PERSISTENT PSYCHOLOGICAL PARALYSIS

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yesterday, I talked about The Nigerian Psyche and asserted that psychologically, Nigerians as a group, do not truly believe that they "are capable of grand success either as individuals or as a nation." From reading the responses to that post, it is clear that we understand the importance of a national psyche. Furthermore, we also understand why a positive and enabling national mindset is crucial for the success of any nation. Some commenters confessed what many Nigerians feel - a hesitance to be unconditionally proud of our fatherland. Some noted that there is little concept of a collective national goal but more a collection of individual objectives. These and many more perspectives on the issue, have helped to further the discussiona nd will hopefully allow us to create a workable solution to the problem I present below.

Today, I would like to posit that the problem with Nigeria and Nigerians is one I like to call Persistent Psychological Paralysis. It is not an official condition, so looking it up will not be helpful. It is simply a term I chose to apply to a mental attitude that I feel most Nigerians, myself included, tend to have when it comes to Nigeria.

Persistent Psychological Paralysis (PPP) is a condition that Nigerians know fully well. In my opinion, PPP represents the current national psyche and its sufferers are so beaten down that they are unable to realize that

  1. Their situation must change, and/or
  2. They can change their situation.
I believe that in Nigeria, PPP is expressed via a sense of constant and pervasive powerlessness, general feelings of hopelessness, despair and fatigue over the country's state of affairs. Although corruption is the common denominator to all Nigeria's problems, in reality, PPP is the silent and unnoticed condition that is inextricably linked to every problem Nigeria currently faces. Therefore, PPP must be acknowledged, addressed, attacked and annihilated in order for Nigeria to attain any reasonable and sustainable amount of development that would ensure a better country for the nation's future inhabitants.

PPP FURTHER EXPLAINED
Every Nigerian is aware of PPP and instinctively understands what it is even if they are unable to properly define it. It is encased in the very nature of Nigerian behavior - the 'siddon look' attitude many Nigerians (this writer included) overwhelmingly have at various times. This attitude is in many ways a coping mechanism that Nigerians have been forced to adopt in order to deal with the pains of Nigerian citizenship.

Consequently, PPP stems from Nigeria's history as a nation and specifically, the modern history post independence in 1960. Time and time again, the hopes and dreams of Nigerians were dashed by a confluence of intersecting factors including inept leaders, corrupt officials, and apathetic citizens. As a result, Nigerians and the nation have failed to rise to the original expectation of greatnesss anticipated by its citizens and the world. All are well aware of Nigeria's failures - the lack of adequate health care is obvious for the world to see when the political elite fly abroad for health services. Dangerously substandard roads and other infrastructure result in the constant loss of lives and productivity on a wide scale. And, the nation now has an unfair reputation as a country of slick scam artists that we have failed to squash.

I can't help but think of Battered Person's Syndrome as a similar condition. Consider this reference to Battered Person's Syndrome,
"...any person who, because of constant and severe ...  violence ..., becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press criminal charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance. Often sufferers will even seek out their very abuser for comfort shortly after an incident of abuse."
Sound familiar?

I personally believe that if not dealt with, PPP will prevent Nigeria from ever becoming a success story. It will dissolve any possibly measurable gains and choke our future before it even gets a chance.


What are your thoughts on PPP? Do you think it is indeed an issue to be concerned with or not? Would you have an alternative explanation for the attitude I termed PPP and, if so, what would it be? On Thursday, I will address in some detail why I think it is important for every Nigerian to be concerned about this 'condition'. I hope you will return to read and share your insight as it is a crucial aspect of solving what I fear is Nigeria's downward psychological spiral.


Further Reading:
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Values
- Being Duped By A Family Member
- Are The Poor To Blame For Their Poverty

10 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Beauty said...

PPP? I don't fink so, luv! I do not think our motherland suffers this syndrome. A combination of phenomena seen in association does not necessary make it so. There are simpler reasons stopping nations becoming success stories. In effect, you would have to associate the whole of Africa with your definition.

Just because Cuba's Fidel and others used a revolution to throw out their utterly corrupt rulers does not mean a revolution would work in Nigeria. The mecca of mess that is the USA is one of the problems that is macro-affecting Nigeria. The UK may be orderly but look beyond their skin to see a slow fermentation of mess rapidly taking over the British Isles. The whole world is rapidly going to hell and the countries that are already there, well, look at Nigeria, regression has set in.

Femi B said...

