It is quite ironical that the alliance of Russia with the most powerful terrorist in the present world known as Bashar al-Assad has succumbed the millions of lives in the span of just a few months to days.

To one’s amazement, it was not well covered by the media, neither was acknowledged, noticed, considered and realised by the world altogether. The consequences amongst the victims appear initially on a biological level; the hunger, thirst, need for clothing and shelter; which completely unaddressed reach to the psychological level and surface out as frustration, anger, helplessness and in the long term these components acquire the form of revenge. The revenge manifests itself through different forms. Responses/forms are mostly showed where there are pockets of opportunities, loose security measures and unsupervised backgrounds. The expressions of opportunity-based-revenge have put the lives of perpetrators, non-perpetrators, innocents and victims all at great risk.

_67330684_1541462141The root of response is less focused as much as the response itself. This attitude has caused the world to see the “whole” picture in thin slices and off course separately or one can just say in a snapshot. The snapshot portrayal of the whole situation has incited snap judgments, snap decisions, impulsive hatred and quick opinions.

The outcome is the world with divided poles: US vs THEM.

The media, word-of-mouth, debates and for-and-against arguments by the time all would reinforce the energy at the extreme ends. The division would be deepened further, hatred and anarchy will be flared up and in between this many parallel courses of action will be introduced with time.

1) Muslims with a-political and a-religious concerns will have difficulty in their foreign interactions, travellings, achieving career goals in life etc. due to the politico-religious barriers. This will ignite anger within them partly on the policy-makers sand largely on the radicals present within their conforming belief system.

2) This will be reflected by their ignorance of the rights of trampled, deprived and victimised sufferers on their side. The sheer neglect by the people of similar faith would fill the affectee to assume a more polarised position, which means more disgust, ferocity and fanatic approach towards the world including their own brothers and sisters in faith.

3) The distance between the two poles would further facilitate the air of misconception, doubt and disdain towards each other.

4) The absence of real knowledge regarding the root-cause of the situation can introduce the whole new system with one side entirely possessed by “higher-beings” and the other side with “lower-beings”. This difference in mindsets would be considered by the “lower-beings” as humiliating and tragic. These feeling would fill the gaps with viciousness and chaos.

The world is undoubtedly entering into a new realm where the advancement, progression, digitalization have made it a better place than ever. But the same world has reached the lowest level of humanity with brutal lawlessness, racism, despotism, and abuse of power, greed and cruelty.

Last but not the least, with the Trump being a president of America and Angela Merkel being an unlikable figure; I must say we are in for more surprises!


Secured Corners of Faith – The Psychology of Intolerance

She sat next to me, working under my supervision on a project on the correlation between spirituality and mental health. I had been touched by her inquisitive mind and investigative stance on every subject, but today she surprised with prudent intellect.

She asked about my perspective on the fundamental tenets of religion. About the controversial verses and interpretation of a holy Book. Then she raised some arguments and challenged me. In my inability to answer her, I felt a rush of blood flow around my cheeks and ears for few seconds out of anger, but then becoming mindful about this state of rage, I tried to contain the feeling and took a deep breath.

n505985007_6085919_6548769I smiled and gulped my saliva down; faked interest in listening to her. I was partly successful in pretending, as she continued on her tirade of questions and arguments on religion’s essential elements. She left me with feedback that unlike other people, I have been quite tolerant in listening to these radical and agnostic concepts.

After she left, thousands of questions poured into my mind, which I had to answer to satisfy the satiety of reason and to quell the noise of judgment inside.


religious_intolerance_2__angelo_lopezWe always seek corners of deep-seated faith and keep them intense by different measures throughout such as joining religious meditation, spiritual contemplation, recitals, prayers, fasting, giving alms and through pilgrimage. We do it so that we stay mindful of our God all the time. Is this life-long strength not sufficient to introduce the layers of tolerance to listen or evaluate the idea of difference? Are the tenets of religion so weak that by listening to these opinions of radicalism, the damage to these dogmas can be anticipated? Or have we failed to acquire the higher levels of belief in attaining faith and tranquility through religious resources, which can be sufficient to fathom the approach of doubt or variance by other? This inadequate trust on a religion may be stemming from our ambivalent alliance with the Higher Being or due to our inaccurate attitude towards a religion.

imagesWhatever the case, by no means does it reflects the fragile state of any organized religion; but rather the failure of its bearer to understand the conflicting ends of a religion in the contextual aspects of relevant history. To comprehend the psychology of intolerance, one can surely look into the origins of insecurity one has on his or her belief. The hard work which is required to appreciate others’ views is simply a call towards better theological understanding of any creed, the work which sounds quite laborious, effortful task, which is why most people prefer to take the easier way out – they rebuff and deny this opportunity, and reject the chance to gain an insight into others’ cognition and reasoning. This leaves no ground for debate, discussion, negotiation and consideration. It is because of the fact that entertaining the thought of others disables them and is a direct reflection of their own ignorance on the subject, which is completely undesirable for their conscious acceptance.

