Stories about therapy

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: 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: 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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#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: 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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#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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