How long is the ailment going to last..How about people like me that are proud of Nigeria despite all situations...am I immune to PPP

Chukbyke.Okey,C. said...

Your 'PPP' is real and a serious issue.Though it is dificult for any 'sick' person to accept being sick if he is told of his situation by another person,therfore we should expect a denial of PPP from Nigerians.

Waffarian said...

I agree that there is a "siddon look" phenomenon that is particular to Nigeria and many other African Countries. However, since my experience is limited to Nigeria, that’s what I'll talk about. I have a good example of a very psychological attribute I carried for years and perhaps still have.

It was very daunting to me in a foreign country to "plan" or "set up goals". My Nigerian mind used to think "plan what?" Nothing ever happens the way I want anyway, so why should I plan? Why plan your life around when you will graduate when that might end up not being the year? Why buy meat for tmrw when if they take light, it will all go bad and then what? Basically, I was used to "day to day" planning as we did in my home and especially in my teenage years when Warri was always on curfews and what not. I never knew how much of an effect it had on me until I realized that I could not even tell people what I was doing the next day, because I never thought I had to know.

I still have problems making "plans". In fact, anytime something I "plan" comes true, I still think it’s a miracle. My close friend keeps telling me, "waffy, it will happen, all the conditions are there, why shouldn't it? It’s logical that this or that will eventually happen. If you go to school and work hard, you'll get good grades, if you get good grades, you'll get a good job, if you get a good job, you'll have a stable economy, etc etc "

When you have been brought up thinking there are no "guarantees" for anything you do in life, it is very hard to accept. All my life, I saw hard working and honest men die as paupers. I saw intelligent children wasting away because they did not have connections in Universities. I saw people who had "planned" their whole lives in a country lose their jobs and dignities. Teachers became farmers and secretaries became tailors.

Everything I did was to survive for that day. That’s how it was. You wake up, and you tried to get through the day, not tomorrow, not next tomorrow and certainly not next week.

It has taken me years to finally start planning and achieving goals. Still, at the back of my head, I expect it all to be snatched away at any moment.

I think that's one of the factors that contribute to "PPP". We do not believe that anything we plan, will actually come true, so we have stopped planning and dreaming. When you stop having dreams, then you are in trouble. In Nigeria, children do not dream anymore. When they see one dream after another crash before their very eyes, its hard to keep dreaming.

Thats what corrupt leaders have to to our country. They have robbed us of our dreams.

The Fitness Diva said...

Fascinating article. I hope this improves for Nigerians, as well as for people in my own country.
I think that certain BA's (Black Americans)suffer from a similar syndrome where they don't think they should even try hard to succeed in our society (and I am the complete opposite, ambitious, driven and competitive to a fault). I have always attributed it to a certain laziness, but know that this can't be true for all. There have to be some psychological reasons behind it.

Very interesting comparison, in my opinion.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Beauty: Thanks so much for coming back to read this follow up post.
"A combination of phenomena seen in association does not necessary make it so. There are simpler reasons stopping nations becoming success stories. In effect, you would have to associate the whole of Africa with your definition."

Hmmm. I agree correlation does not equal causation and am definitely open to whatever alternative explanations you have for understanding why the Nigerian psyche is the way it is today. Notice I did not refer to Africa. The African continent is way too large for us to have a generalized discussion about mentality, in my opinion. I just have not studied enough about other countries to have a firm grasp on such issues. But, I will say this. After living in the Ivory Coast, I can tell you that Ivorians would not take half the mess Nigerians deal with. I will also tell you that my Ghanaian friends cannot understand why there is so much chaos in Lagos. And these are people who live in Accra where the majority of the streets do not have street names, yet there is order.

So, Beauty, what are the "simpler reasons" why nations fail to become success stories? Particularly nations like Nigeria which have everything they need to be a global power. I have chosen to focus on psychological issues for Nigeria's problems and truly believe with all my heart that the psyche of a nation is crucial for success. But, I want you to please take the time to explain further. I know you are busy, so whenever you can, I'll be waiting. Thanks so much!

@ Femi B: lol! Maybe you are immune and if you are, I need whatever you are having. =) Thanks so much for coming back to read this follow up post.

But, honestly, I used to be a "Naija rider" for a very long time. The problem was that I started looking too closely into what Nigeria truly is. And, the result? I now see my country a little differently. Not in black or white, but in shades of grey. I love the country and I try to use whatever time I have to think about ways to make it better and hope for a day when I can actually have an opportunity to make the nation better, not just via words, thoughts and prayers, but by positive action.

