Photo by @magdarakita
from the project “my liver is bleeding” about mental health and post traumatic stress among the civilian population in afghanistan.
amanullah was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. he became aggressive towards family members, who chained him and later took him to the local mullah who ordered him locked up in a dark room for 40 days. he stills bears scars on his hands following daily whipping by the mullah, using a horsewhip, as part of the ‘treatment’ to scare out the bad ‘jin’ blamed for his behaviour.
estimated 40-60% of afghanistan’s civilian population suffers from post traumatic stress. yet few of those who seek treatment are actually diagnosed with it. symptoms of ptsd, like flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, or being suspicious or afraid to leave the house, are not considered particularly abnormal. what is considered abnormal in a communal society where large families often live under the same roof is for people to withdraw socially, or to suffer angry outbursts. thus, typically, people will be diagnosed with and treated for, major depressive disorder or anxiety.
another reason why ptsd isn’t more commonly diagnosed is that people are often reluctant to burden others with their problems. they have, after all, plenty problems of their own. as a result, people lose fluency in the ability to express themselves emotionally. they might say that their liver is bleeding, to indicate they are sad, or that their throat is tight to tell others they are feeling anxious or afraid.
many tell stories of experiencing conflict first-hand, even within the home environment. many will admit, the underlying cause of so much suffering is often endemic poverty and joblessness.
thank you for the opportunity to share this story here.
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