A very common psychoneurotic syndrome occurring among the students of southern Nigeria has been outlined and discussed. The symptoms are such as to prevent the student from carrying on with his work and include various unpleasant head symptoms accompanied by inability to grasp what he reads or what he hears in a lecture, memory loss, visual difficulties, inability to concentrate, inability to write, etc.
Various possible aetiological aspects are discussed and it is felt that the syndrome is not directly related to genetic factors, intelligence, parental literacy, study habits or family responsibilities. The hypothesis is presented that the syndrome is in some way related to the imposition of European learning techniques upon the Nigerian personality. It is suggested that European learning techniques emphasize isolated endeavour, individual responsibility and orderlines—activities and traits which are foreign to the Nigerian by reason of the collectivistic society from which he derives, with its heightened “orality” and permissiveness.
It is suggested that an emphasis upon group learning and examination techniques might be of value as preventive measures as being more in accord with the needs of the collectivistic personality.