Zaofishan Qureshi

Zaofishan Qureshi

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

#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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#TherapistDiaries: How toxic masculinity impacts fatherhood and other relationships

Who is the strongest man in your life? Did your response comprise of somebody in an authoritative position over you, irrespective of your gender? And what is it that makes this person ‘strong’ in your perception? I remember a time when a certain male cricketer from across the border cried during a match after being slapped by another player. It was in the news for days and we all laughed our hearts out at his tears. Whenever men express their feelings, we call them names that somehow prove they do not fit the golden category of (toxic) masculinity known as ‘macho’. Macho ...

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#TherapistDiaries: “I feel nothing for my baby” – the conception of postpartum depression

Most of the world celebrated Mother’s Day last week, and this marked yet another year where we overlooked one of the most important factors associated with motherhood: postpartum depression (PPD). For many women, all the labour and sacrifice that goes into creating a child is often not compensated by the birth of said child. Some sacrifices just don’t end with giving birth, and so is the case with this suffering. It is easy to assume that all women fall into the same category when it comes to tolerance to pain, recovering from childbirth and adjusting to daily life with a ...

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#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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