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Matthew M. Heaton, “Rethinking Brain Fag Syndrome: Students, Symptoms, and a Late Colonial Survey in Nigeria”: In 1959, students at five all-male secondary schools in Nigeria received questionnaires from Raymond Prince, a Canadian psychiatrist temporarily attached to Aro Mental Hospital in Abeokuta, asking them to identify physical and mental symptoms that they had experienced. Prince interpreted the responses as evidence of “brain fag syndrome,” a culture-bound disorder that he claimed was caused by culture clash between the communal “Nigerian personality” and the individualistic demands of the British education system. This chapter revisits the original questionnaires but reads them for the rich variety of interpretive possibilities contained in the students’ comments. While some “symptoms” lend themselves to medicalization, ultimately many of the students seem to be revealing concerns not so much about their own mental states as their uneasiness about their place in an inscrutable education system and a “nervous” late colonial society.

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