Even a Psychologist needs a Psychologist


So why do we persist on resisting treatment?


I went to meet an old friend. Her brother was sitting with his head down on a couch and would not bother to talk to us and exchange greetings. He was in some sort of a deep thought (God knows he might have been resolving the Kashmir dispute). Upon asking my friend what the problem was, she replied, “my brother has been a philosopher for three years and he just thinks and remains alone in his room most of the time”.


We indulged in conversations that had piled up for years. But somehow I started to observe the so-called philosopher and felt that he might be suffering from a mental illness. Upon requesting my friend to take her brother to a psychologist, she started fighting with me that how can her brother be a “psycho”?


And that is not the only example, there are so many others suffering from mental illnesses that go unreported. First, there are not many proper facilities for treating such diseases. Second, lack of awareness about psychological illnesses exists in our society. Third, those who know about psychological illnesses would deny going to a psychologist, considering if they do go to a psychologist, they would be labeled as a psycho. Fourth, we are much more likely to believe in quacks and peers than a legitimate shrink or a therapist, whereas in reality these so-called peers just take the life of innocent people by applying crazy tricks to get the supposed “jin” out of a person. Good Lord!


Now if you look at the specialisation of tasks in the following way that if you break your leg, you are supposed to go to an orthopedic surgeon, If you break your teeth, you are supposed to go to a dentist. Then why do people feel such reluctance in consulting psychologists in case of any mental problem – neurotic or psychotic – and subsequently get appropriate treatment? A further case in point is that if the tire of your bicycle bursts out, would you take it to a peer or a cycle mechanic? All of these points merit some consideration pertinent to the dire need of resetting our priorities and preferences.


For small viruses such as cold, flu, allergy and headache, people do not wait even a second to reach a doctor and start taking medicines. Why do people linger on when they are suffering from anxiety, phobia, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder?


According to World Health Organisation, around 15 million people are suffering from mental illnesses in Pakistan. A large part of the society is in depression due to changed circumstances in the country. The worst part is that there is hardly any counseling or psychological treatment center in small cities. I usually get a message from people living in small cities that they need help for their daily-life mental problems from a psychologist and unfortunately there is no such center in their city and neither can they travel to the big cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.


I am an organisational psychologist and I conduct interviews at the time of selection. I have found that even those of the candidates who are aware of their problems – emotional breakdown due to break-ups, mental stresses, family conflicts, phobia, depression or anxiety – are not ready to consult a psychologist and they would only hope that they would be just fine with time. I think even if they get better, it takes a lot of time and in the meanwhile it directly or indirectly affects their work, friends or family. Most people think that anger problems or frustrations do not affect anyone else but themselves. In reality, it does affect others as much as it is likely to affect an ailing individual because we live in a communal society and are connected to each other in one way or the other which is an indispensable connection by all means.


Government needs to pay attention to opening counseling centers for psychological treatments; in large as well as in small cities, creating an accessible network across the country. People also need to come out of their besieged mentality that they would be stigmatised or ostracised in the society if they consult a psychologist. People should stop making fun of those who need psychological help. Even a psychologist needs a psychologist. It is completely healthy and normal to seek help for your mental well-being.


Psychologists carry a huge baggage known as stereotype. If someone does muster up the courage to start seeing us, they are highly frowned upon. They are called names such as lunatic, psycho or crazy. And we all know how highly every Pakistani thinks about what the society says and demands from them. And why would you even wait to be mentally ill and when you are on a brink of collapse from stress to consult a psychologist? Start seeing a therapist before such situation arises. In developed countries such as UK, America and Canada, it is becoming commonplace to have a personal therapist or regularly visit a psychologist for taking care of one’s mental well-being or at least for catharsis. We Pakistanis also need to get over our own mental inhibitions for the mentally ill, for which all one can hope for is this to happen soon for the sake of making Pakistan a mentally healthy, happy and more productive society. The alternatives are far too grim to contemplate.


  1. Great piece of writing !
    I would appreciate if u write something on “anger control ” and “hatred “which is a common mental problem in Pakistan.

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