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Running head: REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL

IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
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Article Review: The Salient Points of Roast Breadfruit Psychosis: Disturbed Racial
Identification in African-Caribbeans
N.D.B
International University of the Caribbean

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
Poor experiences of racism in a country to which an individual migrated may be a
contributing factor to several negative psychological effects, especially given the fact that
he/she may be forced to fit in or be accepted into the culture of that host-society by the
adaption of a new culture, beliefs and behaviours. The adaption of new culture, beliefs and
attitudes; however, and the possible effects they may have on an immigrant to be considered
a syndrome or psychosis is . With this in mind, the paper will present a review of
the salient points of the review article Roast Breadfruit Psychosis: Disturbed Racial
Identification in African-Caribbeans; it will discuss the arguments of the authors based on
the beliefs they put forward about the problem of identity in African-Caribbean immigrants.
Additionally, it will state how the article contributed to my understanding of the phenomenon
Roast Breadfruit Syndrome, which is thought of as translating into a psychosis.
The review article, Roast Breadfruit Psychosis: Disturbed Racial Identification in
African-Caribbeans by Frederick W. Hickling and Gerard Hutchinson was published in the
year 1999 in the 23rd volume of the journal, Psychiatric Bulletin on pages 132-134. The
review article discussed what is termed an identity problem coined Roast Breadfruit
Syndrome, a problem that is argued to affect Caribbean colonials in Britain. The name roast
breadfruit syndrome according to Hickling and Hutchinson (1999) was associated with the
matter of identity problem and likened to an actual roast breadfruit in terms of the
breadfruits appearance; black on the outside and white on the inside. The salient points of
the article covered several arguments including, the indication that the behaviour of
Caribbean people culturally have been interpreted as pathology. Another salient point argued
by Fanon (1967) is (as cited in Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999) that Black colonials may
integrate the colonisers culture and language into their being and may think that they are
White or become White in so doing, as a means to be accepted in European societies. Also,
Hickling and Hutchinson (1999) are of the view that in rationalizing their identity, persons

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
deemed African-Caribbean are prone to develop symptoms of psychosis which they refer to
as roast breadfruit syndrome, which may translate into a psychosis (p. 133). Finally, the
social experiences in Britain are believed to result in psychiatric problems that plague
African-Caribbeans.
Notably, the article started out by highlighting the purported belief of Halliday (1824)
who put forward that mental illness was rare in Black people as their brains were not
thought to be sophisticated enough. (p. 132). Also, it was noted that the introduction of
psychiatry saw the development of the view held by Smartt (1956) that (as cited in Hickling
& Hutchinson, 1999) rural Africans lacked moral judgment and are susceptible to
psychopathy. However, it is stated explicitly by Glover (1989) that (as cited in Hickling &
Hutchinson, 1999) Britains Caribbean population now, are experiencing an epidemic of
schizophrenia (p. 132). The question that would emerge from a statement as this is, was
schizophrenia actually assessed and diagnosed in these individuals, or is the claim simply
based on speculation? Also, is the matter so widespread that it is considered an epidemic?
Additionally, the statement .
Important to note, the article emphasized the fact that the Caribbean peoples cultural
behaviour is categorized as pathology, in that; Littlewood (1993) likened what he termed a
culturally sanctioned response to broken love-affairs to depressive disorder. Prince (1969)
also deemed that the beliefs of Rastafarians stemmed from a delusion of a group (as cited in
Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999). As a result of these argument, the beliefs held by Littlewood
(1993) and Prince (1969) may be argued as racist and possibly discriminating or attacking, as
they came off as criticizing or labeling a culture/way of life that may be different from their
own.
As put forward by Fanon (1967), in assimilating the colonisers dictates, (as cited in
Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999) colonials may believe that they are or become White in the

