Where Hyenas Are Used to Treat Mental Illness
Despite the constant whining by people like Glenn Greenwald & the Tea Party about the intolerably oppressive government we Americans supposedly live under, all it takes is one article like this to remind me of how extremely fortunate we are to have been born in a place where situations like the ones in this story are so far from anything we’ve ever experienced as to make them nearly incomprehensible.
Dr Hab’s advert runs up to three times a day on Mogadishu’s radio stations.
“He’s gone crazy! He’s running away!” screams the actor. “Chain him down!”
The scenario is familiar in Somalia. A man has become possessed by spirits and the only option for his family is to restrain him and call the sheikh. But as the young man protests, a voice that challenges Somali tradition booms out. […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services.Dr Hab is not actually a real psychiatrist. Rather it’s the persona of Abdirahman Ali Awale, a nurse who after three months of specialist training from the World Health Organization (WHO), has made it his mission to rescue Somalia’s mentally ill. He claims he is able to treat everything from post-natal depression to schizophrenia.
But the alternative to a trip to Hab could be a visit to one of Somalia’s popular herbalists or sheikhs who still advocate traditional - and sometimes barbaric - cures.
“There is a belief in my country that hyenas can see everything including the evil spirits people think cause mental illness,” says Hab. “So in Mogadishu, you will find hyenas that have been brought from the bush and families will pay £350 ($560) to have their loved one locked in the room overnight with the animal.” […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services. He even carries a letter from the minister of health that says so. […]