Mental health conditions from psychological trauma

Frustrations, sadism, religion, our collective mental health Welcome to this week’s “Mental Health Chat Room”, this is a chat room where we discuss the basics of our mental health in order to understand and have a full grasp of the rudiments of mental health and mental well-being.

This is an essential component of our mental health advocacy activities aimed at promoting our wholesome wellness, prevent mental illness, improve our awareness of mental illness, understand that effective, qualitative and modern (technology based) mental health care services are available in Nigeria and globally to enhance quality living, harmonious interpersonal relationships and peaceful coexistence within our communities.

A recap of our last conversation: We discussed the historical negative stereotypes, myths and misconceptions that have been associated with mental illness and we described such stereotypes as often unfair and untrue (almost always) beliefs about a group of people with a particular characteristic; a belief about a particular category of people, which could result in generalizing it to every person of that particular group.

Such negative stereotypes often result in stigma, discrimination, and isolation of people with mental illness, as well as their families, relations and even care givers such as the health workers who take care of the mentally ill persons. Studies have shown that stigmatization of mental illness is a major barrier to uptake of mental health care services in Nigeria.

In furtherance to our mental health chat, we are today discussing the continuum of “frustrations, sadism, religion and our collective Mental Health”. We are aware of the saying that “one thing leads to the other”, in the past one week we have witnessed the death of a young lady in Sokoto that has lead to worldwide uproar and condemnations and the replica death of a young man in Lagos following argument with Okada riders; both victims were killed and set ablaze!

The circumstances may appear different, but they both derive from common roots. We are discussing how these happenings are related to our collective mental health and optimum mental well-being.

Frustration connotes the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something, this usually has to do with our everyday livelihood. The social situation in our country today that arise from youth unemployment, endemic poverty, poor purchasing power of citizens coupled with pervasive banditry and terrorism has heightened the magnitude of frustrations among the Nigerian population. Frustration originates from feelings of uncertainty and insecurity, which stems from a sense of inability to fulfill needs. If the needs of an individual are blocked, uneasiness and frustration are more likely to occur.

Frustrations can manifest with the feelings of irritability or anger because of the inability to meet up with routine demands of life such as food, shelter, health clothing etc. Being in a constant state of frustration can lead to many problems in people’s lives; this includes risky behaviors and lack of tolerance to simple criticism or arguments.

Matters that ordinarily could be resolved amicably through dialogue will ignite fistic scuffles or use of dangerous objects and weapons. This most often leads to devaluation of lives, where human lives appears worthless as we see everywhere in Nigeria today!

Frustration can lead to a condition that is known as sadism, it has very expansive definition that range from aberrant behaviour determined by day-to-day interactions with immediate animate environment to conditions that people were exposed to in early childhood that has lead to distorted perception of the world around them; to some inhumane personality disorders and/or frank psychotic disorders.

Sadism also refers to experiencing pleasure in seeing others suffer or inflicting suffering on others. Sadistic individuals enjoy cruelty and seek opportunities to induce suffering upon others; we can then imagine what happens to our society today where frustrations have lead to sadism!

Permit me to quote from a recent write up in an article; “we are killers” by Haruspice published in; “I have seen people waylay travellers and slaughter them in numbers, in this same world I live in.

I have seen people murdered in hotel rooms and their body parts dismembered, in this world I live, I have seen people abducted and killed by fellow humans. Just recently two Nigerians, trained soldiers in the color of nationalism were caught, the wife raped before her husband, her private part torn open and the eyes of the man gouged out and then set on fire to burn to ashes! Yes, in this same clime where going to church and mosque define our creed!” This brings my conversation to the arena of religion and religiosity.

Religion is usually defined as a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that generally relates to beliefs and practices. Entrenched in religion are the service and worship of God or the supernatural and commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance. I have dealt with relationship between religion, spirituality and mental health in the “Vanguard Mental Health Chat Room” conversation in March this year.

For the purpose of today’s conversation, I would like us to visualize religion in the context of our socio-cultural system.

Karl Marx described religion as “the opium of the people” (opium of the Masses)! This description has continued to reverberate in our societies till date. Religion impacts the totality of our health, and most especially mental health. We find religion to contribute to conflicts that we may develop which could lead to mental health problems; we equally find religion very useful intervention in the resolution of mental health challenges. In my some of my earlier conversations (Vanguard Mental Health Chat Room),

I discussed definition of mental well-being and the determinants of mental illness. And if we take an incisive scrutiny of the determinants of mental disorders, we will find that all the factors that could lead to frustrations and sadism are contained in there; and very importantly our religious inclinations are also embedded within it.

Our mental health refers to our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It includes our degree of happiness or sadness, irritability/anger or calmness, anxiety or collectedness, controlled or coordinated/erratic behaviours, agitation/restfulness etc.

It affects how we think, feel, and act and it also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. On the other hand, our mental well-being is a state in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community (WHO).

The ability to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life, work productively, interact positively with others and realize our own potential. Simply put; a state of well-being where we can realize our potential, cope with normal stressors (without frustrations), live and work fruitfully and contribute to society (without sadism), it is not just mere absence of illness. It is important to note that good mental wellbeing is not the absence of negative thoughts and feelings, we all face difficult and challenging situations that cause us to feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and everything in-between; it is not the opposite of mental disorder!

Considering all that we have discussed today, and the present situation of our country; do we need statistics to convince us that majority of Nigerians are not enjoying optimum mental wellbeing?

Between the continuum of mental ill health and mental well being, we do have the “in-betweens”, such “in-betweens” are referred to as mental distress and most times are manifested by the signs and symptoms of frustrations, sadism and over religiosity (extremism)!

Today, most Nigerians are oscillating within this confinement!! It is quite imperative that we examine our society and the social determinants of mental ill health with the aim of addressing the social vices that will result in the monumental mental distress in which we found ourselves.

Essentially, the rampant killing of each other in Nigeria today is far beyond what we can blame on religion, the situation is challenging the sum total of our collective mental well-being as a society! Collectively, we may not be wholesomely sick, but we are yet to attain collective optimum mental well-being. As contained in the “Lord of the flies”, we may end up with; one by one we kill ourselves!!

I look forward to your comments especially regarding the recent death of the young lady in Sokoto and the death the young man in Lagos following arguments with “Okada riders”!

Note:  If you have comments, questions and  contributions, please reach out to us on: +2348037004611 or email us at [email protected]


My friends, family support?

Dear Prof,

I was told that facing our mental health struggles is easier when those closest to us, and our best friends, are in our corner supporting and understanding us. But my biggest fear has always been that  having mental health issues can result into pushing friends and loved ones away. How true is this?  

Tina, Abuja

Is this consequence of social stigma?

Dear Prof,

I often feel a sense of shame, hopelessness and isolation whenever I meet up with my contemporaries, but I am reluctant to ask for help or get treatment. Is this a consequence of social stigma on my mental health? 

Yomi AA, Lagos

How is mental illness detected?

Dear Prof, Is there a medical test that can provide a diagnosis of mental illness? How can a doctor detect or rule out mental illness in a patient. what can a health care professional do in an evaluation such as a  physical examination of  long term monitoring to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing symptoms?

Uduak, Benin City


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.