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
acts of incorporating into who they are, the culture and language of colonisers. Interestingly,
despite the perceived criticism of Prince (1969), Hickling and Griffith (1994) argued (as cited
in Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999) that racial identity problems derived from experiences in
the Caribbean of colonialism and slavery may be challenged and may enable psychological
transformation by the use of cultural experiences of the people. Here, Hickling and Griffith
(1994) are imploring that what they deem a racial identity problem in African-Caribbean
immigrants may be overcome by cultural experiences.
Noteworthy, the problem of identity that is focused on in this article is classified as
the roast breadfruit syndrome which is purported to be Black skinned people identify
themselves as White and from the perspective of Europeans. This syndrome is believed to be
characterized by great desire to be accepted in European societies, and skin colour alteration
to seem more White. In this context also, it is said to be characterized by rejection
exaggeration and being ashamed of their indigenous culture. As support of the roast
breadfruit syndrome and its effects of individuals, ., Hickling and Hutchinson
(1999) put forward the belief of Morrison (1994), which stated that a little black girl yearns
for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded
only by the evil of fulfillment (p. 132).
Contrary to their beliefs, the arguments put forward by the authors in support of the
believed psychosis may be deemed as stigmatizing. If an individual migrates to another
country, it may be purported as natural for him/her to eventually adapt to the culture and way
of life of that society. Fernando (1999) stated, in support of this that no 'culture' can be
considered in a vacuum, as cultures are never static and are influenced by other human
groups around them constantly adapting and changing (p. 374). As a result, to label these
individuals as aiming to become White is a bit unorthodox. In my belief, where an issue
would arise though in relation to an identity problem is the believed alteration of ones skin

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
colour to fit in and to be accepted. Despite this, the analogy of the roast breadfruit psychosis
in terms of it being compared to an actual roast breadfruit is interesting; however, to deem the
racial challenges faced by African-Caribbean people as a psychosis is something bizarre.
Psychosis, according to Matsumoto (2009) is an abnormal mental state in which a persons
cognition is sufficiently disturbed (p. 412). In addition, it is held that individuals with
psychosis are not able to perceive reality normally; hence, hallucinations or bizarre delusions
thought of as real as well as disturbances in affect often occur. Based on this presented
definition of psychosis, it is even more disturbing to imagine that they would associate what
may be deemed natural to adapt to the culture of a country one immigrates to, to a psychosis,
without evidence to support research and widespread experiments conducted to prove this
claim valid.
Furthermore, African-Caribbean people are said to justify their identity and through
this, are believed to develop symptoms of psychosis/abnormal condition. This is held to be
responsible for great levels of psychosis in Britain, a result of the rationalization of ones
identity, coupled with social-economic deprivation. Argued by Hickling and Hutchinson
(1999), this is as a result of racist experiences, and not being able to succeed due to the terms
of success held within the European context. Statements such as these, without prior personal
research to clarify validity instantly appear as gross exaggerations. In support of this,
Fernando (1999) claimed in a correspondence to Hickling and Hutchinsons review article
that the article was extremely distasteful. The article appeared to have been based purely on
speculation, with no evidence offered for the strong views it contained (p. 374).
Psychiatric problems in African-Caribbean people discussed in this article are said to
be due to experiences socially in Britain, especially that Caribbean host populations are not
deemed to be affected highly by these problems but that it is suggested that Black people are
being affected by factors in Britain (Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999, p. 133). Furthermore,

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
Hickling and Hutchinson (1999) noted that psychoses occur in a large number of people who
are Black in North America and Europe due to both racial identity seen as abnormal, as well
as inhumane environments of racism present there. Though in general psychosis is indeed an
issue experienced by many individuals, to link the experiences socially as well as inhumane
environments to the main causes of psychosis in African-Caribbean people in relation to
racism may be a bit farfetched. Significantly, poor social experiences and inhumane
environments are conditions that are supposed to possibly manifest into negative effects on
individuals who experience these circumstances; however, they may not be sole causes of
psychological problems.
Significantly, the article has provided insight into what seems a phenomenon that is
greatly supported by the writers in an attempted to provide a terminology or explanation to
the pressures of living as a colonial where racism may influence a persons behaviour and
change his/her culture and identity in the name of acceptance. The psychosis as it is
presented may also be seen as an evolving terminology used to explain the effects of
immigration to another country, especially highlighting the loss of ones own cultural beliefs
and the adaptation of anothers culture. However, there are criticisms to its validity and
rationality as well as the extent to which it is emphasized. In addition, the article has
provided a fair understanding into the issues of racism and identity problems, as well as the
possible psychological impacts it may have on migrants, but have proven to overemphasize
what the true problem may be.
CONCLUSION

REVIEW OF ROAST BREADFRUIT PSYCHOSIS: DISTURBED RACIAL


IDENTIFICATION IN AFRICAN-CARIBBEANS
References