Dr. Joy DeGruy’s book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrom: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing focuses on how the traumatic experiences of slavery have affected African Americans’ lives, which entails trauma that is a direct result of slaves being hunted, tortured, and forced into labor.
According to the book, the syndrome exists when a population has experienced multigenerational trauma resulting from centuries of oppression and institutionalized racism.
The book mentions various types of traumatic syndromes, such as suspicion, anger, and low self-esteem. They are intricately woven into psychological perceptions, how African Americans perceive themselves and others.
Dr. DeGruy gives personal accounts of the effects of PTSS. For example, her son was playing in the front yard, when she noticed a boy looking at him strangely. She immediately went outside to see what the problem was. She asked the boy why he was looking at her son that way; the boy replied, “Why is he looking at me?” She then said, “He might want to play video games with you, but just does not know how to ask.” There seemed to be a preconceived assumption, with the belief that her son imposed a threat, when he did not.
The author and some friends went to a walk-in theater, and some unruly people were throwing popcorn over their heads, at people in the row below them. The popcorn hit her in the face, and her 6-foot-2, 250-pound male friend got upset. She saw a distinct change of rage in his face; he got up and began to address the situation. She gently touched his arm, and said it was only popcorn, defusing the situation. Why was he so angry? What problem was he attempting to solve, by creating one?
The book also addresses low self-esteem, the evaluation of self-worth. It says this evaluation, sometimes considered as low or high perception of self, is an indication of how people do not perceive themselves in a good way. One particular perception is how adults perceive their children. “We know that our children receive most of their attitudes, life skills and approaches to life from their parents,” Dr. DeGruy wrote.
The author’s personal experience with PTSS is what makes this book very interesting. Dr. DeGruy does not just tell the reader about her views, she explains her personal experience. What can be more inspirational than experience with the subject matter? Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a book of healing, understanding the particulars of traumatic experiences.