In this way, the Intolerant chooses his path and gets engaged in trying to make it approvable, definite and holistic for the inquirer and on the other hand, it becomes easier for an inquirer to confirm the said argument out of repugnance to an extreme response. Here, the essence of intelligence and tolerance dissolves in the anguish of ego and obliviousness.


religious-20intolerance-pngThe existing culture of stereotypy reinforces the tradition of following the established norms rather than facilitating the out-of-box, radical, deviant or novel ideas in any form. This culture further introduces the polarization and extremism in opinions and approaches by avoiding the hard work of speculation, because further speculation would uncover the unknown facts and facets of the truth. Most people are not ready to question long-held beliefs. Their inability to look beyond what they already know alienates them from the search for deeper meaning and unusual, different answers.

Resilience, courage and mental illness – the survivor’s life

I was awoken by my mother pulsating shrieks. She was in the room adjacent to mine. I pulled the blanket off my head and looked around. She must have gotten agitated again with no preceding event of provocation.I stayed in bed silently, deliberately and indeed shamelessly, kept on staring at the walls and ceiling. Her voice was growing louder with obscenities. I could feel the heat around my ears and my heart pounding in my chest; I could feel the trembling in my fingers and the churning of my stomach.

I did not know if it was my sweat or my tears, since all was mixed. I pursed my lips as the ambulance horn blared in the distance. Someone must have taken action. Suddenly, she stopped shouting. Steps were heard going- up the stairs of our apartment. A door opened and my mother started yelling again and this time even more loudly. I immediately covered my ears and  pressed down on them really hard.

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This was the second such episode of aggression in a month.

My mother was suffering from schizophrenia.

I was a year old when my father divorced my mother because of her mental illness. Since then my two sisters, mother and I had been living with my aunt – my mother’s sister, the woman who called the ambulance that would whisk my mother away to the hospital.

My older sister got married and left our house when I was only 7.

I remember waking up early to prepare for school but my younger sister would not come out of the washroom. She would repeatedly wash her hands for 1 or 2 hours due to her fear of contamination and dirt. She had been suffering from eczema and recurrent fungal and bacterial infections because of excessive hand dryness from the obsessive compulsive hand washing routine.

She was the most beautiful and intelligent girl in my class and I wanted to be her best friend but I did not know how to talk to her. I was aware of how awkward and unlovable I was. So I distracted myself and looked out of the window instead.

The result was to be announced in an hour.

I got 96% in a class but I was second and not first. I took my prize and came back to my chair. My heart was beating faster than last night, my fingers were trembling and I was sweating profusely. My body was aching due to pain and dejection as if someone had slapped me in front of everyone. She had done better than me; she had obtained  97%.

Unable to take it anymore, I rushed to the washroom. It was hard to hold back those tears. I was ashamed of myself, my life, my failures, and my unquenchable thirst for supreme grades. Success was a dream and it seemed like it was bound to remain just a dream. I was a loser. Utter loser!

“I can’t go on like this.”

I put my head down on the table and started crying. The doctor pushed the tissue box towards me and offered a glass of water.

I drank it. And then answered her questions.

images (1)It was my first consultation with a psychiatrist in her office. It was one hour long. A vent out journey, one could call it.


After she left my office, I documented her current medications, signs and symptoms of her psychiatric illness and a future treatment plan.

My patient was a young 24-year-old student of fine arts, with a family history of parental discord and ultimately divorce, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. She currently suffers from bipolar affective disorder with an ongoing episode of depression and borderline personality disorder.

After completing the note,I placed the chart on the rack. I caught sight of the newspaper that she had brought along with her this time.

Her first story had been published today and she had been excited to show me. I read it. It was astonishingly well articulated short story for school-going children. It was about the goodness of a character and how it significantly affects ones life.

suffering-and-reasonI have been following her progress for the last three years. During that time she has been persistent in her desire to attain excellence in writing and painting.

Today- occupational therapists celebrated her success. Yesterday, her first painting was sold at a good handsome price.

While thinking about her, I realized that therapists and physician also derive lessons and learn wisdom from their patients’ ends.

Sometimes people learn, grow and evolve through thick and thin, regardless of whether they are the patient or the clinician, whether they are the counseled or the counselor. She was indeed a special one in my life who taught me resilience, courage, struggle and optimism.

She has paved her way through the most turbulent of times and has taught me how to see life from within and not without.

Mental Health Stigma in Pakistan

In the present world it is getting harder to take a time out to reflect and consider a psychological well being as an important part of the health. In the same vein, the required care cannot be provided to a mental health of the society where most of the people are worried about the survival. The constant apprehension regarding food, security and shelter has overwhelmed the human mind with emotions (rage and frustration) depriving them of reason.


We all know that this age in which we are living is a world, where the facts and the false figures are mixed together in a way that confuses the observer. Amidst this turmoil, hassle and the struggle of survival, one feels it hard to disentangle him or herself from the shackles of routines and rampant digitalization of life.


