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The Physical and Psychological Effects of Slavery on the Sla
Transcript of The Physical and Psychological Effects of Slavery on the Sla
Physical Effects- Whipping
The results of whipping were severe scars, often on the back, shoulder, legs, etc. The scars that whipping would raise were often thin and short, giving the skin a criss-crossed, inticate, and grievous pattern. At the area of the scars, much of the skin was raised with thick scar tissue, leaving ridges of flesh at the site. Often times, the scars were (or were suggestive of) keloid, a type of scar that is a result of an overgrowth of granulation tissues.
Physical Effects- Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse wasn't uncommon in slavery for both men and women. There are reports of cases where white slave owners would force their male slaves to rape other black women, whether freed or enslaved. Slave women, however, were mostly subject to first-hand sexual abuse from their masters, often used as breeding machines and forced to bear the master's children to increase the amount of slave's on the plantation and, thus, the master's wealth and reputation.
Psychological Effects- "Mental Illnesses"
Drapetomania- The believed "disease" that made slaves run away from plantations.
This supposed "disease" was another result of scientific racism, a way to give the white's explanation to their superiority over the black population without using religion. However, slavery did hugely affect the human mind, leading to severe anxiety and even violence as will be shown on the next slide.
Psychological Effects- PTSD
Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome was a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental illness in which the "fight or flight" fear reaction is damaged, causing a person to feel as if they're in danger often or always even though they aren't in danger. PTSS was often caused by severe physical and/or emiotional trauma, such as whipping, being raped, or witnessing any of the latter two. Many times PTSS was evident many generations down even if the one's with the disorder weren't in slavery. This is an example of transgenerational trauma, a condition in which anxiety is passed from one generation to another. This is possible through the idea that anxiety trickles down like water from parent to child, whether through story telling or general perceptiveness. Often times slaves and former slaves passed PTSS down to their children, who would then pass it down to their children and so forth.
Psychological Effects- Suicide
Slave suicide was not uncommon on plantations on on ships, though it isn't very heard of today. One of such occured with a group of men and women from the Ebo tribe of Africa who committ suicide on a Georgian plantation. The leader of the group drowned himself in a creek upon setting foot on American land and the others followed suit.Lots of slaves what was brung over from Africa could fly. There was a crowd of them working in the field. They don't like it here and they think they go back to Africa. One by one they fly up in the air and all fly off and gone back to Africa.
—Jack Tattnall, Georgia Writers' Project interview, in Georgia Writers' Project, Drums and Shadows: Survival Stories among the Georgia Coastal Negroes (1940; Athens, Ga., 1986), 108.
A painting depicting the Ebo suicide.
Dee Williams, Coastal Center for the Arts
Slavery led to the debilitation of many slaves, whether in the form of scars or mental illness. A life of anxiety and pain cause by scars wasn't an ideal life in the least, but the determination to escape slavery pushed African American society forward. This fact was able to give hope to many. After all, the tradeoff, in their eyes, was worth it. Because of this struggle, slave children would be able to be free. And that was hope enough for anyone.