Brain Fag Syndrome in Western Africa

I was interested in this syndrome specifically because of the relevance it has to my life personally.  As a college student, I know what it’s like to stay up all night studying or be frustrated when I don’t fully understand a concept.  I often get out of the library and say “ugh my brain hurts.”  In Nigeria the students experience a similar type of phenomenon that is called brain fag syndrome. It is thought that the syndrome is rooted from stress in school work.  The diagnoses is based on a series of symptoms such as unpleasant head sensations, memory loss, inability to remember lectures from class, and inability to concentrate.  Basically, it sounds a lot like something involving ADD or ADHD, which many people suffer from in the United States.  Culturally, it affects school faculty and families of the students who experience these symptoms.  Also, I do think that labeling this as a syndrome gives the society an excuse not to teach the way that they should.  Just because a student may not learn the way that society has planned does not necessarily mean they have some sort of problem.  Individually it is really hard on the student to be categorized and it actually may give the student an excuse not to work as hard.  I, for one, know how frustrating it is to sit in class and leave thinking “I do not remember one thing that guy said” but I do know that most of my professors are more than happy to help if I need it.  A lot of the reasoning behind this syndrome may stem from the teaching strategies used in Nigeria.  European teaching is based upon self motivation and individual responsibility for your own learning.  I, for one, could not imagine teaching hard concepts to myself.  The researchers that became involved with this syndrome hypothesize that group learning may be a good preventative measure to consider.



Raymond Prince, The “Brain Fag” Syndrome in Nigerian StudentsBJP April 1960 106:559-570;

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