Yet another case of mental health and the psychoanalyst is planning intervention.
The Worried Imam
Tony had another session with Farook staring at him in his diary. He was not familiar with the ways and culture of Islam but he new mental health had universality about it. It was not like an influenza epidemic. Coming abruptly then disappearing. It was more selective. It permeated life from an early age increasing by age often rejecting the help it cried out for from guilty and shy patients. Farook was one such example. But so too were those in the isolated professional professions and clerics had begun to surface from his clients as a group in particular need of treatment.
Tony put his pen behind his ear when his secretary announced Farook’s arrival. He came in like a sheep eyeing the collie. He was offered a seat. The inevitable open question began the session.
‘So how have you been Farook?’
Farook’s eyes gave more information than his voice. They were downcast, deep in thought as how to respond. When he did, it was not a particularly unusual disclosure he heard.
‘I've been having a recurring dream.’
‘A daytime or night-time dream?’
‘Both. It happens a lot. It’s about a thick wall. It’s in front of me. I can’t see over and I can’t break it down.’
‘And you want to destroy it?’
‘I don’t know. I want to see over but I can’t. If it means breaking it then that’s what I’ll do but the dream does not let me.’
Tony began to take a note of what he was being told. His pad showed not a narrative but a picture, a drawing of the dream.
‘And tell me does the wall have an end? Can you get around it that way?’
‘No, I can’t see the end of the wall. It bends round out of sight. I can never reach its end, if it has one.’
‘What do you think is behind the wall?
Farook found the question as hard as any theological riddle.
‘I think I’d see a garden with many people walking round smelling the sweet scent of flowers and talking, yes talking. Too hard to hear what they are saying but talking sometimes about me, I’m sure. There is a group of Muslims at the entrance on the other side.’
‘Tell me Farook, pretend you are the wall. What would you feel and see?’
Farook’s posture changed. He looked away but not out of the window. It seemed he had created a wall beside him.
‘The wall is strong. It has firm foundations. But is it protecting me from the other side .......or the other side from me? I don’t know but it’s a broad wall. I could even walk on it.’
‘And what’s the wall made of Farook?’
Farook pursed his lips as if to ask if it matters to him.
‘It’s solid. Solid stone. It’s an old wall.’
‘Now, try to imagine you are inside the garden. What are you doing?
This question was tricky for Farook. Their faces were not clear. Had Tony got to the crux of the dream or what could he possibly deduce from all he had told him so far? Farook struggled to reply. His hands were tight together, his knuckles grew whiter deprived of a steady flow of blood. His knuckles clicked. He jerked.
‘I don’t like being inside the garden,’ was all Farook could muster. A few seconds passed in silence. The room stood still. The crying of a seagull outside was all Farook could hear. He wished he could be that bird.
‘Inside the wall...’ continued Tony.
Farook took out his handkerchief. He wiped his perspiring brow.
‘They are chasing me. They have angry faces....’
‘The Mosque members?’
Farook simply nodded.
Tony went over to his coffee machine and offered Farook a cup.
‘Tea please, thanks,’
‘So you are not attending the mosque as often?’
‘No, not at all for the time being.’
‘No Imam. No prayers?’
‘Oh no, many can step in for me. It is as if I am ill, you see.’
‘And are you?’
‘To them I am...and...I suppose I am too.’
‘I feel I can’t cope. Maybe something is going to happen and I feel I am the cause. So I avoid them. I go for walks. I dress in a western fashion.’
‘That’s the thoughts and behaviours you are telling me. What about your feelings, Farook?’
Feelings, he pondered. A moment of reflection was required to move on from his heart felt thoughts and behaviours.
‘Feelings...well.. anxious I think... perhaps fearful.’
‘And is that comfortable? I mean, can you cope with these feelings?
‘No you don’t understand my culture. No matter what good or bad befalls a Muslim person, it is the Will of God, Insh Allah.’
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|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|Although I've taken courses in psychology and tend to know all the general terms applied to various mental illnesses and their symptoms, I'm fine psychology a rather odd study and don't dwell on it much. It seems that some psychological disorders are genetic and some are caused by trauma, often in childhood. Most of these disorders are treated today with drugs. Drugs don't seem to change the disorder, just reduce the symptoms.
On the other hand, all those that have a very strong belief in most of the religions of the world, have a psychological disorder, or fixation, on unreality. ;-)
Miller H Caldwell