The Effects of Colonization in the Wretched of the Earth
The term colonization means establishing and maintaining a colony in a region, which can occur irrespective of whether the indigenous people exist on the territory or not. One of the most common characteristics associated with colonization is the oppression of people and the exploitation of resources that could otherwise be used for the benefit of local persons. The oppression by the colonizers can spur numerous negative effects since it entails the application of force and authority in a cruel way. Some of these effects affect the psyche of an individual. These adverse effects have motivated many scholars to research on the issue of the psychological effects of colonization on people. One of the psychologists who researched on this topic was Frantz Fanon. He was a great philosopher who spent a great deal of his life helping people whom he described as having mental issues related to oppressions. The paper lays a detailed account of the psychological impacts of colonization described in Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth.
Psychological Impact of Colonization in Wretched of the Earth
Fanon argues that colonization has had countless psychological impacts on the nations and individuals, in particular. According to Fanon, the world will continue to bandage many wounds inflicted during the colonial period. He lays much emphasis on the Manichean psychology as an attempt to explain how the colonization affected the Native American Indians, who experienced the significant oppression in the 16th century.
The Native Americans experienced the same influence like the people of Algeria who were oppressed by the French. Particularly, these people suffered from massacres, dehumanization, and denial of rights. In other cases, they also endured sterilization. Despite the fact that the intention of colonization of the Indians was different from the colonization of Africans, the psychological effects that they suffered are the same. On the other hand, the genocide actions carried out against the Native Americans were another source of serious psychological harm. The fact that the Native Americans were not even considered as human beings is one more issue that contributed significantly to the psychological impacts on the side of Native Americans.
Fanon also relates the high prevalence of mental disorders among his Algerian patients to the encounters that they faced during the time of colonialism. He justifies his argument by comparing the colonialist soldiers and the locals who fought with them. He argues that after the war, the German and the French soldiers were not psychologically affected like the Algerians. Fanon also argues that the colonization and the struggle for liberation were the main breeding ground for psychological disorders. He asserts that seven years that the Algerians fought resulted in serious mental problems, which often led to the progress of psychiatric disorders due to the increasing demand for the services.
The psychiatrist described the patients whom he nursed as having reactive psychoses. Such a condition is likely to be triggered by some stressful event in the people’s life and their background. In the above case related to the Algerian patients, it is eminent that the bloody and inhuman conditions experienced by them were the key contributing factors. These people continue to have a long-lasting impression of a veritable Apocalypse. Case No. 1 under Series A and Case No. 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the Series B contain vivid examples of various reactionary diseases.
Case No. 1 describes a man who suffered from impotence. The man used to serve as a taxi driver and was in the frontline in Algerian War of Independence. After a failed attack, he abandoned his taxi and managed to escape. He had never heard anything about his wife for months, but later he received news that his wife had been raped. As a result, the man developed psychological problems to an extent that he did not want to hear anything about liberation and became impotent.
In Case No. 2, a young man used to experience nightmares whenever he recalled how his mother was disemboweled. Nightmares have tormented him for a long time. He could see women who demanded their blood back and he could see the floor soaked with blood. Although the nightmares faded away after treatment, his personality was seriously affected. Each time he recalled his mother he suffered much. In such a case, the young man had a long-term personality disorder, which can only be healed by time.
Another case that Fanon details in his discussion is Case No. 4, which concerned a European police officer who had met an Algerian whom he had tortured. In this case, the officer reported how he had been experiencing screams at night and how he tried to cope. After seeing an individual whom he had tortured, he got a panic attack and later revealed that he was among the people who had tortured the Algerian. On the other hand, the Algerian patient had recognized the officer and thought that the officer wanted to torture him further; hence, he was attempting to commit suicide.
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In series B, Fanon collected cases that he believed were caused by the war atmosphere that dominated Algeria. Case No. 1 involved a medical and legal examination of a situation where two Algerian children had killed a European who was their playmate. The two teenagers admitted that the European was not their enemy. However, they had heard that Europeans wanted to kill all the Arabs and thus decided to kill one of them. The act confirms that the war environment triggered the event.
In Case No. 2, Fanon also explains how a young Algerian man exhibited suicidal tendencies by acting as a terrorist. The young Algerian man could not tolerate the sufferings that the Algerians were undergoing trough during the war. All he wanted was to die and he confessed how happy he was when he had been tortured. Therefore, the case also confirms that the war had serious psychological impacts on various individuals.
In Case No. 4, Fanon also focuses on the adjustment disorders and behavioral changes demonstrated by young Algerians. The children had a fear of noise and experienced various symptoms such as insomnia.
Consequently, all of the above cases confirm how the war led to psychological problems among the Algerians and Europeans.
Fanon’s Beliefs That Only Violence Can Decolonize the Colonized Mind
Fanon believes that the only way to end the psychological sufferings is by violence. He makes this conclusion on the basis that the Europeans relied on psychological torture to maintain their colonies. The colonized people were tortured and made to believe that they were in an inferior status. The degradation of the status presents a good reason violence should be the best way to end the problems. There is no way the Europeans will leave their colonies in a peaceful way. On the contrary, they will always resist and use force to maintain their colonies. Violence is the best way to deal with force; thus, Fanon’s arguments that only violent war can end the problems is justified. Furthermore, the colonizers did not enter the country peacefully but used violence, force, soldiers, and police officers to invade African countries. This fact confirms that only force can be used against force. Therefore, violence is inevitable if Africans want to gain their independence and drive colonizers away. Finally, the process of liberation requires violent actions and thoughts; thus, violence is inevitable if liberation is the aim that should be achieved.
Plausibility of Fanon’s Views
I believe that the arguments presented by Fanon are plausible. Firstly, I find the arguments of Fanon regarding the use of violence as the only way to liberation as valid. It is eminent that the colonizers used violence to acquire and maintain colonies. As a result, it was hard for the Africans to gain their independence in a peaceful way. The colonizers could not have accepted to give up their investments in the colonies and move away if there was no war. Thus, violence was the only way that could drive them away. This argument can be supported by the liberation wars that occurred in almost all colonies in Africa.
Secondly, I concur with Fanon’s arguments concerning violence because the colonizers continued to use force on the native population. The best way that the Africans could gain liberation was by the thinking and acting in a violent way. The Europeans could not have allowed room for dialog and negotiations since they saw the Africans as inferior people. Consequently, there is no way the Africans could have restored their status without using violence.
Finally, the only way that the colonizers could change the perception of the Africans was by violence. Thus, only with the help of violence the African people could restore their status. Hence, the arguments that Fanon presented regarding violence are valid.
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Colonization has had countless adverse psychological impacts on the nations subject to it. In the case of Algeria, the locals suffered from various psychiatric disorders. These people experienced much trauma because of the painful experiences through which they passed. Fanon classified the mental disorders as reactive psychosis and detailed several cases demonstrating particular examples. He also concluded that violence is the only way that the locals can use to end the oppression. The colonizers cannot move out in a peaceful way and thus a violent action is required.