random topic 001 (continued)
The severe flogging of the slave Patsey was a traumatic, life-changing event. It was likely what today we would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Solomon Northup writes of how Patsey was affected in Twelve Years a Slave:
A blessed thing it would have been for her —days and weeks and months of misery it would have saved her —had she never lifted up her head in life again. Indeed, from that time forward she was not what she had been. The burden of a deep melancholy weighed heavily on her spirits. She no longer moved with that buoyant and elastic step — there was not that mirthful sparkle in her eyes that formerly distinguished her. The bounding vigor —the sprightly, laughter-loving spirit of her youth, were gone. She fell into a mournful and desponding mood, and often-times would start up in her sleep, and with raised hands, plead for mercy. She became more silent than she was, toiling all day in our midst, not uttering a word. A care-worn, pitiful expression settled on her face, and it was her humor now to weep, rather than rejoice. If ever there was a broken heart — one crushed and blighted by the rude grasp of suffering and misfortune —it was Patsey’s.
She had been reared no better than her master’s beast —looked upon merely as a valuable and handsome animal —and consequently possessed but a limited amount of knowledge. And yet a faint light cast its rays over her intellect, so that it was not wholly dark. She had a dim perception of God and of eternity, and a still more dim perception of a Saviour who had died even for such as her. She entertained but confused notions of a future life —not comprehending the distinction between the corporeal and spiritual existence. Happiness, in her mind, was exemption from stripes —from labor —from the cruelty of masters and overseers. Her idea of the joy of heaven was simply rest and is fully expressed in these lines of a melancholy bard:
“I ask no paradise on high,
With cares on earth oppressed,
The only heaven for which I sigh,
Is rest, eternal rest.”