Consequences of War and Mental Disorders -By Richard Odusanya

Sam Houston, a Virginia-born lawyer, soldier, and politician, achieved lasting fame as the leader of the Texas Revolution. After leading Texan troops to victory over Mexican forces in the Battle of San Jacinto, he became the first Lone Star Republic President and one of the first two U.S. Senators to represent Texas after joining the Union in 1845. He had said; “When a government has ceased to protect the life, liberty, and property of the people…and…becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression…it is a…sacred obligation to their posterity to abolish such government and create another in its place.

Today, the situation and events in Nigeria bring back sad memories and echoes of the events that preceded the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. Wars have played an important role in the history of psychiatry in many ways. It was the psychological impact of world wars in the form of shells that underpinned the effectiveness of psychological interventions during the first half of the 20th century. It was the recognition of a proportion of the population unsuitable for military recruitment during World War II that spurred the creation of the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States.

Instructively, among the consequences of war, the impact on the mental health of the civilian population is one of the most significant. Studies of the general population show a marked increase in the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders. Women are more affected than men. Other vulnerable groups are children, the elderly and the disabled. Prevalence rates are associated with the degree of trauma and the availability of physical and emotional support. The use of cultural and religious coping strategies is common in developing countries.

Interestingly, there are no real winners in wars as all parties involved must suffer the consequences with often high casualties on both sides. Rather than dealing with the consequences resulting from a war and its end, this article will look at its direct effects on people, politics, the economy and the environment. The psychological effects, too, have an impact on the daily lives of survivors. The fear and insecurity resulting from the daily experiences of war, whether as perpetrators or victims, leave their mark. Late symptoms can be post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. These consequences affect both civilians and soldiers.

“War will never be over, never, as long as somewhere a wound it inflicted still bleeds”, Heinrich Böll, German Nobel Prize for Literature, characterized the long-term effects of wars. War-wounded, whether soldiers or civilians, often suffer physical injuries for decades. Often they have to learn to live with mutilation, having been blinded or deafened. The effects of war also include the massive destruction of cities and have lasting effects on a country’s economy. … Armed conflicts have important indirect negative effects.

Arising from above, the current unpleasant and very worrying circumstances of our beloved country, Nigeria, are disturbing. All indicators of the painful and preventable incidents of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, which has become one of the most divisive wars in post-independence African history. Its traumatic effects, evident in the lingering ethnic animosities and mistrust, which continue to shape the narrative of Nigerian identity and the nation’s future, are resurfacing. Problems of religious intolerance, extremism, exuberance, terrorism, kidnappings, insurgency, murders and banditry have increased and the system has been put on high alert over the past few months.

Ironically, the current situation in our beloved country, Nigeria, is no different from that in some war-torn countries like Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, Nigerians think something is wrong or the leaders seem to be surprised. The unfortunate situation is similar to what we read about Emperor Nero as Rome burned: Perhaps the most infamous of Rome’s emperors, Nero Claudius Caesar (37-68 AD) who ruled Rome from 54 AD JC until his death by suicide 14 years later. He is best known for his debauchery, political murder, persecution of Christians and passion for music which led to the probably apocryphal rumor that Nero “played” while Rome burned in the great fire of 64 AD. Borrowing from the title of the epic film about Emperor Nero; I now ask Nigeria, “Quo Vadis?”

The drumbeat of war is echoing through the streets as Nigeria prepares for the 2023 general elections. The election, scheduled for February 2023, has heightened the already tense atmosphere. Our fault lines have widened, religious and ethnic issues have further polarized our citizens, leading to divisions worse than post-civil war Nigeria and Biafra. But a far more insidious deciding factor in the polls could be Nigeria’s religious coloring. Amid the collapse of the state apparatus to protect life and property, anarchy has been unleashed on Nigeria. The bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) of Hobbes, characterized by bloodshed, bloody communal feuds, kidnappings, banditry, etc., now reigns supreme in Nigeria. No day passes without frightening incidents.

In the same vein, a good friend of mine, a product of the Federal Government College system is convinced that Nigeria was much more united after the civil war than it is now. There are too many divisions now. Judging from the interactions on their Federal Government College WhatsApp group chat, it is dismayed that a large number of former students have retreated to their ethnic and religious cocoons. They first identify themselves by tribe. Then region and religion, whatever claims to be Nigerian. There is work to be done on the creation of the NIGERIAN.

In conclusion, let me conclude this article with the words of Martin Luther King Jr., an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader of the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. An African-American church leader and the son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr. He had said; “…I found myself in complete agreement when I read the opening lines (of the statement): ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal,’ King told the crowd gathered at Riverside Baptist Church in New York. York.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this article to the evergreen memory of Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet and critic considered to be the dominant figure in modern African literature. His first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), occupies a central place in African literature and remains the most studied, translated and read African novel. With Things Fall Apart, his No Longer at Ease (1960) and Arrow of God. “There was a country” by Chinua Achebe says it all. Things probably fell apart. Anarchy weighs heavily. The recent bravado of terrorists killing officers and men of the elite Guards Brigade leaves a sour taste in our mouths. The road to anarchy!

Things have really fallen apart – ARISE ‘O Countrymen.

Richard Odusanya is a social reform crusader and the organizer of the AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI

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