Zaofishan Qureshi

Zaofishan Qureshi

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

What psychological impact is sexual harassment having on Pakistan’s students?

In light of the recent case of harassment that has emerged at the University of  Balochistan, it is vital that we do not shy away from discussing the psychological impact such incidents have on students. As someone who has previously been associated with the academia, it is worrying to see the apathy with which such occurrences are treated and how often teachers accused of harassment are simply not held responsible for their actions. This lack of accountability was the very reason why I left a teaching position about half a decade ago. During my time as an instructor, an entire classroom of students ...

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Why does Balochistan have a dearth of trained psychotherapists?

It was an uneventful day at work when I got a query from an acquaintance asking for a psychotherapist or clinical psychologist in Quetta. I asked everyone I knew in connection to this and exhausted all my options only to find out that there were no practicing psychotherapists or clinical psychologists in the region. It came as a shock to me, after all, why did this major city of Balochistan not have a single clinical psychologist? And what about the rest of the province?  Years passed and somehow this notion remained trapped in my mind, and the requirement for referrals for ...

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How reliable are the mental health clinics in Pakistan?

It was half a decade ago when I started my own mental health consultancy that offered courses and other educational services related to my field. At that time, opening a psychotherapy or mental health clinic in Pakistan was not particularly common. Offering psychotherapy was not lucrative enough for beginner level professionals and only benefitted those at a senior level. Fast forward five years, and I see a significant increase in mental health services, and many of these services are also being offered over the internet in the form of Skype consultations, chats and emails. There are a variety of mental health clinics, ...

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The psychology behind sexual violence

Countless women have been murdered in the name of honour and a number of girls are being avenged through rape for the crimes their male family members have committed. Underage girls are being married off to men thrice their age in compensation of any social embarrassment faced by the girl’s father or brothers. At the same time, there are constant reports of children being on the receiving end of sexual violence. A handful of perpetrators were caught when videos were circulated on social media, but most of them roam free. Sexual crimes and violence have been perpetrated against women and children in almost ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Dissociative Identity Disorder, the reality of multiple personalities

Imagine living in a helpless situation where you have no control over your life. You hold no power to transform or get out of it, where the inner world of imagination is the only escape. This is the very beginning of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder). Where a person has no conscious control over a variety of personality shifts accompanied by distinct sets of emotions, thoughts, language, accents, fashion sense and memories for each personality. The Three Faces of Eve is a classic example of this disorder which is why the movie is included in curriculum of ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Bipolar disorder is much more than mere mood swings

Bradley Cooper paced back and forth in the middle of the night, unable to figure out why a certain author had ended his epic saga in a certain way. He woke his old parents up from their sleep to inquire more about the author’s intentions and demanded immediate gratification for his queries. This scene from Silver Linings Playbook demonstrate the protagonist’s struggle with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterised by shifts and changes in moods that are too overwhelming for the one experiencing them. These shifts can be concerning to the point of suicide as the restlessness and irritability grows. There are three categories ...

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#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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