Applications of Behaviour Therapy in Nigeria

Oladimeji, B. Y. (1989)

Book chapter

In most communities in Africa, seeking professional assistance for psychological problems is a relatively new development. In the past, individuals with emotional or psychological difficulties were either convicted as witches or simply allowed to wander around begging or stealing. They eventually died after many years of misery and degradation. Unfortunately, the belief that they are incurable still persists today. With improved social and economic conditions, a more helpful attitude towards deviant behaviour evolved. Such people are often taken to traditional healers or prayer houses to undergo punitive treatments, with a little nursing care at exorbitant prices. The advent of Western trained practitioners brought the view that abnormal behaviour should be included within the domain of medicine as a disease not unlike other diseases. Medical thinking and investigatory methods, a variety of psychotropic drugs and other physically therapeutic methods like ECT, were shown to be effective in the alleviation of mental illness. There was a steady increase in the number of psychiatrists working in different parts of the country. The mental health practitioners also came equipped with psychotherapeutic procedures, like psychoanalysis, hypnosis, etc. However, the professional literature mainly contains accounts of the diverse forms of mental illnesses encountered. It is only recently that attempts to use or adapt psychotherapeutic models are discussed.