Analysis Of Residential School Syndrome

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Residential School Syndrome (RSS) was coined by psychiatrist Dr. Charles Brasfield, and it refers to a group of symptoms exhibited by some survivors of the Canadian residential school system. These schools operated in the early 1900s until the late 1990s, and Aboriginal children across Canada were forcibly removed from their homes to attend. The traumas that students at residential schools suffered ranged from being apart from their families to being physically or sexually abused. Brasfield’s diagnosis of Residential School Syndrome can be seen as both empowering and damaging for survivors of residential schools, and the entire Canadian Aboriginal population. The syndrome affirms the traumas students experienced at residential schools, and …show more content…
Rather than calling a survivor’s behaviours symptoms PTSD, to call them symptoms of RSS is to link them definitely and wholly to residential schools. This contradicts the narrative of blaming the victim; it places full responsibility on the residential school system. Some critique RSS as blaming the victim, but that is not the case. The name ‘Residential School Syndrome’ is inherently removing blame from the survivor and placing it on the schools. To acknowledge residential schools as a factor in destructive behaviours such as abuse in relationships and drug or alcohol use , is to remove some blame from the survivors. When otherwise, a survivor of residential school may have been blamed completely for these actions, the RSS diagnosis alleviates some accountability. This can be a positive or a negative process; being diagnosed with RSS should not completely absolve the actions of a person abusing their wife. Chrisjohn, Young and Maraun dismiss RSS partly because of this idea; while a person abusing their wife might be seen as blameless, they are also, contrarily, the “source of the problem.” However, if that person can receive therapy or any type of help based on their RSS diagnosis, then that diagnosis is a useful measure. Rather than identifying that person as the source of the problem, from the perspective of an RSS proponent, the traumas that that person experienced is identified as the source of the problem. Moreover, RSS acknowledges the intergenerational impacts of residential schools in the difficulties parenting that the survivors face, and the traumas that generations above and below them

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