Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

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Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome - book cover.jpg
AuthorJoy DeGruy Leary
CountryUnited States
SubjectTransgenerational trauma, Racial inequality in the United States, Racism in the United States
GenreSociology / Race Relations
PublisherUptone Press
Pages235 pages

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (PTSS) is a 2005 theoretical work by academic Joy DeGruy (née Leary).[1][2] The book describes the intergenerational trauma experienced by African Americans that leads to undiagnosed and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in enslaved Africans and their descendants.[1] The book was first published by Uptone Press in 2005, with later re-release by the author in 2017.

DeGruy states that Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is not a disorder that can simply be treated and remedied clinically but rather requires profound social change in individuals, as well as in institutions, that continue to reify inequality and injustice toward the descendants of enslaved Africans. DeGruy spent 12 years developing the quantitative and qualitative research for this book. The theory has been generative of subsequent academic work in clinical psychology and black studies.[3][4]

In addition to forming the basis of public lectures and workshops offered by DeGruy and her contemporaries, the research described in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome inspired an eponymous play, which was staged at the Henry Street Settlement Experimental Theater, New York, in 2001.[5]

Critical scholars[who?] say that the PTSS hypothesis pathologizes African Americans and is itself racist.[6][7][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Dr. Joy DeGruy". Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  2. ^ Hammond, Pamela V.; Davis, Bertha L. (2007). "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome". ABNF Journal. 18 (4): 112. OCLC 1132167120. S2CID 141797089.
  3. ^ a b Hicks, Shari Renée (2015). A critical analysis of post traumatic slave syndrome: A multigenerational legacy of slavery (doctoral thesis). California Institute of Integral Studies – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Halloran, Michael J. (2019). "African American Health and Posttraumatic Slave Syndrome: A Terror Management Theory Account". Journal of Black Studies. 50 (1): 45–65. doi:10.1177/0021934718803737. ISSN 0021-9347.
  5. ^ Gates, Anita (September 14, 2001). "THEATER REVIEW; Foraging in the Mind, Where Slavery's Scars Linger". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  6. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (June 21, 2016). "Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a Racist Idea". African American Intellectual History Society. Black Perspectives-US. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  7. ^ Kendi, Ibram X. (2016). Stamped from the beginning : the definitive history of racist ideas in America. New York: Bold Type Books. pp. 491–2. ISBN 978-1-56858-463-8. OCLC 914195500.