Abstracts from the ‘Introduction’ of the book:
“Afrikaners, my people, have long been accused of being the originators and engineers of apartheid, one of the most disreputable institutions in modern history. Yet the accusers have, on the whole, not taken the trouble to understand the historical genesis of apartheid. That is the purpose of this book.
My aim is not to justify apartheid, but to shed light on the historical events and psychological factors which informed its origination. It is not a history, but rather a case study steeped in history.”
“What compelled the Afrikaners, a people traumatised by British barbarism, to inflict the legalised racism of apartheid on their black countrymen? In other words, what does trauma do to a people?
This question constantly ringing in my head would eventually lead me on the most unexpected of paths, and keep me busy for nearly 15 years, something I couldn’t foresee even in my wildest dreams. It led me to the discovery of the abusive relationship between Englishman and Afrikaner, one of unrelenting humiliation of the Afrikaner by the English, since the British arrival in Southern Africa in 1795, and the tragic consequences this relationship had for South Africa, including, inter alia apartheid.”
“Fifteen years of research for this book has yielded evidence of at least 200 years of prejudice against Afrikaners. My psychotherapy practice in Cape Town and Swellendam continues to uncover many stories of humiliation. It is important that Afrikaners understand their own history. Otherwise how do you live with the guilt? How do you explain the past to your children – without creating new ghosts and falsehoods? How do you mourn and heal without knowing about the past which has shaped who you are today?
Although this analysis focusses on one group, the Afrikaners, the fact is that trans-generational re-enactment of trauma and humiliation is a universal theme, playing itself out all over the world. A lack of understanding of trans-generational trauma and the impact of humiliation on nations is one reason why ‘people never learn from history’. This book is an attempt to learn from ours.”
About the author:
Hélène Opperman Lewis, MSc (Psych) is a licensed Counselling Psychologist in private practice in Cape Town and Swellendam. In 2001 she enrolled for a doctorate at the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The intended thesis was titled: ‘The Development of a Social Conscience amongst Afrikaners’.
While doing research into Kohlberg and Gilligan’s theories of moral reasoning, she discovered the field of psycho-history. She connected with the Psychohistory Association in New York and Lloyd DeMause invited her to attend the annual IPA convention in 2001. She then completed a course in psychogenics.
By now she had come to realise there was much more to moral reasoning than engaging in a narrow theoretical spat with the subject; a decision was taken to abandon her formal studies and rather research the 300-year history of the Afrikaners within a psychohistorical framework. Only this, she felt, would enlighten her initial question of ‘social conscience’. And so indeed it has. Encouraged by Psycho-analyst/Clinical Psychologist and Psychohistorian Dr David Lotto, the decision to write a book followed. The urgency to share with fellow South Africans that, which is truly relevant, became paramount: the disastrous historical consequences of humiliation and loss followed by trans-generational trauma, and how it played out in South Africa’s history.
This research took 15 years to complete. This book Apartheid – Britain’s Bastard Child completes this journey.
In 2001 Hélène wrote an article, ‘Racism as projection: how early childhood can help it take root’ published in the Rhodes Journalism Review. She presented a piece on the Anglo-Boer War as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa (TRC), at the annual IPA convention in 2002 in New York. She is also a member of the International Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (Human DHS). In April 2013 she convened the annual DHS conference in Stellenbosch. In June 2015 she presented a paper on Humiliation & Trauma at the DHS convention in Rwanda.
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