miércoles, 17 de febrero de 2016

My dissertation has no title: The struggle is real!!!

This year have been some changes with our Master's dissertation . Due to this changes I can not submit my dissertation about Fair trade (I already did I Research Proposal on the subject that I submitted), and need to think of a new topic for my dissertation. 

So, for all those advising me to consider working on a topic related to the Balkans, I have a great news for you - I AM DOING THE BALKANS!!!!

I have 3 days to think on my dissertation title.

This is Research in International Development or Research in Social Science. 

I need your suggestions what do you consider important and needs a "scientific" consideration.

So, let me suggest few:

- We know how homosexuals are treated in Macedonia or Balkan in general. Do you want me to research and shame you on this subject? 

ЛГБТИ Центар @LgbtiCentar Центар за јакнење на ЛГБТИ заедницата во Македонија

- Gender based violence. 

- Work on corruption. It would be difficult for me to do this as not that just the politicians, but the whole society is corrupted. 

- Youth unemployment, suicide and delinquency. This can be really revealing and useful for all of us personally and for the region in general. 

- Corporate social ir(responsibility). We can go after the textile factories and how they mistreat their employees. 

- Tabaco Industry. Does really helps the people to get out of poverty when there is no other way. 
Drying Tobacco in Prilep, Macedonia

If you are interested in collaboration or simply the topic is something that really calls your interest, you can be my assistants and at the end, as a toque of my appreciation to receive the final document (at the end of this year) and a small present for your effort and collaboration. 

And why not, It can be an idea for your own NGO to try to help people and raise awareness in Macedonia.

The fact is that I am very excited about my dissertation, although it was highly recommended that  we should not work on the same topic we did previously. I love, I absolutely adore my course and would accept any challenge.  

The recommendation was a surprise, but not a disappointment by any mean. Intermediately started thinking on a new topic and how exciting is going to be to explore, learn and manage  information that I haven't had the chance to do before and come up with new and reinforce old ideas and ways to make this planet better.

As for my University goes, changes are more than needed and I will support and welcome anything done differently than previous years. It will take time, but hard work really pays off. 

After all it's my University, not the best in UK, just mine. It matters to me, and won't change it for any better one.  

As a passionate searcher and researcher, never and nothing is good enough for me. Always looking for more and better. 

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2016

Mental Health and the developing world: being different is never a good sign

Throughout the history mental illness has been related to witchcraft. In some cultures, some individuals may be seen as gifted person that "sees things that others can't". In fact, they are just people with mental health problems (possible personality disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia etc just to name few) and not a "gift" or demonic procession by any means. It's rather a "curse" that needs to be treated. 

Another thing to note is that how often those people are seen as "hard to handle" and just pushed aside, left out as "difficult". 

Many people around you might be struggling with a mental health issue and you might think they are just vile, stupid, arrogant, overreacting, sarcastic etc. and avoid them at any cost. It is believed that some people experience those emotions as a response to the emotional pain they feel.

In medieval Europe, when society was dominated by the church the deviant was the witch, the agent of Satan and persecuted by the inquisition. The were seen as heretics that showed "intellectual arrogance be preferring his own opinion to those who were specially qualified to pronounce upon matters of faith" (Szasz, 1997).

In developing societies mental illness are see as a result of a spell cast upon them by the neighbour or other with an "evil eye".

In the Islamic Culture Psychiatric hospitals were not seen as places where the patients receive treatment but as a places for all those mentally ill who were dangerous and out of control. A place for the hopeless whom the family could not manage and were sent to this institutions as a last resort. Mental illnesses are highly stigmatized and it is believed that those people were possessed by a supernatural power, that is sometimes bad and sometimes good. That supernatural power is called jinn (a supernatural spirit that takes form both of human and animal). Mental illness is seen as a punishment of Alah. Nevertheless, prayer and support from the family members is seen as an important method to help the person affected. The under use of the psychiatric facilities today is seen as a fear of stigma and used when the family failed to obtain resolution  through their faith. Seeking help through mental institutions is seen as a rejection of Alah's help.

In Chines culture mental illness is a distortion of the balance, the ideal state of harmony, the  yin and  the yang. Excessive emotions are unexceptionable. Mental illness is a a result of a misconduct of an ancestor and both the family members as the affected can be socially excluded. In rural ares is seen as a punishment from a supernatural spirit. It's considered to be a great personal embarrassment and the person should be kept at home or in mental institution. In the rest of South Asian cultures, mental illness is a source of embarrassment. Families will rather seek help to a healers than professional services. 

In the Indian Culture traditional healers overtake the modern medicine. In the rural areas, where 80% of people live, modern psychiatry is absent. People tend to seek advice to healers, sometimes more than one and fallow the advice of more than one. If the treatment doesn't give the desired results quickly, families lost hope and may abandon their relative. The concept of madness (pagal) is understood as the person talking "nonsense and behaving in a hostile or aggressive manner". (Sartorius et al., 2012).

Being "different" has never been a good sign. This are just few example to illustrate that strong family ties are beneficial for people with mental health issues but not good enough as they may be seen as a obstacle for giving an effective treatment. Those religious and magical views are seen to carry a great moral failure in this societies. People with serious mental illness are a source of huge embarrassment for the families and may find themselves rejected from the family and turn into vagrants, victim of abuse, starvation and violence. (Sartorius et al., 2012)

Even in the mildest form, a mental health issue can be highly stigmatized by the societies today. A diagnose can overwhelm you and find yourself hard to accept it. While talking about mental health issues I find very hard to understand where the personality disorders stand. It seems that they are so difficult to treat that are seen as a different category. They can be self- destructive and perceived as egocentric, ungrateful individuals very difficult to handle, that seek constant attention and care. But still, surprised to know that it's a result of emotional pain they feel. It's not all tears and sobbing.  

Personality disorder are usually not consider to be a mental illness. Still it does harm as it can negative impact on your personal and professional development. It can be a reason for other mental disorders like  depression o anxiety, suicide or para-suicide, alcohol, drug addiction etc. Personality disorders are seen as a risk factors to other mental disorders. (Kendell, 2002)

My personal and modest contribution to the mental health issues in developing countries was to mini research to see similar practice we have in my native country Macedonia. Never believed in popular medicine and healers as they never helped. Their effect might me comforting, soothing  but still there is nothing magical they can do to "cure" you. They themselves might be suffering from worse condition than yours and their "manic" behaviour during their "healing" sessions may scare more than one, especially a person at young age. 

And even in the modern world away from Macedonia the lack to understand your condition it can be disappointing. We all want to be understood and accepted. Most important, we all want to have people believe in us so we can have a reason to try to get better. 

Persons behaviour that falls under or stands out from the rest, has always called for attention, it distorts the balancear, it can be a source of embarrassment and rejection from the society. We are all fighting to fit in, even when you feel you were born to stand out. 


KENDELL, R.E. (2002) ‘The distinction between personality disorder and mental illness’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 180(2), pp. 110–115. doi: 10.1192/bjp.180.2.110.

Naomi, M. (2010) Treating personality disorder: Creating robust services for people with complex mental health needs. Edited by Naomi Murphy and Des McVey. New York, NY: Routledge.

Szasz, T.S.S. (1997) The manufacture of madness: A comparative study of the inquisition and the mental health movement. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. 

Sartorius, N., Stuart, H., Arboleda-Flórez, J., Sartorius, N. and Arboleda-Florez, J. (2012) Paradigms lost: Fighting stigma and the lessons learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.