Masturbation superhighway leads Guys and Girls Straight to Hell

"Girl looking at her-phone"

By Dr. Asir Ajmal

They boy was sixteen. He looked upset, dark circles around his eyes bore witness to many a sleepless night in front of his laptop. He hesitated a bit, uneasy in his seat, and then confessed. “I am a sinner. I commit the sin every day and then repent. Everyday I promise Allah that I won’t do it again. But I am not strong enough. I switch on the laptop and there I go again.” This was a few years ago. More recently, the culprit is not the computer, but the mobile phone and the teenagers, boys and girls are caught up in an addiction to viewing sexually explicit material on ther phones followed by masturbation.

This story is so common in Pakistan that every therapist reading it can relate. They must have seen tens of such clients if not more. And the problem is invariably giving into the carnal sin, but this sin, as one boy put it, is self-abuse.

It is not guilt alone that causes the distress. An incredible amount of pain is caused by the erroneous belief that somehow the act of masturbation is causing their bodies to erode from within, sapping all their strength. The idea that they would not only burn in hell in the afterlife, because they have sinned, but that their health is also being ruined in this world, is ironically responsible for ruining their mental health.

These erroneous and misinformed beliefs cause so much misery that these boys over time end up with extreme anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms.

Boy with phone

The problem is that even among psychologists in Pakistan, there is no consensus on the issue, let alone among parents, teachers, priests or doctors. I once attended a workshop where the psychologist suggested removing the door from the boy’s bedroom and depriving him of privacy in order to prevent the “vice of self-abuse”. She even suggested that the boy be made to put on boxing gloves to keep his hands away from mischief.

I was shocked and when I complained to a senior psychologist, who incidentally was a Freudian– I expected him to understand– he said he didn’t agree with me that masturbation was a harmless act. After all, was it not Freud who had said that masturbation weakens the personality and causes neurasthenia?

ISLAM DOES NOT FORBID IT.

On the issue of Islam, I found many religious sources that declared masturbation as not sinful. Some even argued that masturbation was a protection against fornication and adultery, and was therefore certainly not a sin, if not a virtue.

GIRLS ALSO SUFFER FROM GUILT & MISCONCEPTIONS

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When an earlier version of this article was first published, a woman, also a clinical psychologist, commented that in her view it was a harmful act not only for boys and men, but also for women. She thought that girls experience infertility and other gynecological complications because of masturbation.

There is absolutely no basis to such claims. Also from am an Islamic point of view, one can see how if the logic of prevention of adultery applies to men, it can be applied to women also.

SEX EDUCATION IS NEEDED EVEN FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS

I educate such clients about the harmlessness of masturbation both in physical as well as religious sense. Educating young men about sex and masturbation is something most Pakistani psychologist have to do at some point in their careers. I wonder if psychologists understand their responsibility to first educate themselves about sex and sex education. It will do them, their partners, and their clients some good.

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Time to create a New Social Democratic Alternative By Imtiaz Alam

Social Democratic Alternative (SDA)
(Draft For Discussion)

By Imtiaz Alam
Left and progressive parties, enlightened citizens, conscientious intelligentsia and working people feel the need to evolve an interactive political network to develop an alternative social democratic platform to bring real social change in society and the state for the betterment of the working people, urban and rural poor and small and midsized entrepreneurs, from all federating units and of all nationalities of Pakistan.

Given the predominance of an extremist religious and militarist paradigm, it is time to come up with a progressive worldview to defend the rights and freedoms of our people and strive to extricate our country from its current predicaments. The proposed inclusive and broad-based platform of leftists, socialists, social democrats, progressive nationalists, feminists and environmentalists-– their parties and activists – will strive to present an alternative social democratic narrative as opposed to dominant extremist religious discourse.

The purpose is to change an anti-people status quo through peaceful democratic struggle and enlightened narrative. The Social Democratic Alternative will be a democratic, secular, federalist, inclusive, voluntary and self-sustaining collective with no hierarchical structures. It will solely rely on its own resources and peoples’ mobilization for a dynamic progressive change and social emancipation of our toiling masses.

Principal Concerns:
There are physical and psychological threats from terrorism and extremism to the working people, religious and ethnic minorities, women and children. And there are ideological threats to human progress, equality, justice, liberal-democratic values, the rule of law and science. These threats undermine progress, the welfare of the people, federalism, democracy and an inclusive and pluralistic nationhood.

