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Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 1992 Apr;(16):53-64.

Social origins of the brain fag syndrome.


The aetiology of psychiatric morbidity associated with education in Africa was explored using two different screening methods (as described in paper III, this supplement). The interactive effect of psychosocial variables was examined by Log linear analysis which demonstrated five independent factors: (a) the financial implications of education which represented the change from subsistence to cash economy; (b) fear of envy and bewitchment which represented the intense cultural response to education; (c) parenting in the pre-school years which was the independent family variable; (d) academic ability; (e) attributes of the school. Age of starting school and birth rank had a marginal effect. Current family adversity in terms of unstable parental union, paternal use of alcohol, polygamy and sibship size operated by interactive or additive effect. Gender and social status had no effect. The brain fag syndrome can be related to the complex social changes during rapid social transition where education is a major agent of change.

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