Stories about psychology

#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 ...

Read Full Post

#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 ...

Read Full Post

Another life lost to depression and yet we don’t consider mental health a grave issue?

Mental health should now be the top priority of every person wanting to function fully and maintain a healthy life. However, most of the world does not take this need seriously, and Pakistan is no exception. The country at large remains unaware of the importance of sound mental health, and while certain campaigns do address such issues, they mainly cater to a particular class. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and hundreds of other psychological conditions aren’t taken seriously here, as people believe they will disappear on their own or by prayer, or else the person will be treated harshly or ...

Read Full Post

“Like father, like son”: Are you hitting, scolding your kids because they are turning into you?

Recently, my friend narrated a story to me which shook me to the core and instigated me to write this blog. A week ago, she witnessed a close relative of hers scolding and hitting his 10-year-old nephew over the fact that the child had started using abusive words in his day-to-day conversations. She added that the outrageous part of the scene was that the man is a habitual user of abusive words himself and was also reiterating offensive phrases while scolding the child over doing so. This is where it hit me yet again, how messed up we are as ...

Read Full Post

The Alienist might not be the greatest show ever, but it is definitely worth a watch!

My love for a crime thriller with a period setting should not be a surprise to anyone anymore. So when the adaptation of Caleb Carr’s 1994 bestseller The Alienist was announced, I was already sold. The deliciously macabre period caper is set in the 1890s and can be considered as the grim American version of the classic Sherlock Holmes, with Dr Laszlo Kreizler playing the titular character. For the uninitiated, the title refers to the 19thcentury belief that people suffering from mental illnesses were alienated from their true natures and the experts studying them were known as such. Or in ...

Read Full Post

Does going to a psychologist mean that one is “crazy” or “weak”?

Whenever I tell someone I am a psychologist, I usually get one of two responses: “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now?” “You must be pretty crazy to deal with so many crazies!” I recently went to get my driving license renewed, and when I was called in for a medical evaluation, the assistant asked me for some personal information, including my profession. When I told him I am a psychologist, he suddenly paused and asked, “Kya main aapko pagal lagta hoon? Mere dost mujhe pagal kehte hain.” (Do I look crazy to you? My friends call me crazy.) This was an amusing, but not ...

Read Full Post

Is ‘Adultery’ the way to save a marriage, Paulo Coelho?

I first came across this novel when my roommate was reading it. Just the title, Adultery, caught my attention and intrigued me enough to ask him if I could borrow it. This was when another roommate, and student of psychology, told me the psychological content in this novel. This further elevated my enthusiasm to start reading this book by Paulo Coelho. To know what this book is about, the synopsis on the cover will give you an interesting gist: “A woman in her 30s begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody’s eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage, ...

Read Full Post

I stutter, but I am not ashamed

I just defended my master thesis successfully. But the process of preparing the presentation for me was not so simple. It took one day for me to prepare the presentation and more than one week for selecting the words and sentences carefully, so that I could conceal my stuttering in front of the jury. After selecting the words, I practiced the whole presentation for about ten times and tried to reduce my speaking rate by stretching the vowels and consonants. But I was still worried; this led me to video recording my presentation to assess my voice and hand gestures. The ...

Read Full Post

Do you need a ‘reason’ to be depressed?

‘An unemployed man, tired of the financial crises, hangs himself to death.’ ‘A woman takes her own life before killing her children due to conflicts and problems at home’. ‘A jilted lover shoots himself in front of the girl he wants to marry.’ The lack of awareness about mood disturbances, including depression, are obvious by the kind of media coverage of the incidents of suicide, which often broadly and superficially look at the obvious external stressors and fail to highlight it as a mental health issue that can affect even those who apparently may not have any external social or/and financial stressors. The recent ...

Read Full Post

Depression is not an ‘abnormality’

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society changed my life forever. Before the movie, I had no idea what I wanted do with my life. Some days I wanted to be a doctor, on others I’d aspire for whichever career was my elder sister’s favourite at the time. But as the credits rolled in at the end of the film; I knew I wanted to be ‘Mr Keating’ and connect with people the way Williams’ character had. I wanted to teach and perhaps be able to influence my students’ lives the way Williams had done in the movie. Without realising it, across oceans and ...

Read Full Post