The Pakistani state is a national security state with dominant security structures. It is over-burdening to the economy and unsustainable. Aggressive national security agendas, couched in an isolationist foreign policy, are perpetuating hostility with neighbors and playing to the tunes of various foreign masters as a client state.
Neo-classical and neo-liberal economic models (accumulation of wealth in a few hands at the cost of the working people and professional strata, an exclusionary elitist development model, imperatives of an over-extended national security state and an inverted pyramid of economic growth) have resulted in endemic poverty, malnourishment, illiteracy, lack of access to healthcare, unemployment, social inequality and unequal regional development.

Authoritarian, centralized and alienated nation-building, in the name of Islam and identifying with an alien history, while suppressing and excluding constituent federating units/nationalities, their cultures, languages and identities rooted in historically defined regions have prevented effective devolution of power to the grassroots level.

Democracy is fragile, civil-military relations are inverted and there is intolerance, intervention of state in matters of faith, the persecution of minorities, gender discrimination and unsustainable and exclusionary growth. There are laws, authoritarian structures, feudal and patriarchal customs/traditions/codes and bigotry that negate fundamental human rights, civil liberties, pluralism, tolerance and liberal-democratic values.

The current political economy of resource generation (taxes and other revenues) and allocation of resources favor the privileged while ignoring peoples’ needs of nutrition, education, health and a humane quality of life. The development of human resources, much-needed physical infrastructure for all regions, environmental protection, conservation of resources and population planning are being neglected. Unbridled profit making and rent-seeking override needs-based, participatory and sustainable growth, to the disadvantage of the working masses.

The low quality of life of the majority of the population emanates from mass poverty, illiteracy and the lack of basic healthcare, primary and secondary education, clean drinking water, sanitation and suitable housing.

Global warming is now posing a serious threat to mother earth and is having is worst implications in South and Central Asia.

The fine arts, performing arts, indigenous cultures and languages are suppressed. Syllabi and the humanities are distorted and the education system has degenerated, in both public and private spheres, most so of madaris.

An extremist religious ideology and militant nationalism dominate the national narrative and promote violence, intolerance, hate-speech and discrimination against minorities, women and cross-gender communities.

The prevalence of patriarchal, tribal and feudal traditions, customs, especially honor codes that cause countless miseries to women, while denying their rights as equal human beings.

Remnants of feudalism, landlordism and archaic structures of extra-economic coercion not only continue to strangulate masses of rural poor, but also holding back our march towards modernization and social emancipation.

There is lack of mutually beneficial cooperation and connectivity among the South Asian and Central Asian countries.
There is a general decline and suppression of trade union activities and the role of professional associations disabling them from pursuing their legitimate rights.
An Agenda for Social-Democratic Change
To separating religion from the state and turning a national security state into a social welfare state that is at peace internally and with its neighbours.

To transforming Pakistan into a social-democratic state with the assertion of the sovereignty of the people through participatory democracy and proportionate representative and electoral system on the basis of class stratification to establisg a sound social base for a sustainable democracy. All institutions of the state are to be responsible and accountable to the peoples and their elected legislatures at all levels, including the federating units and local governments.

Deepening and consolidating provincial autonomy by strengthening cooperative federation and consolidating and expanding the scope of 18th Amendment. Equal power to a directly elected Senate and greater role of federal institutions representing all federating units, such as the Council of Common Interest, National Finance Commission, National Executive Committee, IRSA, Wapda, Railways, PIA, Communication, OGDC, OGRA, PEMRA, HEC, etc.

Empower people through the devolution of power to village and town cooperatives and community-based social entities, on the basis of municipal socialism.
Pursue a participatory, inclusive and sustainable mode of growth that includes the working people, professionals and the middle strata into the accumulation process that gives priority to the peoples’ needs rather than the dominant elites and their growing wealth.

It must address the political economy of resource generation from the rich, excessive and non-development defense expenditures and wasteful consumptions and the reallocation of resources to address unemployment, underemployment, poverty, illiteracy, diseases, marginal wages and underdevelopment of backward regions.

Greater priority is to be given to job creation, better wages, literacy, healthcare, food security, women empowerment, alleviation of the sufferings of the dispossessed and eradication of poverty. Extra-economic coercion, the widening income gap between genders, classes and various regions/provinces is to be effectively and comprehensively addressed in a wholistic manner.

There is a need to defend and uphold equal rights and equal protection for all citizens, regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity, caste and color.

Preserving and conserving our natural resources and the environment: improving and conserving water resources, expanding renewable energy, controlling environmental pollution and addressing the imminent danger of climate change and our ever-growing carbon footprint.

Focusing on human resource development and the required level of evenly spread physical infrastructures.

