Ultra Long Term Health Effects of Slavery

This is a post I wrote on the Economics, Psychology, Policy blog, which I got involved with via rather tangential links with  the UCD Geary Institute – Liam Delaney, who I got to know then, was then  Prof of Behavioural Economics in Stirling University and the blog seems now to be part of the Stirling course – but now it seems Liam is back in UCD!

I have a weakness for sword’n’sandal type historical fiction set in Ancient Rome. One author I particularly enjoy is Steven Saylor who writes detective novels set in Ancient Rome, which manage to combine a modern sensibility – with the archetypal cynical, Sam Spadeish detective hero – with a real immersion into the foreign world of the classical past. The most recent book of his I’ve read, Arms of Nemesis, really brought home how horrific it must have been to be a slave. And it got me thinking – millions of people, possibly the majority in the classical world (as far as I recall, the number of Athenian citizens, who were of course all free males, was a tenth of the number of Athenian slaves) lived in this state of permanent insecurity, literally dehumanised and debased.

This, to say the least, can’t help but have had some profound psychological effects. And considering that, presumably, of people alive at the present moment, a good proportion have slavery somewhere, perhaps very deep, in their ancestry, perhaps this underlies many of the enduring psychological difficulties we call personality disorders. After all, we are still only beginning to realise the intergenerational effects of traumas such as the post World War II exodus and expulsions of Germans from Eastern Europe Martin’s post on the enduring health effects of 9/11 rekindled this train of thought.

Obviously in the U.S. there’s an ongoing controversy about reparations for slavery, the assets of companies who profited even indirectly during the Holocaust, and other such issues. Perhaps we should all try and lobby the Italian government for reparations from the slave holding of the Ancient Romans!

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Apologia pro blogging-hiata sua

Somewhat without my being aware of it, this blog has been pretty quiet for a while – indeed I have mainly been reblogging other people’s content or posts from my other blog .

 

There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, my involvement in the CCIO and specifically the Lighthouse Projects has obviously taken up more of my time.

 

Secondly, to a certain degree this blog’s original intention of being a personal archive of my more medically themed writing has reached a little bit of a stop – most of what I can easily access of my own writing has already been posted. There is still quite a bit of stuff I have written for the Irish Medical Times and Eurotimes which I have not full access to, but the interest of this may be limited. There are also some academic papers I have written. However most of the purely medical writing I have done which is readily accessible is now somewhere on this blog.

 

Thirdly, both this blog and my other one were  intended as purely personal fora for working out ideas and to find common themes in my writing. With both, I have found a more public purpose also. On the Seamus Sweeney blog I have found myself exploring my interest in nature more and more, and dipping my toe in the world of nature blogging .In a way, the blog has helped me notice that this interest is more than an “interest” but something vital and key for me. Here, the blog has been a forum to discuss meetings I have been to and in particular my journey into CCIO land , as well as bookmarking paper that seem interesting (or just odd)

Finally (for now), I practice medicine as Séamus Mac Suibhne and for everything else, including non-medical writing, I am Séamus Sweeney. This developed not through any design on my part but simply because my birth cert is in Irish, therefore my degree, therefore my Medical Council registration and so on. However, one wouldn’t have to be any sort of psychotherapist to interpret this split in all sorts of interesting ways, some of which might even be correct. Of late I have noticed a bit of a convergence of interests between Séamus Mac and Séamus S, most evident here by the reblogging of pieces from one blog on the other. So perhaps this dichotomy may be closing.

I am hoping in the coming weeks to be able to blog a little bit more here. On the Lighthouse Projects in particular I hope to have some exciting announcements. I can also reveal that I have been given a copy of Helen Pearson’s Life Project to review.

 

Reflections on this blog

Narcissistic as it is, I am thinking about this blog and its purpose. Originally, this was simply a personal curatorial project (as described in the original “Hello World” post WordPress helpfully sets up)  to try and identify common threads in my writings about medicine. I didn’t really think of any readership or wider dissemination.

It has evolved to be something else. I have tended to use this to post on various meetings, papers, and books I have read, with a medical focus. In particular I have posted on meetings such as the AMEE Hackathon and the CCIO . My CCIO role has developed somewhat and it is possible my blogging here may reflect this.

Blogging has been a more positive experience for me than it was in the past  – I have certainly found it a helpful medium to clarify my thoughts on various topics. It is also interesting that some posts have struck some kind of chord. I did not intend this blog initially to be what it has become. It will be interesting to see where things go.