I like to say "If you look too hard into the darkness, it looks back at you." That's Nigeria for me in a way. There is a lot of rot and if you stare at the rot too much, it can get to you. So, instead, I choose to look at the positive and negative for a more balanced view. Unfortunately, I see more negative and become disappointed by the simple failures. That shakes my faith in Nigeria far often than I chose to admit. But, i soldier on, like many others, because Naija is home.

Gosh, I'm rambling, ain't I? Thanks so much for asking such a simple but poignant question. Please stay positive, refrain from getting 'PPP' and share your secrets with all of us. =)

@ Uncle Chuks: I think PPP is very real. I have been thinking about how to discuss the issue for over a year now and for some reason (I can't remember why), felt brave enough to raise it here.

You are right, when someone suffers from an ailment, it is sometimes hard for them to admit it. But, i suffer from PPP, and i can admit it. Granted it took a year though, lol! My point is simply that the Nigerian psyche is at a low point and we need to focus on psychology as a focal aspect of transforming Nigeria into a better nation.

Thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to come back today and comment.

@ Waffy: I am always amazed at your ability to communicate via words and images. I have read your post and I am not ashamed to say that it brought tears to my eyes. I seem to be getting more and more emotional these days and I blame Kritzmoritz!!! =)

After reading what you wrote, I cannot help but multiply that sentiment by millions!!!! YOU ARE SO CORRECT!!! I have nothing else to add to what you said. I will only highlight certain points so hopefully follow up readers/commenters might read your thoughts.

"When you have been brought up thinking there are no "guarantees" for anything you do in life, it is very hard to accept. All my life, I saw hard working and honest men die as paupers. I saw intelligent children wasting away because they did not have connections in Universities. I saw people who had "planned" their whole lives in a country lose their jobs and dignities. Teachers became farmers and secretaries became tailors."

"I think that's one of the factors that contribute to "PPP". We do not believe that anything we plan, will actually come true, so we have stopped planning and dreaming. When you stop having dreams, then you are in trouble. In Nigeria, children do not dream anymore. When they see one dream after another crash before their very eyes, its hard to keep dreaming.

Thats what corrupt leaders have to to our country. They have robbed us of our dreams.


And yet, the nation soldiers on. Those individual goals continuing to somehow string the country along. How Nigerians do it. I do not know. But I am in awe of my people. I truly am.

And, now, I must finish working on today's post which is extremely late because I have spent the morning reading and responding to incredible, thought provoking comments from so many readers.

Thank to everyone for enriching me with your ideas.

Femi B said...

I see the negatives too..but i think as individuals we are great people...these negatives only want me to do something the more and convince people to do something. ONe thing i tell people is that if they don't go to ward meetings or familiarize themselves with politics and situations in Nigeria..they should never complain about Nigeria. Its like me sitting in a litter filled home complaining about the dirt and me not wanting to pick up the litter around me or me even adding to the dumb around me.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Why do always miss your posts? Maybe its time to set up an alarm to ring every time you update.

On PPP, I think Femi B hit the head on the nail (or vice versa))) but then Waffarian also got it right.

We have stopped dreaming.

We have stopped believing in our greatness as a people.

Why? Because a few of us, who stopped dreaming too have decided to rob others of their ability to dream.

What to do? Believe.

Yes. Rekindle the spark of faith in yourself and the destiny of Nigeria. Help a fellow Nigerian rekindle his/her faith too. Support each other.

There will be naysayers even amongst your own kin but it does not really matter. We can overcome anything. We have overcome plenty already.

You know we can, when we want to.

We only have to want to.

Believe.

Ayobami Ojebode said...

Well, PPP sounds like--but it is worse than--what political scientists like to call cynicism of pathological disaffection. Your position may sound exaggerated but it is true.

culturesoup said...

I love Waffarian's comment so much. Losing the ability to hope and dream is so devastating and i can see how it leads to a national sense of powerlessness. I think it also explains the lack of trust in Nigerian society. When promises are broken repeatedly, people find a way to adjust and get around it but they also learn not to put their confidence in those who've lied to them before.

IMO, the way to start winning back the nation's confidence and creating the sense that achieving goals is possible is for leaders to fulfill their duties. Look at Lagos for example, the governor hasn't done anything extraordinary yet he has people believing in the state again.

Great post SSD!

Post a Comment

Get curious...share your thoughts, long and short. But, do remain civil.