Modernization, reformation and democratization of all state structures to make them people-friendly, cost-effective, efficient, transparent and accountable; creation of a Federal Constitutional Court; reformation of civil services to make them specialized and peoples’ friendly, police reforms to serve the people; territorial based peoples armed forces to ensure sovereignty, integrity and security of borders.

Eradicate systemic corruption, rent-seeking, bribery, commissions, land grabbing and pilferage of national resources and entitlements for the rich and the powerful elites. Create an across-the-board accountability system that doesn’t spare any sacred cows and pursues a due process of law.

Eradicate all feudal estates, feudal practices by introducing wider agrarian reforms, which ensure an end to feudal exploitation, extra-economic coercion, landlessness, pauperization and unleash the potential of our rural masses to make a better living free of all bondages.

Promote peace, amity and mutually beneficial cooperation and strengthening connectivity and increasing trade with our neighbors and across the regions – South Asia and Central Asia in particular.

Adopt a foreign policy based on “Friendship with All and Enmity with None” and opposing imperialist interventions, wars and subjugation of developing nations.
Support an end to nuclear weapons and the global arms race. Ensure nuclear stability in Asia while opposing war, subliminal warfare and proxy wars.

Support rights-based campaigns; movements of working people, the poor, the disenfranchised and oppressed nationalities/ethnic groups and campaigns for women’s and minorities’ rights for equality and social justice.

Participate in political, legal, constitutional and legislative processes to strengthen democracy, federalism, social rights and equal participation of all. Promote socialism, enlightenment, freedom, secularism, equality, justice and social emancipation and gender equality.
Benefiting from information and scientific and technological revolution and promoting knowledge economy to bridge the wealth and knowledge gaps and empower people.

What is To be Done?
Social Democratic Alternative (SDA) is to be a broader inclusive coalition of working masses, progressive professionals and enlightened intellectuals, left and left-oriented parties, progressive nationalists, socialists, social democrats and all those, who share SDA’s Concerns and Agenda as outlined above.

SDA’s principal purpose is to educate, mobilize and organize the masses of working people and progressive professionals and enlightened intelligentsia to bring societal change and radical transformation of state and its institutions to serve the peoples of Pakistan.

Promote research through dynamic and inter-disciplinary efforts, where it is needed, and benefiting from the research that has already been done to serve the interests and needs of our people and their fullest and all-sided growth.

SDA will engage peoples’ representatives, mainstream democratic and nationalist parties, leftist and socialist parties, trade and professional unions, progressive political activists, civil society campaigners, women activists, academia, researchers, students, youth, writers, media practitioners and artists, and lobby with major stakeholders to pursue its agenda.

SDA will use all intellectual avenues, literary and cultural forums, media, social media, seminars and peoples campaigns to cultivate an all-embracing commitment to an enlightened, secular, social-democratic, federalist and peaceful Pakistan for an all-sided empowerment of all its peoples without any social, cultural, religious, ethnic and gender discrimination.

SDA will adopt a two-way approach; starting from both local and provincial levels to representation at the federal level, while promoting a collective leadership.
SDA will facilitate and benefit from various think tanks, research groups, lobbyist groups and campaign groups for the rights of the people and support all those organizations and activists who are pursuing similar agendas.

SDA will help organize and untie trade unions, students organizations, professional bodies, rights-based groups, civil society organizations, women’s bodies and intellectual and cultural forums and join various mass campaigns for the rights of the people and the oppressed.

SDA is a broad-based, inclusive, social-democratic and plural platform with no hierarchical structures. It will have consultative mechanisms at various tiers to run its affairs with a Spokesman/Coordinator responsible to the relevant tier of the organization. It will generate its own sources and rely on the support of the people and its partner organizations.

#Pakistan #humanrights #empowerment

Reverse Diabetes Today, this very moment: 10 Ways To Quickly Stop it from forever messing up everything, immediately returning to health & feeling young again

When I picked up Patrick Holford’s book on preventing and reversing diabetes, I could not believe my eyes. Here was an English nurse practitioner advocating a combination of exercise, diet, multivitamins and minerals as a cure for diabetes. He was violently opposed to the use of insulin, which he said, along with blood sugar, causes havoc in the system.

I have been struggling with diabetes for a while. This was worth a try for several reasons. For one, I was already trying to control my sugar levels using diet. It was partially under control, but not consistently. A little bit of excess, and whoops, there goes blood sugar control.

Now was the time to give it a solid try. So I started to follow Holford’s revolutionary method. Having now used it over several months consistently (with the inconsistent factor being exercise), I can safely say that it was successful.

