May 31, 2004

Portland State prof offers "Post Traumatic Slave Disorder" as reason for murder

America's courts are filled with shady shrinks paid by sleazy shysters ready to spout off any convenient theory for the bad behavior of pathetic people.

Add a new theory to the list: "Post Traumatic Slave Disorder."

Joy DeGruy-Leary, an assistant professor in the Portland State University Graduate School of Social Work put forward the theory, which is being used in the murder case of Isaac Cortez Bynum.

Bynum is charged with the beating death of his two year-old son Ryshawn last June. Bynum's lawyer, Randall Vogt, claims that suffering by African Americans at the hands of slave owners is to blame for little Ryshawn's death, not Isaac Bynum.

The theory is not accepted by the courts, nor by psychologists as a verifiable disorder. But a little thing like that won't dissuade DeGruy-Leary.

DeGruy-Leary testified this month in Washington County Circuit Court that African Americans today are affected by past centuries of U.S. slavery because the original slaves were never treated for the trauma of losing their homes; seeing relatives whipped, raped and killed; and being subjugated by whites.

Because African Americans as a class never got a chance to heal and today still face racism, oppression and societal inequality, they suffer from multigenerational trauma, says DeGruy-Leary, who is African American. Self-destructive, violent or aggressive behavior often results, she says.

"Post traumatic slave syndrome is rather unique; it's not that everybody has it," DeGruy-Leary testified. "If you are African American and you are living in America, you have been impacted."

Washington County Circuit Judge Nancy W. Campbell recently threw out DeGruy-Leary's pretrial testimony, based on lack of empirical evidence that the condition even exists. However, Judge Campbell says that she may reconsider the defense, if the lawyer can show the slave theory is an accepted mental disorder with a valid scientific basis and specifically applies to this case.

DeGruy-Leary said she thinks post traumatic slave syndrome can be proven scientifically once the politics of race are set aside and the white research establishment takes time to study it.

She has been studying the disorder for two decades, and claims that even though no black person alive today has ever been a slave, that the historic stress is passed down genetically through the generations.

Anything to keep from dealing with personal responsibility. And mind you, she's even getting paid to "research" it!

Posted by mhking at May 31, 2004 04:36 PM

So, someone can use this exact excuse to harm Ms. Degruy-Leary, and it will be just A-OK?

Posted by: BigFire at May 31, 2004 06:18 PM

The stress is passed down from generation to generation? Isn't that Lysenkoism?

Posted by: Pat Curley at May 31, 2004 07:56 PM

Hey, I can slaughter my kids just because there were "Irish need not apply" signs in ol' Boston?! YAY!!!
Oh, wait. I love my kids. Er... nevermind.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at May 31, 2004 08:38 PM

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous things that I've seen this year. We've now done commentary on it on our blog, thanks to your link.

Posted by: molotov at May 31, 2004 08:44 PM

Good God - I'm sure I could put the money she's being paid to much more productive use than this junk science.

Posted by: Lola Lee at May 31, 2004 10:11 PM

I've been suffering from Post Traumatic Taxpayer Disorder for years.

Posted by: McGehee at June 1, 2004 06:31 AM

I ran across this on the Internet, and was sure it must be some sort of post-April Fool's joke. Silly me.

I did a short blog on the subject:

Posted by: Jaz at June 2, 2004 08:59 AM

Put it right next to Ebonics

Posted by: cj at June 21, 2004 10:07 PM

I am part Native American Indian ...... can you imagine the defense I could use if this one was seen as credible?

My people were'nt taken as slaves.....they were just nearly wiped off the face of the earth! Jews join in on the chorus. Hell....many jews who were in concentration camps ......are still alive!

They actually suffered by the hands of others.

If we all go back in time far enough......we all will have an excuse now! Should I scalp my kid now and blame it on the european settlers descendants? Oh wait I'm also part German.....should I scalp myself?

Is there a race of people on earth who were'nt at one time victims of another as well as the perpetrator?

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits"!

Posted by: bartikus at June 22, 2004 03:12 AM

This disorder is actually being studied seriously and should be given serious thought, as opposed to just dismissing it because of the condescending tone of the writer of this article. The ideas of Freud and many other psychologists were also thought of as loopy and non-valid during their time, yet much of these ideas are tenets of current psychological thougth. But hey, to actually take seriously what a black psychologist is proposing would mean actually mean first getting past your own racist notions.

Posted by: Mon at August 26, 2004 04:40 PM

yeah! I actually heard about this, though in more detail and in a more unbiased way than in this article. What the doctor and other doctors are saying is that black people adapted their intereactions because of slavery and Jim Crow era following. So their religion, rites of passage, etc. weren't allowed to follow them here because their white masters would not allow it. So when black women were raped by white men who sometimes were their own fathers, they had to find ways to cope. These coping mechanisms that might have worked then, are not working now for black people. That is what the doctor is saying. This should be given serious consideration.

Posted by: Lisa at August 26, 2004 04:48 PM

What is cj talking about? Do you even know what ebonics is? Racist prick!

Posted by: Joe at August 26, 2004 04:51 PM

doesn't matter what you white people say your experiences are not compairable. as usual your cultural arrogance dismisses whatever you cannot comprehend. the world has more than one perspective. everyone isn't like you..trying to find an excuse to justify your devilish natures. at least there is an attempt to explain the psychotic behaviour of your ancestors that can possibly result in treating the disorder presented in this thesis. let the ignorant continue to ignore the problem. let the healthy help those that are sick to heal.

Posted by: storm cloud at November 8, 2004 01:50 AM

As a Mulatto, or person of mixed ethnicity, as a person of mixed heritage, I suffer from European,(the Hungarians got fucked over in '56) African (some of my ancestors were indentured (enslaved),and sent to the colonies, the West Indies) and Asian, (again some of my ancestors -Chinese were indentured(enslaved) and sent to the West Indies to work in the oil fields)post trumatic slave /indentured labourer syndrome. Upon whom do I vent my seething rage?

Posted by: slavedriver at March 6, 2005 11:20 AM

I think the person who wrote this article took everything for which Dr. DeGruy-Leary stands, out of context. If people were to read her works and attend her workshops they would form a more intelligent opinion that isn't based upon someone elses mis-interpretation of this case. This article is misleading. If you read the quote, the quote is taken from her hypothesis based upon her research and not directly related to Mr. Bynum's case...READ PEOPLE!!!! stop allowing yourselves to be spoon-fed garbage and accepting it at face value.

DK Moore, MSW Howard University School of Social Work

Posted by: DeShantra Moore at April 15, 2005 12:56 AM

The fact that people misuse the diagnosis (even if it isn't an official one yet) to excuse their actions doesn't make the point less valid that African-Americans may still be suffering from the effects of their heritage, which seems likely given what we already know about how trauma is passed on through generations. Instead of putting energy into finding out whether this condition exists and what we can do about it, the debate is turning into yet another race war, with the likes of Turning Spork questioning the validity of the claims and storm cloud generalising about white people. I think that's very sad.

Posted by: Kristen at June 30, 2005 08:32 AM

Most so-called "Whites" are ALWAYS wrong on issues of race in the Americas. Most are ignorant on this subject and, worst, Arrogant in their Ignorance. However, they will awake when "Bottom Rail Is On Top". If you know what I mean.

Posted by: shawn at September 24, 2005 06:19 PM
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