Kidnapped Victims May Suffer Serious Psychological Impairment –Dr Elegbeleye, Clinical Psychologist

With the growing spate of kidnapping in Nigeria and the seeming helplessness of the government in fighting the menace, relatives of victims may have to do more in ensuring the safety of their loved ones even after regaining their freedom. 

In addition to raising the ransom demanded by their abductors especially where and when security agents appear helpless in rescuing the victims, their family members may have to go a step further in getting the services of psychologists for their abducted ones upon their release from the kidnappers’ den for proper rehabilitation.

A clinical Psychologist, Dr Ayotunde Elegbeleye said that the trend of skipping psychological interventions upon securing the release of loved ones from their abductors after a long period of dehumanizing treatments and experience portends serious danger for the kidnapped victims.

Elegbeleye, who is a lecturer at Covenant University, Ota Ogun State, stated that kidnapped victims are at the risk of suffering serious psychological consequences after regaining their freedom and advised that government and family members must ensure that victims get proper assistance from professionals.

Dr Ayo Elegbeleye

She also spoke on other vital issues bordering on the psychological impacts and dangers of insecurity in the country and offered suggestions on how the security challenges bedeviling the country could be addressed.

Nigeria is in the throes of a major security challenge with kidnapping for ransom becoming the order of the day. In the past months, scores of people including students had been abducted some of whom have regained their freedom from their abductors and reunited with their loved ones without any form of rehabilitation after several weeks in captivity. As a professional psychologist, what is your view on this development?

We cannot blame the people who are eager to reunite with their abducted loved ones after being in the confines of kidnappers for days, weeks, or months as the case may be because seeing and being with their loved ones after such excruciating separation from them will be uppermost in their minds. They wouldn’t even want to wait a day longer. It is understandable. However, many may not be aware of the psychological impact of the traumatic experience the victims went through and how victims of kidnapping can easily present symptoms of trauma and stressor-related disorders like acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder popularly known as PTSD, or adjustment disorder. This is why it is highly important to provide psychological services for victims of kidnapping before or after reuniting them with their loved ones as the case may be. Victims of abduction really need help after regaining their freedom from their abductors.

What are the likely psychological effects of such hurried reunion without adequate rehabilitation on the victims of kidnapping and what steps would you suggest that the government and relatives of kidnapped victims take before reuniting victims with their loved ones?

Just as I mentioned earlier, victims of kidnapping are highly susceptible to trauma and stressor-related disorders. If psychological first-aid is not provided, victims of kidnapping may become psychologically impaired and experience nightmares, flashbacks, confusion, memory loss, agitation, irritability, insomnia, avoidance of certain places or situations, headaches, depression, anxiety, fear, emotional detachment. So in order to help the victims, the government and the relatives of kidnapped victims must ensure they provide psychological first aid to the victims. The government should provide highly functional rehabilitation facilities with skilled professionals who can provide psychological first aid and other psychological services to victims of kidnapping and necessary psychological intervention before reuniting victims with their loved ones. In cases where family members step in to pay a ransom or secure the freedom of their kidnapped loved ones, adequate efforts must be made to ensure that the victim receives the necessary psychological intervention and become properly readjusted.

With the spate of abductions taking place in Nigeria on regular basis and the attendant inhuman treatments being meted out on kidnapped victims many people often wonder what psychological conditions could predispose people to commit grave and heinous crimes such as kidnapping. Professionally speaking, what do you think is responsible for this?

Certain psychological conditions may increase an individual’s propensity of committing a crime. Research has shown that people with certain mental disorders are more prone to violence if they actively experience delusions or hallucinations or if they have long-established paranoia and are not properly treated. These individuals may commit crimes under the influence of their psychological condition, for instance, someone may commit a violent crime in response to a command hallucination. Similarly, disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders may also increase an individual’s tendency to commit a crime. Studies have also suggested a connection between substance use disorder and crime.

Considering the wave of crimes in the country what should the government and parents do to ensure that exposure to crimes does not arouse the tendency to criminality in young ones?

Government must work very hard to stem the crime wave in the country. If we work very hard to reduce crime in society, exposure to crime will be greatly reduced. The government must intensify efforts to combat and prevent and reduce crime. They say ‘an idle hand is the devil’s workshop’. If there’s extensive job creation and more employment opportunities, especially for the youth, people will be more productively engaged and will not need to resort to criminal activities to make ends meet. Government must bridge the social gap. We must ensure resources are available for everyone and reduce inequality. These are also some of the ways the government can prevent or reduce the crime rate in the country. We must all strive in creating a sense of togetherness, where we become and see ourselves as our brother’s keepers. This will also go a long way in preventing crime, especially at the community level. Sometimes, injustice delayed justice may subtly convey the message that crime can easily go unpunished, which can reinforce criminal tendency. The justice system should do more to deliver swift justice. The government should also intensify efforts to punish white-collar crimes at all levels. The list is by no means exhaustive; however, there should be continuous and proactive steps toward curtailing crime. On the other hand, parents should take up the responsibility of teaching their children the right values and educating them to be good citizens. Parents should let their children know that actions have consequences and not shield them from taking responsibility for their actions. Parents should also be actively present in their children’s lives and adopt a participatory approach to parenting. Finally, the government must make spirited efforts to identify and acknowledge the factors underlying insecurity and take genuine and proactive measures to tackle it.

Source: The Sun

(Visited 65 times, 1 visits today)