I did, of course, add my own bits to the method, so I cant give the entire credit to Holford. But yes, it was his idea. This mother of all diseases can be reveresed, can be cured. When I wrote my first article on Holford’s method, I wasn’t sure. So I wrote a brief piece talking about my attempt.

Now given the overwhelming evidence of its effectiveness, I tell you how I did it. My own formula is a 10 point list as follows:

  1. Meditation, regular spiritual practice of some kind such as Dhikr, Prayers, Meditation
  2. Breathing from the Heart, imagine your chest has a nose/hole in the center and breathe through that nose/hole.
  3. Chromium 500, two to three tablets a day after meals, adjust your dose with time.
  4. Cinnamon, powdered, one teaspoon per day (add to porridge). I now take the cinnamon tablet which is more convenient.
  5. Porridge for breakfast, veggies, chicken and fruits for lunch and dinner, nuts, ocra, spinach, citrus, papaya and follow a good balanced diet, but keep food delicious, don’t boil your veggies
  6. Multivitamins, in large doses, e.g.; 4 tablets of Revitale per day or two tablets of GNC’s Mega Men/ Women
  7. Cod Liver oil, at least one capsule daily
  8. Vitamin C, 2,000 mg daily plus Vitamin D3
  9. Vitamin E 100, one capsule per day
  10. Regular exercise (keep trying to be consistent, never give up)

It really works, even if you are not exercising daily, the benefits are too clear. And I eat everything, in moderation of course. I love mangoes and regularly eat some dessert after meals in smallish quantities though.

I assure you one can start to see results quickly. Test regularly, at least once a day, at different times each time. Once you get this beast under control, talk your doctor into reducing your medication. You might be able to get rid of it forever. Good luck. And consult your doctor regularly and keep him informed, in fact do it under his supervision (My doctor never let me, so I did it anyway. You might be luckier 🙂 )

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ADHD: Is a Generation of Naughty Boys Currently at Risk of Being Quickly Turned into Young Ritalin Junkies?

BAD TEACHING = HYPERACTIVE KIDS

I met Dr. Sami Timimi in Lincoln, England in the autumn of 2001. He was a psychiatrist working in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). I was doing my child placement there towards a Statement of Equivalence in Clinical Psychology.Dr. Timimi was a controversial man. My placement supervisor Pete Ludlow had told me that Dr. Timimi did not believe that ADHD was a psychiatric disorder but a behavioral condition.

Timimi was, therefore, opposed to medication, which he considered tantamount to poisoning children without delivering any sustainable benefits. In Ludlow’s view, Dr. Timimi’s vocal opposition to medication was creating hurdles in the way of appropriate treatment. Pete thought that advising parents against the use of medication did more harm than good and that children were unnecessarily being deprived of “evidence-based” treatment.

ADHD DIAGNOSIS MAKES KIDS INTO RITALIN JUNKIES

What was the evidence base that Ludlow was talking about? Well, the most common treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is stimulant medication such as Ritalin. Many psychiatrists recommend combining medication with individual counseling and family therapy. Some studies also claim that ADHD has a neurological basis but the evidence is mixed at best.

I decided to approach Dr. Timimi for a clarification. Why did he not accept the ‘neurological evidence’ or the evidence base for effectiveness of stimulants. He was kind enough to answer all my questions and also gave me a free copy of his book ‘Naughty Boys.’

Let me summarize his arguments: The Western culture is a hyper-masculine culture where mothers are blamed for children’s behavior problems. Many mothers are single parents and a majority of teachers are also women. This places a double burden of blame and shame on women, who are relieved when the blame for the boys’ misbehavior is shifted from them to the boys’ brains.

In pre-modern societies, according to Dr. Timimi, boys’ rowdy behavior was dealt with by the fathers with a firm hand. ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ was the motto of the public school headmaster who enforced discipline through an elaborate system of punishments including corporal punishment.

“Are you advocating a return to physical punishment?” was the logical follow up question to which he replied with an emphatic no. Instead he suggests the following:

-Dietary Interventions

-Family Time

-Fresh Air and Exercise

-Limiting time spent on TV and computer games

-Bedtime routines

-Chores

-Responsibilities, trust and independence

-Emotional Support.

A detailed account of these interventions can be found in his book Misunderstanding ADHD: the complete guide for parents to alternatives to drugs. One may not fully agree with him, but I did finally understand where he was coming from.

