Stories about therapy

#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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The year of Zainab: Pakistan was jolted awake by the abuse of its children, but is that enough?

She stood by the footpath, her shoulders slouched because of the heavy bag she was carrying. I was waiting at the traffic signal in my car and something about her caught my attention. She was a fine kid, probably 10 or 11-years-old, and was coming from the school adjacent to where my car was stopped. She had two pigtails tied with blue ribbons, and yet her face was very tense. It had an unpleasant, don’t-mess-with-me expression, while her body language could best be described as stiff. Every woman reading this knows the expression, because it never goes away. We are taught to ...

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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 ...

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Counselling survivors of rape: “Who will marry me if I’m not a virgin?”

It’s not easy to live life after being robbed of your sense of safety. The pain is multiplied when it reminds you of the helplessness you experienced. You cannot tell apart the physical hurt from the emotional and no amount of reassurance is enough when you know that no one can empathise with what you have been through. You find no comfort in their concern and the shoulders offered to lean on can never be enough. You’re startled by the touch of even your loved ones and it takes a great deal of time to remember that touch was ...

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I lived with anorexia for 15 years, and no one could help me

I developed anorexia when I was 19. I was going through heartbreak and an existential crisis. I wanted to discover God and also rebel against my liberal background. I wanted to find a purpose for my meaningless existence, and a career on which I could stand on my own two feet. But my parents didn’t understand any of this. My father was too busy with work and I never really spoke to him; my mother was also too busy with her own life and could never understand me, while my brother was studying abroad and had his own life. While ...

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Like father, like son: The abusive and helpless sons of battered mothers

She was in her 90s and her sons had brought her in to get treatment for her depression. As her life unfolded with each therapy session, I got accustomed to her life of long-term abuse at the hands of her husband and in-laws. This was all she could talk about. As we further progressed in therapy, she narrated how her sons were terrified of watching her suffer abuse at the hands of their father. One of her sons was scarred for life with severe anger management issues, while the other had a deep sense of inferiority complex despite accomplishing so much ...

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