Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Ghanaian Society

Before i get into my subject matter i think it would be best for me to express the spirit in which i write. Many might think that this article was born out of national hatred or some racist ideology. But people who are not able to step back and think only on an objective level, will most certainly miss much valid and necessary points that I’m attempting to rise in the Ghanaian social mindset.

What is Sociopathic Personality Disorder, or its more commonly known parent antisocial personality disorder? As defined by sociologist in common sources below:

A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring for as long as either childhood, or in the case of many who are influenced by environmental factors, around age 15, as indicated by three or more of the following:

1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
2. deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
3. impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
4. irritability and aggression, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behaviour or honour financial obligations;
7. lack of remorse, as indicated by indifference to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;
B) The individual is at least 18 years of age.
C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D) The occurrence of antisocial behaviour is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

This behaviour as defined is a mental illness, a flaw in mental ability that in general terms affects the whole nation. In a developing nation such as Ghana the effects of individuals who suffer from this condition can be catastrophic. As Ghanaians, who at the best of times are struggling to engrain a national identity and a social oneness simply fail when faced with the hindrances of this plight.

By the end of this writing you will see that this condition is in particular pervasive within Ghanaian society, and in perhaps higher than global averages. What is undisputable is that in Ghana the damage to social order because of it is extremely high, so high that it threatens the very fabric of the society.

What is interesting in the definition is the reference to the word disorder. Disorder as opposed to order is one of the first observations foreigners who come to Ghana describe. This is most blatant in road use and transportation.

I have wrote in the past about my bewilderment of how Ghanaians approach and handle traffic regulations in “Driving in Ghana”. At the time i didn’t see the root cause of this. In fact most of the articles i have written are in some way related if not directly to Sociopathic Personality Disorders in Ghanaian society.

There is an easy way to detect this condition in any society. I call it the queuing test, whether there is a queue of cars or a queue of people. The question is if the discipline of the queues members enables them to wait till their turn.

Invariably you are going to find someone who will take his chances and try to jump the queue. This happens to some degree i would imagine in all nations. However at the same time as expecting this to happen to a degree we should not expect it to happen MOST of the time, or to the extent that it corrupts others who was at first willing to maintain their turn and responsibility. Unfortunately if we are honest this is the case in Ghana.

Whether it is people queuing for a means of transport (Tro tro) or that Tro Tro itself queuing in traffic. It is common for cheating and a disregard for other people’s rights to take place. Most of the time when this behaviour occurs in Ghana it contaminates others who are also in the process of queuing. This leads to many people jumping the queue. On the road in Ghana this means cars driving on the outside and into where people are expected to walk, thus disorder.

This is a clear indication of endemic Sociopathic Personality Disorder as defined in its opening point and points numbered five and four. Unlike most other places In Ghana there are much more indications of Sociopathic Personality Disorder driving home the diagnoses of its pervasiveness in Ghanaian society. Let us look further into the definitions.

Point number two: “deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;”

It would be near impossible to give a clearer and more accurate description of the “Sakawa” industry in Ghana. This is where many of the nation’s Youth are engaged in computer fraud, assuming false identities in order to con unsuspecting foreigners out of huge amounts of money a huge problem which has been addressed by both the present and last governments.

This point also addresses the market situation where traders will change prices at a whim depending if they feel they can get more money out of a prospecting buyer.
The question which applies to most legitimate business practices of “How much does this cost?” does not apply in most of Ghana’s markets, because the “cost” price is invisible and the charge changes according to who the buyer is. This is not only deception but criminal in most developed nations.

These are only a few examples of what is termed more commonly as “corrupted business practices” however this element of the disorder can be seen on the social fabric of not only business but really every facet of human interaction in Ghana. It is not uncommon for deceptive relationships to be hatched out of greed for money in marriages as well. There are many cases of unsuspecting foreigners who take Ghanaians seriously thinking that they are sincere partners, even to the extent of parenting children but have found out they were being deceived to get a visa or some means to an end. Some of these cases involve many family members who have colluded against the individual together.

Point number three: impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;

Again there are many examples here of not individuals but of the general society having the propensity to fail in preoperational planning.

I am not interested necessarily of the individual who is suffering from this disorder only the generality of it in Ghanaian social norms. If it is there in general terms it would mean a clear indication of the extent of the numbers of individuals who are suffering from the illness. Failing to plan ahead is one of the easiest disorder elements to prove.

We can start with the actual planning of the infrastructure, the haphazard way anyone who feels the need to build builds, the many cases of homes that need to be bulldozed after their completion, the inability to generate enough electricity for a foreseen growing population. The list is endless, even the general perceived notion that seatbelts are not necessary are an indication here.

Point number five: reckless disregard for safety of self or others

I would refer you back here to my “Driving in Ghana” Article on this blog which was written a few years ago and is a clear example and definitive description of this point in Ghanaian social life. So far as to say things have not changed much. It is amazing the number of incidents that begs for belief when it comes to assessment of danger by Ghanaian’s.

Anyone who knows Ghana will not even attempt to dispute this point..

Point number six: consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behaviour or honour financial obligations.

A good way to test a nation’s honour of financial obligations is to look at the loan availability from the banks in that nation. Ghanaian banks have limited loan services that only an few people can take advantage of.

According the specialist sociologist/psychologists if you have only three of the symptoms above you are classified as having Sociopathic Personality Disorder, I think i have proven that Ghana in general has more than three. The purpose of this writing is not to condemn the Ghanaian people but rather to point out where they are suffering from a condition that ultimately is their own undoing.

If you love Ghana as i do wouldn’t you tell her the truth so that the problem gets solved? Unfortunately truth is not always nice. I pray that the intelligent Ghanaian social scientist will get to work on this problem so that we have a nicer Ghana in the future to live in..

Will Muhammad.

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