Evariste Erwin SebahutuBallsbridge University, Dominica
Title: The conceptualization of psychocide and psychoethnicide: Power struggle and mental health degradation in post-genocide Rwanda
With the dynamic evolution of the art of war, the recognition of the significance of psychological manipulation in military strategy has paved the way for the development of psychological warfare. This concept revolves around the use of propaganda and psychological operations (PSYOPs) to influence human cognition and decision-making. With the advent of mass media, propaganda has gained immense traction in military tactics.
PSYOPs are deployed to demoralize enemies by inundating them with false or distorted information that directly targets their cognitive processes and decision-making abilities. In military conflicts, innovative psychological torture methods, known as non-touch torture, have proven highly effective in breaking the will of war prisoners to extract information. However, both propaganda and psychological torture were proven to have severe, long-lasting consequences, including the development of mental disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.
The rise of military regimes and oligarchies, especially in economically disadvantaged and post-conflict nations, has resulted in the deployment of these psychological techniques on their own citizens under oppressive authoritarian rule.
When used domestically, governments often employ coercive tactics, including brutality, often human rights abuse is concealed through practices like gender washing and sports washing. This leads to extreme poverty, injustices, and chronic social distress, straining the population’s limited coping resources, ultimately causing mental health deterioration. This deliberate mass mental harm by a small elite group pursuing absolute power is termed “Psychocide.”
In ethnocratic regimes, these tactics often target specific ethnic groups, causing enduring and trans-generational mental health deterioration, resulting in an increasing prevalence of mental disorders. This phenomenon is termed “psychoethnicide.” This paper aims to provide a conceptual framework for understanding psychoethnicide, focusing on ongoing ethnic-based psychological warfare and propaganda in Rwanda. By examining this context, the paper sheds light on the substantial contribution of psychoethnicide to the rising burden of mental disorders in affected populations.
Evariste Erwin Sebahutu is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Health at the Ballsbridge University, Dominica. His research interests include the politics of health and diseases, mental health and disorders, social epidemiology, the philosophy of health and diseases, and literature synthesis. He is a pioneer of the Integrated-blame game theory of ethnicity, the Biopsychopolitical model (BPP) of mental health and disorders, the concept of Social Distress Coping Disorders (SDCDs), the concept of Multiple Mental Disorder (MMD), and the current Pyschocide and Psychoethnicide.