Zaofishan Qureshi

Zaofishan Qureshi

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

#TherapistDiaries: Sibling conflicts could be more than what it seems

It is not brought up much, but every therapist who deals with adults, encounters a lot of people with sibling conflicts. There are many cases of hoarding a sibling’s property in my profession. The gender ratio is more or less equal, and at times, the spouse or in-laws of a sibling also play a part in these practices. Scar says to Mufasa in The Lion King, “I’m from the shallow end of the gene pool.” Jasmine*, a woman in her late 30s, had her property hoarded by her younger brother as soon as her husband died. Jasmine was financially independent but her house held emotional value for ...

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Why we should not ‘force’ our children to watch the ritual of qurbani

Children from the entire area had gathered on the roadside, nearby a lavish bungalow in our community. A sacrifice was about to be offered in the name of God. I looked at their faces: frantic, joyous, excited, confused and clueless. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many of these kids have an idea about what was going to happen? By the look of it, it seemed that they were surrounding the giant camel and the butcher merely for the thrill. Thrill is an interesting emotion if you put it in the context of the Abrahamic sacrifice. Because seeking thrill is not the purpose of this religious ...

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#TherapistDiaries: What schizophrenia is – and isn’t

If you start seeing, hearing and feeling things which nobody else can, you are either going to be tagged as having a ghostly experience or be labelled as a dangerous and ‘crazy’ person. And the problem with both of these titles is that they are incredibly dehumanising. As a child, I would see people on the streets and in shrines with no sense of their surroundings. They would stare at you endlessly, talk gibberish, stay in extremely hard-to-maintain postures for long hours and scream at things you could not see. They fought with invisible beings and tried to shut ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Deep affection or just toxic possessiveness?

She was the prettiest one in her big family. The most eligible bachelors of the family had animosity between them because of her. Each of them felt possessive towards her and did not like other contenders approaching her. The two strongest candidates among them even ended up in a physical brawl due to their jealousy. Sounds familiar? This was a story on National Geographic about a certain species of monkeys. Humans aren’t much different, are they? Recently, I was watching the Indian drama film, Kabir Singh, and noticed that a huge number of people praised it for its portrayal of affection. However, what the ...

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#TherapistDiaries: The realities of OCD, today’s ‘urban term’

It’s not uncommon in pop culture to use diseases and illnesses as verbs. This insensitive practice often includes the term Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It’s misused to such an extent that it is almost an urban term these days. I heard a teenager, in a popular movie, talking about his mom who was concerned about her son not washing his hands before eating, say, “She’s so OCD!” A designer, whose job focused on geometric and symmetric designs, once told me, “I have OCD”. She had been diagnosed by her friend, who read a random internet article which said that having an obsession with ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Physical, emotional or cyber, cheating is cheating

Have you ever been cheated on in an intimate relationship? Have you ever seen a couple where one partner cheats on the other on multiple instances yet they are trusted and forgiven each time? Does it ever frustrate you that your friend, acquaintance or a relative cheat on their partner but shudder at the thought of separating or divorcing their spouse? Cheating is one of the most commonly occurring themes in a relationship, and so far, a lot of research has been done on it. There are two categories and three types of cheating. Cheating can either be a one-time incident in a ...

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#TherapistDiaries: From abusive childhood to parental abuse

Like a number of adults who come for therapy, Sarah* also narrated her past. The impact her parents had on her childhood and teenage life continues to affect her in her adulthood. She was neglected by her mother, and didn’t find any refuge in her distant father either. The only time she was showered with conditional affection by her parents was when she would pick sides during their intense and frequent fights and arguments with each other. Did her parents know how distant she had become from them now that she was an adult and they were old? Did they know about the damage they caused ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

Almost a decade ago, I heard a story about a villager that stuck with me for quite a while. I was in my sophomore year of my psychology degree back then, and my novice brain was quite struck by the story of a teenage villager who screamed at the top of her lungs every time her husband tried to touch her. She had been married for four months, but due to her reactions, no physical intimacy had been initiated. Initially, the mother-in-law and the women of the house laughed it off, terming it as mere shyness, even though the girl’s ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Is that tall, dark figure a paranormal force or a cultural belief?

Horror is the most bankable genre in literature and cinema. It plays with our evolutionary drive to survive and the fear embedded in our collective unconscious. South Asian culture is very rich in terms of folklore, myths, ghost stories and remedial measures for the paranormal. Even though the religions followed in South Asian countries validate the existence of paranormal, psychologists feel that much of it is blown out of proportion because of the inherent fear in people. As a therapist in a Pakistani society, it is extremely important for me to distinguish between unexplained paranormal phenomena and a medico-psychological condition triggering ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Why are we violent towards the transgender community?

Not too long ago, I got the chance to watch one of Pakistan’s highest-grossing films. The film was nothing but an amalgamation of misogynist jokes edited together, but what stood out the most to me was just how blatant the movie was when it came to ridiculing the transgender community. As part of our association with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working for the transgender community, my friend and I have spent ample time with transgender people, which is perhaps why when we saw that film, it immediately became evident to us that it was mocking the community for that is ...

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