Hassan Majeed (MD)

Hassan Majeed MD

The author is working as a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, NY. He is a marathon runner and his interests include art, culture, travel, gender, human rights, mental health, and education. He tweets @HassanMajeedMD (twitter.com/HassanMajeedMD)

The loving humanitarian efforts of an American in Pakistan

Due to frequent media images of violent anti-American protests as well as repeated travel-safety warnings from the State Department, most Americans avoid visiting Pakistan. However, Todd Shea, the founder of Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS), has adopted Pakistan as his home and is running several welfare projects there. I learnt about Todd Shea on Facebook several months ago when I was browsing through a list of ‘People you may know’. Pleasantly surprised to learn about the humanitarian work he was doing in Pakistan, I began to closely follow CDRS activities on social media. The 2005 earthquake and the great need to help its victims brought Shea to ...

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How I deal with Islamophobia in the US

Mass shootings in the United States have become a frequent occurrence. Every time I find a breaking news story flashing on my cell phone that mentions a mass shooting, my heart skips a few beats. My first concern is not the number of casualties or the setting of the tragic event, but the name and religion of the shooter. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, those factors define how the news media provides coverage of the event. It was a nightmare come true when I found out that in the recent shootings in California that claimed 14 lives, the shooters ...

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It’s about time we put an end to transphobia in Pakistan

In recent weeks, on two different occasions, four transgender people were brutally murdered in Rawalpindi. The police believe that financial disputes between different groups in the transgender community may be the cause of the crime but religious extremism has also been linked to the killings in this often-oppressed community.  The exploitation of transgender people, known as transphobia, is not something new in Pakistan where sexual minorities are often victims of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. For instance, recently two transgender people were killed and another was gang-raped by an armed assailant who tried to abduct them in Swabi. Transgender or transsexual ...

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If you are gay and Muslim, “change your sexual orientation!”

I was shocked when I read the recent news story about a Muslim family living in Germany who wanted to arrange the marriage of their 18-year-old homosexual son against his will with a Lebanese girl. The son told the media that his family threatened to slit his throat and burn him alive if he did not change his sexual orientation. Eventually, the court intervened and saved the young man from the brutal punishment from his family. This news reminded me of an acquaintance, Azam*, who runs a delicatessen in New York. He told his mother that he was gay when they ...

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Moving on from trauma, moving on from Peshawar

The Taliban’s brutal attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 claimed the lives of over 140 people including 132 children. While hundreds of survivors of this mass shooting need physical rehabilitation resulting from bullet wounds and other physical injuries, the psychological impact of this traumatic event may have a long lasting effect on school children, both in Peshawar and across the nation. It is imperative that the trauma victims must get immediate psychiatric help, and secondary support be provided to children in other parts of the country who, although geographically distant, may still be troubled by this ...

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Busting myths on World Mental Health Day 2014

Every year on October 10th, people all over the world commemorate World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental illnesses and to support efforts for their treatments. Psychiatry, the branch of medicine which deals with mental illness, hasn’t developed much in Pakistan; the treatment and support for people suffering from mental health issues are almost non-existent. Since there are various myths about mental illnesses that cause major road blocks in their treatments, I will take this opportunity to debunk some of those myths. Psychiatric illnesses are the result of some evil activity It is a common phenomenon to pass moral judgments about psychiatric ...

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Stop ridiculing the mentally ill

Individuals with mental health disorders are often the victims of violence and there is wide-spread discrimination directed towards them, whether by intent, ignorance or insensitivity. They are often the victim of jokes or are ridiculed for their behaviour. This attitude can make life difficult for them and present major obstacles to recovery. It is hard for them to find stable employment, living arrangements and relationships because of diminished self-esteem and weak social support. I came across two instances recently of major discrimination against people with mental health disabilities in Pakistan. In the first instance, a TV host, on a recent Ramazan ...

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Doing hash? Think again

During the first week of January 2014, I was surprised to read three different news stories about marijuana – Washington became the first American state to legalise sale of marijuana for adult recreational uses, Sahiwal police seized a truck carrying hash worth 650 million rupees and Uruguay is now the first country in the world to legalise marijuana trade.  Usually, anti-narcotic laws are not strictly enforced in Pakistan when it is comes to hashish (hash) and other drugs of the same family including marijuana (charas), cannabis, weed, garda and bhang. These drugs are widely available in Pakistan and almost anyone who wants them can get them from a local ...

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Why are we being cut off from independent Pakistani films?

In the last few months, screenings of movies with a strong Pakistani connection has surged in the United States. It has been culturally very exciting and rewarding to watch these fantastic films and afterwards attend interactive sessions with their directors and crew-members.  Saving Face, These Birds Walk, Without Shepherd, The Waves, Night Life, Lamha (Seedlings), The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Zinda Bhaag, Torn, Wounds of Waziristan, Good Morning Karachi and Anima State were presented at different film festivals in the United States. A few also went into commercial distribution. While movies like Waar and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi did create a buzz in the Pakistani cinema market, most of the internationally released movies were overlooked by the mainstream Pakistani media. What ...

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Borderline Personality Disorder: ‘‘Every time I get angry or sad, I cut myself with a blade’’

‘‘Every time I get angry or sad I cut myself with a blade. The pain and sight of blood helps me to calm down.’’ A 20-year-old patent told me this in a psychiatric emergency room while showing me her forearm which had multiple superficial cuts. “Every time I feel numb from stress or emotional pain, I cut or burn myself. It’s not with the intent to die but it gives me certain pleasure.” She kept explaining it to me without any emotion on her face. “Life is like walking on egg shells for me, I mess up at every level. I have severe ...

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