Fighting Mental Slavery


Overcome the bad thoughts

Everyone is fighting a battle with their own self. Modern mental slavery includes the exploitation of human beings using variable methods, but the psychological effect on the victim abides similarities. Research into the mental health impact of victims is in its infancy. However, in a systematic review, it was found that early psychological research has indicated that there are high levels of traumatic events experienced by victims of modern mental slavery in many contexts. The conditions in which the survivor was held, the experiences that they went through during their enslavement, and other psychological factors including perception of personal freedom within captivity and support after release influence mental health. High rates of mental health problems have been found in adults, and in children. In children, the psychological literature tells us that early experiences of trauma are more catastrophic than when experienced by an adult. Decades of research into psychological development teaches us that early trauma often has catastrophic implications for mental health. When children become the victims of slave owners, their present and future mental health, their ability to function and fulfill meaningful lives is at significant risk. .

You need you

 Inevitably our need to self-actualization must be held in tension with wider social needs; we cannot all do what we want all of the time. However, I think that we should design systems which allow the greatest number of people to get as close to self-actualization as possible. Social justice is rather more slippery. Social justice can be define as a term contributing to social harmony, equality, equity, pluralism and difference stating that it means different things to different people. Imagine a young man who has tattooed a spider’s web onto his face and is now experiencing discrimination from employers. Is the just thing to do to advise him to conform to social norms to preserve social harmony and to urge him to remove the tattoo? To argue that his equality of treatment must be respected by 5 employers regardless of the way he looks? To argue that because of the way in which his aesthetic choices have disadvantaged him he must be supported to achieve an equitable outcome by being positively advantaged in the recruitment process? Or should we argue that he should be actively campaigning for a greater social acceptance of differences in appearance, perhaps by publically shaming employers for their prejudice? Some of these definitions of justice for the individual may be perceived as unjust by others or even require us to challenge the way in which power operates in our society. 

It is very well quoted by Bob Marley,

” Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds”

Marley’s slave ships provide us with a more acute test for different conceptions of social justice. Preserving social harmony in such a case seems to act in direct contravention of what many of us would conceive as justice. Furthermore as black people in the United States have discovered, neither emancipation nor the provision of formal equality under law have resulted in equity of outcomes. Such examples demonstrate the way in which careers (people’s learning, work and wider lives) emerge from their context and in relation to prevailing societal ideas about what constitutes social justice. 

Share the values

We all are survivors in our own terms so what do survivors of modern slavery need for effective rehabilitation? Firstly, we need to avoid generalizations and assumptions. Every survivor is unique and has different needs. The psychological needs of victims need to be properly assessed by mental health professionals who are trained and experienced in working with those in abusive relationships and trauma, and who are able to take individual, systemic and cultural factors into consideration. Secondly, survivors of modern slavery, in whatever form, are entitled to evidence based care like anyone else, rather than programs which are delivered without reference to current research into the impact of such experiences or effective rehabilitation techniques. Positivity and caring are ingrained in the field; just take a look at the five core nursing values:

  • Human dignity
  • Integrity
  • Autonomy
  • Altruism
  • Social justice

These five values lay the foundation for a caring, positive mindset that is the hallmark of good nursing practice. One can implement practical tips to help get more positivity:

  • Start the day with positive affirmations.
  • Start focusing on the good things, however small they are.
  • Find humor in bad situations.
  • Turn failures into lessons and learn from them!
  • Transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
  • Focus on the present instead of getting mired in the past or losing your way in the future.
  • Find positive friends, mentors, and co-workers to support and encourage you.
  • Remember that it’s your response that determines the outcome of a situation.
  • Use positive affirmations or phrases to ward off negative thoughts.
  • Decide to be happy by being grateful and assuming the people around you has the best of intentions.
  • Don’t let yourself get dragged down into other people’s complaints.
  • Breathe: consciously, purposefully, and mindfully.
  • Notice the righteous and good in times of tragedy and violence.
  • Have solutions ready when you point out problems.
  • Make someone else smile.
  • Build up your brain’s ability to work with positive information that involve positive words.
  • Strengthen your brain’s ability to pay attention to the positive by routinely redirecting your focus away from the negative to the positive.

Therapy in isolation will never be as effective as holistic packages of care which address the multiple factors which contribute to further enslavement, be that for psychological, economical, or political legal reasons. Former child soldiers, those forced to work as prostitutes or in domestic servitude, are heavily stigmatized within their communities, which can significantly increase their chances of being re-enslaved. In addition to psychological rehabilitation, community, societal and political interventions are required in order to reduce the risk of further exploitation, and finally to bring an end to modern slavery. 

I would like to conclude with the famous quoted lines by Robert Green,

“Mental slavery is mental death, and every man who has given up intellectual freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul.”

Stand tall for yourself. Start your fight against mental slavery today. You know only you can do this.

3 thoughts on “Fighting Mental Slavery

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