#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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Connecting bridges and spreading the colours of Pakistan to America

When I first invited Karachi-based truck art group ‘Phool Patti’ to my small, New England town, my intentions were clear: to introduce my community to a softer side of Pakistan, which was still unfamiliar to many. However, the ensuing art project also became a liaison between overseas Pakistanis and their native home. Back in early 2017, through an introductory meet up arranged by the US Consulate General Karachi, I met the Phool Patti artists during a visit to Pakistan. I learnt that although Phool Patti is primarily a commercial truck art business, they are also dedicated cultural diplomats of that sort. They ...

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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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Has Eid ‘modernised’ with time?

Eid shopping is easy these days. Just saunter in any of the malls, check out the popular brands, take your pick and head back home while enjoying any of the easily available branded snacks. For the parents, this is a job well done. For the kids, it’s one of those shopping trips which is topped with a favourite place to eat out, as celebrating Eid for them is just another holiday. However, decades ago, when I was a child, Eid was a different affair. As we prepared for Ramazan, my father would visit his mother – my grandmother – to ...

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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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We praise working mothers like New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden but criticise our own

The past few years have been remarkable when it comes to the world accepting working mothers. Yuka Ogata, Larissa Waters, Jacinda Ardern and our very own Mahjabeen Sheran are all working mothers and politicians who made history by reminding the world of how women everywhere balance motherhood alongside a busy career in a way that fathers never have to. When 42-year-old Ogata brought her baby boy to the Kumamoto City Assembly in Japan in 2017 – her way of highlighting the difficulties faced by working mothers in the country – it led to her receiving a written warning from fellow members for ...

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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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4 foods to stay away from in the scorching summer heat this Ramazan

“It’s summer! The heat is blazing like the fourth of July, I got the air con on, and it’s blasted on high. So just grab something cool and jump in your ride, Pick up everybody, I’ll be waiting outside!” When your little cousins are out of school and blasting Selena Gomez’s hit song, Summer’s Not Hot, all through the day, you know what’s happening. The summers are finally here and so is the holy month of Ramazan! Now it is time to welcome profuse sweating and never-ending thirst. While the sun looks beautiful glistening in the daylight, any Pakistani will tell you that ...

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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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Why single-sex schools are failing your children

Recently, I came across diaries of mine from my mid-teenage years. For close to a year, nine out of my 10 diary entries revolved around some boy or another, while the rest revolved around the intensity of my self-hatred because of how the opposite gender made me feel. There were a few entries scattered throughout concerning friends and family, but that was about it. What put me off was that even after flipping through multiple entries it was difficult to come across actual events from the year. All that particular years’ diary covers is boys and their affect on ...

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