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Akhtar, S. (2014). The Mental Pain of Minorities. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(2):136-153.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(2):136-153

Mental Pain

The Mental Pain of Minorities

Salman Akhtar

The discord between the subjectivity of minorities and their ecological and cultural surround often causes them chronic mental pain. The unease felt by minorities arises from their being used as dehumanized targets of the majority's projections, as well as from the figure-ground discord in their subjectivity. Seeking to anesthetize their distress, minorities retreat from social participation, nostalgically idealize times and places where they were not the minority, dream of times or places which could accord them majority status again, exalt fundamentalism, and, at times, discharge impotent rage via acts of ‘terrorism’. Far better than such turn of events are developments that follow when minorities assert their rights and the majority realizes the benefits of collaboration. Societal measures that assure minorities' presence in textbooks of history and their representation in embodied communal narratives (e.g. statues, memorials) go a long way in diminishing their distress. Protection and/or restoration of their rights to vote, run for office, have freedom of movement and expression, and own property are also important. Finally, judicial provision of designating prejudicial acts of violence as hate crimes too increases the sense of minorities' safety. All this is not only good for them; it is beneficial for the society-at-large and raises all sections of society to a higher humanitarian ground.

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