ADHD IS NOT A REAL DISORDER

Five years later when I moved to Pakistan, I heard an even more stunning statistic. A survey of school teachers done by the GCU Clinical Psychology department had revealed that nearly 60 percent of the children were considered as having ADHD by the teachers.

It was in 2006, that the Clinical Psychology Unit at GC University Lahore under the leadership of Dr. Zahid Mahmood, conducted a survey of teachers to find out if they thought they had any children with ADHD in their classrooms. The results were shocking.

The teachers reported a very large number, 60 percent, of their students as having symptoms of ADHD. I asked Dr. Mahmood why he thought he got such a result. “They must be filling the forms wrong”, he said but wasn’t sure what had gone wrong.

This led me to reflect on Sami Timimi’s challenge to the notion of ADHD as a neurological/psychiatric disorder. Perhaps the teachers are unable to manage these children well and their incompetence is manifesting itself in over-diagnosis.

In order to understand this argument one needs to know the context in which teaching-learning takes place in Pakistan. Most teachers in the private sector are untrained and are recruited solely based on their ability to speak English fluently. The training given to public school teachers is also of a very low quality and leaves much to be desired.

I came up with a hypothesis: The quality of teaching, lesson planning, and classroom management skills of a teacher are inversely proportional to the number of children identified as having ADHD by the teacher in the classroom. And soon I got the opportunity to test it.

Maria Fatima, a graduate student expressed an interest in doing her M. Phil Thesis on ADHD. I suggested she observe teachers in classrooms and rate them on their teaching skills, lesson planning and classroom management skills. She would then have them fill out Conner’s Teacher Rating Scale for children they suspect as having ADHD.

The results were as I had expected. Bad teaching, lack of planning, and poor classroom management meant out of control children. And since that is the norm rather than the exception, a large number of children are diagnosed with ADHD based on teacher’s report of their behavior.

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Training with Mind Games: We Train your Staff to be Happy & Engaged and You Get Great Results

Dr. Asir Ajmal

I was training a group of professionals from a multinational corporation on communication skills when I made an astonishing discovery: Most people with engineering or business degrees knew nothing about how their minds worked. They all thought that we psychologists have some thing to do with “treating people with mental problems” but not much else.

When I gave them the personal SWOT task, in which they had to identify their own personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, there were many who had never thought about their weaknesses, and some who had never considered more than two or three strengths, NEVER!

An engineer got up and admitted that he was finding it very hard to identify three weaknesses in himself. And while I was trying to hide my sense of shock and amazement, several people nodded and affirmed that the task was also difficult for them.

This was quite shocking!!!

But this is not just about knowledge of psychology, the discipline, it is about self-awareness. This awareness of oneself does have a great deal to do with self-knowledge. So what does one do about it?

I went home and thought about this problem long and hard, and eureka, I had discovered the answer. I was going to provide training to professionals with a science and/or business background focusing on self-awareness and  psychological issues. On top of the list was the following question:

How can training help me manage my emotions?

On the surface, it may sound like a simple question. In reality, this question is something humanity has struggled with since the dawn of civilization. Be it sadness, anger, hostility, fear, or even positive emotions such as joy, ecstasy or excitement, history is witness to the fact that not a lot of people have been successful to find the right balance. The above question is also asked in a different manner albeit in a positive tone?

How can training make me happy?

Happiness is the gold that the alchemists of yore sought to produce. Happiness is what we seek on a daily basis and it seems to elude the very best and the most successful among us. For we seek it not in ourselves but in the outside world. We will discuss this question further in my future blogs but for now suffices to say that the modern science of positive psychology has taken a page out of traditional sciences and dug up treasures hidden inside the human soul.

How do I control my anger?

If one factor could be blamed for ruining the majority of human relationships, it would be anger. Be it father and son, husband and wife, mother and daughter, brother and sister, or the relationship between two best friends, the emotion that sabotages the closest of relationships more than any other is anger.

Does my mind affect my body?

While I am skeptical of pseudo-scientific theories like the law of attraction, the secret etc., there is something to be said for the effects our thoughts and mental processes have on our bodies. Many professionals in South Asia do not take seriously the concept of psychosomatic illness and constantly search for the hidden ailment that is eating them alive, usually without success.

There are many such questions that psychologists are working on finding the answers to. We have found a great many answers and many of these reside in the traditional texts of ancient religions and spiritual practices. And at the same time, modern science has helped us discover new phenomena.

With this blog, I hope to supplement my training workshops and reach a much larger audience. I hope this helps people learn more about themselves and thereby improve their quality of life. It will enable them to be happy and the organizations they work for will get engaged employees yielding great results.

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