#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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Calling my rapist my ‘brother’: why the ‘sister card’ reinforces the rape culture

Whenever a scandalous rape case makes the rounds in the news, it is accompanied by a familiar pattern of responses from the public. The horrifying news immediately invokes a wave of shock and pity amongst the masses. It inevitably elicits a sense of chill among parents, especially those who have daughters. And then there is this flood of remarks questioning the character of the victim for being in the place of the rape, especially if it happened at night. And then come the comments wondering how a man, in spite of having a mother and sisters in his family, ...

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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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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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