Zaofishan Qureshi

Zaofishan Qureshi

The author is a Clinical Psychologist and an Educationist based in Islamabad. She tweets @Zaofishan (twitter.com/Zaofishan)

#TherapistDiaries: A hard worker is not the same as a workaholic – the latter is an addict

Farooq’s* work was a matter of utmost importance for him. He used metaphors like “battlefield”, “winning” and “war” when talking about work. He worked in the corporate sector and was at a higher level of the ladder. He sought therapy because all his subordinates hated him. He had a sense that his subordinates, who at some point were his colleagues, were jealous of his success and plotted against him all the time. Farooq was a workaholic, and his perfectionism drove not only his subordinates but his friends away as well. He took no offence in working overtime or even sleeping at ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Old age and the game of betrayal

The mere sight of my dad’s shivering hand gives me heartbreak. He has crossed 60, and hence the strength of his body keeps drifting away every once in a while. My mom, in her 50s, struggles with circadian rhythms due to her increasing age. Her screen time – YouTube and Facebook mainly – has increased in the past five years. She bonds with us and her friends over puppy videos and babies-gone-funny posts. There is an innate air of sadness about old age. We are powerless creatures in a number of ways. It is both, our infancy period and old age ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Unmasking the paedophile

What would you call an adult who abuses children for sexual and/or romantic gratification? A paedophile. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a child is a human being less than 18 years of age. Going by the CRC’s definition, the global authority for all mental health practitioners, the American Psychiatric Association, has set a particular criteria to diagnose someone as a paedophile. Paedophiles can be exclusive or non-exclusive. Exclusive paedophiles are the ones with sole preference for children for romantic and/or sexual relationships, while non-exclusive paedophiles have a preference for adults as well. The perpetrators ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Unrequited love, a choice or a consequence?

South Asian culture, particularly India and Pakistan, romanticises the notion of suffering in unrequited love. This emotionally-draining, one-sided road is deemed as a higher form of love and is attributed to purity. No wonder harassment is so common in our culture. “Sacha ishq wohi hai jo kabhi mil na paey.” (True love is that which can never meet.) The aforementioned sentence is sort of a slogan for these one-sided lovers. Since Sufism is one of the most dominant philosophies followed in Indo-Pak culture, the masochism involved in unrequited love – ishq-e-majazi – is held as a necessary stage towards attaining a divine form of ...

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#TherapistDiaries: How to move on from divorce and why it’s harder for women

Is there a good time to end a marriage?  Is it better to wait and let things pile on in hopes of a better future?  The possibilities are endless.  A lot of couples seek help from therapists not knowing whether they want a divorce or have just given up trying to make the marriage work. Most of these couples hope that the therapist would make the decision for them, but that’s not how it works. A marriage counsellor or a marital therapist may not be the answer to these questions because at the end of the day, it is the couple’s choice and decision. However, a therapist ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Do you think you’re in an abusive marriage?

Her family thought that “she liked being abused by her spouse”. In fact, those were the actual words of her own mother. Her friends and co-workers thought the same. She kept on going back to the husband who embarrassed her in front of people over her appearance and body weight. She kept going back to the husband who used to beat her black and blue, and she had to go to work with bruises on her face. Eventually, he made her leave her job too and the abuse stopped for a while, only to trigger the worst physical and sexual abuse phase ...

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#TherapistDiaries: The dilemma of being in the closet in Pakistan

I was recently discussing with a patient about how in our culture we do not like to disappoint our parents and would put up with any unreasonable demands and rules just to escape an irrational guilt of hiding something from them or revealing our true selves. This overwhelming guilt or anxiety is experienced even in the most casual rules they set early on in our lives regarding food, friends, religion and so on. For instance, in our society, a 30-plus working adult would rarely challenge these irrational rules and if they do, they carry a great amount of guilt in ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Anxiety, depression and suicide – the realities of forced marriages

She was barely 19 at the time. She sat on a silver throne decorated with floral arrangements with a posture similar to that of a sacrificial being. My emotions in this moment were as artificial as the floral arrangements. I looked over at the 50-year-old man sitting beside her, and could no longer pretend to be happy. Because that’s when it registered – she was getting married to this man. All of a sudden, my conversations with this girl, with whom I had played games throughout my childhood, came rushing to my mind. I also recalled what she had told me just a ...

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The year of Zainab: Pakistan was jolted awake by the abuse of its children, but is that enough?

She stood by the footpath, her shoulders slouched because of the heavy bag she was carrying. I was waiting at the traffic signal in my car and something about her caught my attention. She was a fine kid, probably 10 or 11-years-old, and was coming from the school adjacent to where my car was stopped. She had two pigtails tied with blue ribbons, and yet her face was very tense. It had an unpleasant, don’t-mess-with-me expression, while her body language could best be described as stiff. Every woman reading this knows the expression, because it never goes away. We are taught to ...

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Another life lost to depression and yet we don’t consider mental health a grave issue?

Mental health should now be the top priority of every person wanting to function fully and maintain a healthy life. However, most of the world does not take this need seriously, and Pakistan is no exception. The country at large remains unaware of the importance of sound mental health, and while certain campaigns do address such issues, they mainly cater to a particular class. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and hundreds of other psychological conditions aren’t taken seriously here, as people believe they will disappear on their own or by prayer, or else the person will be treated harshly or ...

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