In the late 1970's, I spent some time working in the VA Hospital system. At that time, the primary Psychiatric population we treated were those whose psychiatric problems fell under the category of "service-connected disability." Patients with SC disabilities received a significantly higher monthly disability payment, as long as their psychiatric problem persisted. A subset of patients, mostly young, Vietnam era vets, was created who were hospitalized for short stays every 6 months. According to VA rules, if you were hospitalized every 6 months, that was considered a priori evidence that you were still disabled. The mix of conscious motivation (malingering) and unconscious motivation (what Freud referred to as secondary gain, an unconscious process) differed for each patient but there were quite clearly patients who were not psychotic yet would suffer, on a biannual basis, bouts of acute psychotic decompensation, complete with command auditory hallucinations (patients reporting that voices are telling them to kill themselves are almost always admitted when they show up at the Psychiatric ER); some oft these patients were miraculously cured once they entered the elevator up to the in-patient ward. After a while, we would catch on to who was essentially scamming the system and they would end up moving out of town and months later we would hear they had been hospitalized in another state's VA Hospital.
One difficult question raised by this experience was what should you expect of a patient who might not be disabled by a psychiatric illness, yet by dint of his lack of skills and abilities, or his perception of himself as lacking such skills and abilities, could never hope to honestly earn an equivalent wage to his SC Disability?
Early on, we recognized that the true malingerers were beyond any treatment approaches we could devise, and that the truly disabled would need, and deserved, assistance for the rest of their lives. The most difficult group were those who perceived themselves as lacking skill and ability, but might possible, with the proper work and support, grow to become productive members of society. As you might expect, their self-perception was rarely something they would volunteer; it was not a source of pride, yet the belief could be and often was, firmly fixed as part of their sense of themselves, and it left them psychologically crippled. Adding to their burden was the fear that if they gave up their benefits and then failed, they would be bereft and deserted.
These thoughts were sparked by a post by LaShawn Barbera from a couple of days ago, Jim Crow Redux, in which she described some of the background and justification for the ongoing racial discrimination which persists in this country:
America began to make government-sanctioned skin color distinctions in public hiring and admissions, even going so far as to force parents to send their children to schools miles and miles away to achieve a “racial balance.” When shocked white, guilt-ridden socialists discovered that blacks were failing employment tests in disproportionate numbers, they determined that the tests must be racist. Tests were eliminated in some cases, and standards were dropped in most cases. The same happened with college admissions.
The way to help the victimized Negro, whites surmised, was to make life easier for him, the poor thing.
The government permitted discrimination against other races to accommodate the put-upon black race. Giving much and expecting little, the entitlement system was allowed to grow to monstrous proportions. It became normal. Consequently, a new generation of blacks, to which the blog hostess belongs, was born to expect such humiliating, condescending treatment from the government.
I would suggest that there is an even more insidious and invidious result of such reverse discrimination, which is crippling too many of our black citizens. This morning I posted a long article describing some of the most recent research findings in neurobiology. I suggested that the evidence is accumulating that the psychoanalytic theory of the development of the self is based on measurable neuroanatomical and neurophysiological substrates. Further, there is evidence that the self develops in intimate relation to the primary caretaker in the earliest years (via mirror cells), a process referred to as identification, which is an unconscious function of the ego.
Here is a hypothetical family constellation: A black person who has grown up in the entitlement system will have been subject to the message, over and over again, that he or she is unable to compete on a level playing field with whites. They are empowered by the liberal entitlement workers (social workers talk about "empowerment" which is defined as a better ability to extract what they are entitled to from the system) to maintain their status as a dependent on the state. Even without noxious government employees, this is a set up to feel humiliated and condescended to. A dependent adult struggles with feelings of inadequacy (after all, the message is that they are inadequate!) and internalizes such feelings. Unfortunately, even those black Americans who are successful are tainted by such stigmata. They will wonder if they are truly capable and qualified or have attained their position by virtue of assistance from the more powerful, more capable white man. Matters become even more complicated when a generation grows up raised by parents who feel devalued and imagine themselves to be devalued, lesser people. When you add in that the father has been completely devalued and marginalized by the radical feminist "scholars" who hold sway in our liberal arts universities and the PC-thought that is an outgrowth of radical feminism, the young black male as an endangered species is inevitable.
My children went through an integrated school system. One of the most frequent complaints from black parents was that by the time their children got to middle school, especially their sons, the peer pressure against "acting white," ie working hard in school and valuing themselves and their education, became overwhelming. Most black families with any means pulled their boys out of the school system and sent them to private schools well before the ninth grade. The bulk of the population, unfortunately, had already bought into the characterization of black boys as unable to compete in academics. This inculcation starts in the earliest years with unconscious identifications with devalued parents. The false self esteem enhancement that the schools offer, in an attempt to mitigate white liberal guilt and avoid the rage that their charges will inevitably display when they realize they have been educationally abandoned, is one more double cross that these youngsters are set up for. Please note, none of this is done on a conscious basis; it is all the outcome of the best of intentions.
When you hear rap groups "singing" about pimps and ho's, and hear young black men refer to themselves with the "N" word (sorry, I am too old to feel comfortable with that word), you are hearing the glorification of their devalued status, a reaction formation. The adolescent whose parents expect him to be a failure will, most of the time, glorify his failures; this is based on the unconscious identification with the devalued aspects of the parent which have formed part of the core of the person's self concept. These people should be shamed, not glorified.
A growing black middle class suggests there is nothing inherent in our black American countrymen that precludes their investment in the American experience.
Ultimately, however, the black population of our country will never be able to succeed until they realize that they are unconsciously buying into an unstated meme saying that they are unable to compete; as long as they believe they cannot compete, they will never be able to compete.
This p0st is linked to Outside the Beltway.