The outrageous networking, connectivity and information load have depleted the human’s ability of delaying gratification.


We share the system where by pressing a button or touching a screen we can get what we want from any part of a world. This attribute itself facilitates the impulsivity phenomena and diminishes the capacity of bearing boredom and speculation on one side; and affecting attention and concentration on the other side. At this moment, when self-awareness and purpose is fading from human consciousness and reason is getting replaced with emotionality (secondary to fear and apprehension), it becomes quite difficult to de-stigmatize the established attitudes, and understanding regarding the mental illness.

Mental illness is a sensitive area where families and loves ones out of ignorance (also due to lack of experience) feel shame and guilt. This attitude further enhances the impact of stigma. The widely acceptable prejudiced notions regarding mental illnesses and its nature destabilize the sufferers’ life along with the related family circle(s).  The stigma factors (thoughts, gesture, and attitude towards mental illness) influence disease outcome, course, persons’ functionality, quality of life, stability and a risk of having the illness in future.


Camouflaging the illness and poor awareness regarding it, both of these factors persuade them to seek primary care from quacks and imposters.


The wastage of resources and money frustrates them further. The stigma effect corners the patient and cultivates the air of silence where patient finds it easier to retract back into isolation than to bring up the concerned issue to others for consideration. It wastes initial time period of a patient’s life where he can be brought for the psychiatric consultation. The extensive literature review highlights the area called as the “duration of untreated psychosis (DUP)”. It tells about the duration of illness where treatment was not provided and brewing period of symptoms damages the human brain at molecular, physiological and behavioral level. It defines the prognosis and future outcome of an illness; the greater the DUP, poorer the outcome and vice versa.

The general consideration of the psychiatric consultation as a last resort or option results in longer DUP parallel with the lots of expectations on behalf of family and emphasis on rapid recovery makes the simple and resoluble cases as challenging one. It leads to extensive loss of functionality and increases the disease and care burden of the society.

Through the extensive themes of education, the mental health importance and the significance of healthy lifestyle modifications can be emphasized.


The culture of positive behaviors and thoughts can be encouraged by highlighting its beneficial effects on the human body. The sole focus to highlight the “disease understanding” without the possible, accessible and available resources have catastrophizing consequences. It is like enabling people to be mindful of their problems without offering them a solution.


The need of supportive behaviors and understanding of an illness reduce the effect of stigma and help in maintaining activities of daily living. Thus, it is incumbent on every psychiatrist not only to involve family into the psycho-educational programs regarding mental health. It would definitely need an extra mile of effort, time and dedication to propagate the understanding of the mental illness through various means; simplifying the messages can also proliferate the understanding. Different kind of mediums can be used for making the information accessible by evading the taboo of the early psychiatric consultation.



In a fit of despair, I closed her medical record file and looked out of my office window…

In the suburb of posh streets and houses where fully wrapped (burqa-clad) women were crossing streets, buying fruits from the vendor-persons, walking in parks with children. Some with open faces and others with a horizontal slit letting their eyes to see the world. In a bustle of transport services like buses, rickshaws and cars, (bearded) men were passing through, keeping their wrapped wives (/sisters) at a “significant distance” from others. A disheveled man with a prayer cap on his head in a midst of crowd, noise and smoke touched a girl passing from his side.

She got terrified; he touched her hips; lecherously looking at her body. No one saw this and the girl sped up her pace to get out from the area. Man kept watching her with a wide grin on his face, triumphantly!

She was not sure it was a deliberate attempt or a coincidence but his grin was more pronounced to let her know about the possibility of a former thought. She was asked by her mother to keep silent, not to share this with anyone in a family and also advised to take alternative route next time.

“Mama…!” she yelled.

“What?” Mama came from the kitchen in disarray.

“You know what! Bhaiyya [brother] is watching dirty scenes on a TV, I have just seen this”.

In a second she felt hot smash on her cheeks. Mama slapped her hardly.

“I have told you several times not to go to his room, still you try to get there, how should I restrict you?”


This response was quite appalling for her. She started thinking “Is this my mistake to go to brother’s room to give him tea if he asks for it! Is it my mistake to pinpoint brother if he is wrong?”

Mother tightly covered her head with a scarf and leaned on her slightly, to look into her eyes, “You must sit opposite to Qari Sahib (Reciter) and only brother would sit with him. OK?” I nodded my head.

“And if he asks you to come close or touch you anywhere then you must call me”.

It was a dark night and somebody has pushed her hard. She fell on a ground, someone was crying, she immediately got up and turned on the lights. Her cousin was crying and gasping. She took her into arms and tried to console when her cousin threw her away; shouted vehemently “It was your brother. He is a rascal!”

She always had a hard time in understanding why her khala (aunt) stopped talking to her mother since that day. On asking, mother has always told her about cousin’s stories of harboring multiple affairs of sexual nature at college and in neighborhood area. They have never visited us since then.

She knows her cousin must be the bad girl as mother tells her.