In Egyptian society there are an estimated 18 million people, or thirty percent, who suffer from psychological ailments. Three million of these have cases of depression, according to Dr. Ahmed Okasha. Many people have serious psychological problems that require proper diagnosis, treatment and perhaps a pharmaceutical remedy to counter a mental imbalance. However, if I was suffering from depression, I would not visit a psychiatrist or psychologist. Personally, I have the preconception that psychologists offer an expensive therapy that’s presented as an easy solution to very difficult mental problems that can weaken one’s ability to live well. And I also believe that psychiatrists aren’t always working in the best interest of their patients, rather that they cater to a plethora of pharmaceutical industries that curry favor with them in various ways.
Psychologists are paid to listen to patients and to try to help them with their problems by talking. Some psychologists work for the government and others operate privately. It is my thinking that the primary motivation of psychologists is to be paid. So, in one way, it does not benefit psychologists to solve their patients’ problems as efficiently as possible. For this first reason I am skeptical about the benefits of sessions with psychologists. Secondly, I don’t see in what ways a psychologist could help me sort out my hypothetically depressed state of mind better than I could. If anything, I would feel more depressed to be in that situation, sitting in their office and complaining about why I cannot function because I feel the world is not worth living. I imagine the response to my criticisms of life or my own ability to live life would be very annoying, because, being in that narrow frame of mind, I would feel like the doctor could not identify with me. If I were to seek help with my life condition, paying money for it would not be alright with me as it is my opinion that there are others who could do a better job helping me – without asking for money in return. I feel that family, local religious leaders and friends are all much better alternatives for having a therapeutic talk.
Psychiatrists are not only paid by their patients but also have been reported to be paid by pharmaceutical companies to push pills. This is particularly true in developing countries where there is little or no regulation of medical practice, prescribing drugs and dispensing drugs. In these countries, the idea of malpractice lawsuits against doctors is absent. Psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies both benefit from these conditions. If a pharmaceutical company wants to make more profit from their products or to popularize a new drug, there is the possibility that developing countries can be exploited for this reason. And because developing countries, such as Egypt, have a shortage of psychiatrists compared to their population afflicted with mental ailments, chances of the general over-prescribing of drugs is higher. It is apparent from the many scandals that have been exposed in connection to this nefarious relationship that psychiatrists are demanding favors from the drug companies that are providing them with the sometimes unnecessary and even potentially harmful drugs they prescribe.
Most people in Egypt, I believe, would feel the same way about depression but some maybe for different reasons. Although there is generally a skepticism I think they share with me, the actual reason most would also not seek psychological therapy for depression is shame. The majority of people here belong to extended families who all rely on each other. So I believe most would not like to feel that they are admitting to a problem in their life. Rather, they would seek help from religious healers, who have a major role in primary psychiatric work here. They deal with minor psychiatric problems through devices such as amulets and incantation rituals. About 60 percent of out-patients at the university clinic in Cairo serving the poor members of the population have consulted a traditional healer before going to see a psychiatrist, according to Dr. Okasha. While most Egyptians are against this type of psychiatric help for fear of shame and economics, I would not seek psychological help because I don’t think it’s the best way of dealing with depression.
“One in every three Egyptians a psychological case, expert says.” Deutsche Press-Agentur. June 6,1997.
Okasha, Ahmed. “Focus on psychiatry in Egypt.” The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2004.
Khan, Murad Moosa. “Murky waters: the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists in developing countries.” Psychiatric Bulletin. 2006.