This paper presents the results of a clinical investigation of 20 patients seen at the mental health consultation clinic of the University of Ife Health Centre in Nigeria with a psychiatric illness associated with study among Africans. The investigation conducted consisted of indepth exploratory interviews, drug-assisted in some of the patients, and its aim was to determine the chronological sequence of events leading to the appearance of symptoms, to identify specific psychological and physiological factors which seemed to have been significant in the precipitation of the illness, and to make a formulation regarding the pathogenesis of the illness.
A number of psychopathogenetic factors were identified. These included a nervous predisposing personality, high emotional/motivational drive for achievement, psychostimulant abuse, and sleep deprivation. A dynamic formulation is proposed as to how these factors might be operating. It is acknowledged that the brain fag syndrome is a multifactorially determined illness and that there is a need for further studies to confirm the observations made in the present study and to identify other factors of pathogenetic significance.
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