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Page 1: Arab youth identity crises or mental illness

Yasmine BuraikPsychiatric Counselor

Page 2: Arab youth identity crises or mental illness

"This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease." - Robert Kennedy

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Rana . Age 22. Educ: College. Dx: BAD. Orientation: Undecided.

“ I have decided I will run away from my parent’s house until I can leave the country. I can’t do anything. I went to volunteer the other day; like learn to paint houses and fix things, real volunteer work: helping people help themselves, my dad saw a girl go out with an Abaya but no head cover, he started shouting “these are the people you want to hang out with”. Hello!!! I am fully covered!. I want to go to toastmasters, I want to learn things, NO! NO! NO! it is mixed and you can’t go. He even told me I can’t go out of the house without my 13 year old brother because he has to learn to be a man! I said ‘you want him to be a man at my expense?’ he said with this attitude no man will marry you!”

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Nabeel. Age 20. Educ: college. Dx: BAD. Orientation: Open-mineded

“ Sometimes I can’t take it anymore; the way people think. I had to change my isle seat because I was sitting next to a woman. Biggest sin to sit next to a woman. My cousin, who is my best friend, can’t go out to a restaurant with me anymore because I am a guy. My friends in the US are very happy, they live a normal life. There is no place for us in society. I just have to leave, I can’t live here, I can’t be what I want to be”.

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Dalal. Age: 17. Educ: 11th grade. Dx: Gender Identity?. Orientation: Normal.

“ I want to be a boy. Boys have more privileges. They have no curfews, they can go and come as they want. They are just more free. I just want to go with my friends without being chaperoned, I don’t want to wear this (Abaya) and this (Headscarf). I would be happy if I could wear a shoulder abaya, my cousins do, but my mom won’t let me”.

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Amal. Age: 20. College. Dx: Panic Attack. Orientation: Religious.

“ I am active and like to participate in event at my college. You know mixed colleges here is a new thing, people are not used to it. Sometimes I have to work with the male students. I act very appropriately, like talk a little or joke a little. The others talk about me badly, that I have no shame. Several guys from my hometown came up to me and told me they want to protect me because I am a girl from their town. I feel now everyone is looking at me all the time and gossiping about me. I will keep doing what I do because I am not doing anything wrong. I just want to do useful things, I have ambitions ”.

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Reem: 19. 1st year college. Dx: Self-injury. Orientation: Liberal

“ I am a free spirit, I don’t agree with the culture. I don’t agree with the separation of the sexes, why can’t I sit with my male cousins?. I don’t like the inequality of the sexes, this whole thing of men being superior to women. I want my freedom, my rights, my privileges, I want to be in control. I am tired of being a perfect girl: stay at home, don’t go out, be dedicated to your family and the happiness of your parents, take care of everyone. I feel I am a project of “a housewife in training”. I have my own ambitions. I have to leave here”.

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Galeel. Age: 25. Employee. Dx: OCD. Orientation: Suspended.

“ I have shaved most of my beard. I retain a little because of my people. I am breaking free from chains. All chains. What’s wrong with me sitting and talking with you? What is wrong with working with women?. They lied to us about everything. They made everything a sin. I am questioning everything now, I am not sure of anything, do you understand: anything!. I need to find out the truth myself, I need to examine everything they told us and if it does not pass a test of logic I will reject it……… Do you think it is my OCD?”

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Young AdultsTerms "youth ", "adolescent", "teenager", and

"young person" are interchanged, often meaning the same thing.

Youth generally refers to a time of life that is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather somewhere in-between.

Youth also identifies a particular mindset of attitude.

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Age LimitsYouth... those persons between the ages of 15 and 24

years." - United Nations General Assembly."Time in a person's life between childhood and adulthood.

The term "youth" in general refers to those who are between the ages of 15 to 25." - World Bank.

The Commonwealth Youth Programme works with "young people (aged 15-29).

"A person... under 21 years of age." - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Youth; an individual from 13 through 19 years of age." - Alternative Homes for Youth, Inc

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Youth DevelopmentThe process through which young adults acquire

the cognitive, social, and emotional skills and abilities required to navigate life.

This experience varies for every youth: culture, gender, and socioeconomic are important influences on development.

This development occurs throughout a young person's life, including formal and informal settings such as home, worship place, or school; and similar relationships, such as peer friendships, work, parenting, teaching, or mentoring.

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Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial DevelopmentHope: Trust vs. Mistrust (Infants, 0 to 1 year)Will: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Toddlers, 2 to 3 years)Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool, 4 to 6 years)Competence: Industry vs. Inferiority (Childhood, 7 to 12

years)Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion (Adolescents, 13 to 19

years)Love: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Young Adults, 20 to 34 years)Care: Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle Adulthood, 35 to

65 years)Wisdom: Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Seniors, 65 years


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"Identity Crisis"

Erikson is credited with coining the term "Identity Crisis"[

Adolescents "are confronted by the need to re-establish [boundaries] for themselves and to do this in the face of an often potentially hostile world."[

society normally makes allowances for youth to "find themselves," and this state is called 'the moratorium‘

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs

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Five features of emerging adultsAs Arnett describes it, emerging adulthood can be defined as an: Age of identity exploration. Young people are deciding who they are and

what they want out of work, school and love. Age of instability. The post-high school years are marked by repeated

residence changes, as young people either go to college or live with friends or a romantic partner. For most, frequent moves end as families and careers are established in the 30s.

Age of self-focus. Freed of the parent- and society-directed routine of school, young people try to decide what they want to do, where they want to go and who they want to be with--before those choices get limited by the constraints of marriage, children and a career.

Age of feeling in between. Many emerging adults say they are taking responsibility for themselves, but still do not completely feel like an adult.

Age of possibilities. Optimism reigns. Most emerging adults believe they have good chances of living "better than their parents did," and even if their parents divorced, they believe they'll find a lifelong soul mate.

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Fromm sees alienation as the disease of modern human being, who is estranged from herself, from her feelings, from her fellow men and from nature: „alienation from both inside and outside ourselves”(Fromm 1991, p. 43).

There are five different forms of alienation: Social Isolation, Powerlessness, Negativity, Meaninglessness, Normlessness (Objection).

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Issues in Identity CrisesAlienation Optimism Integration FanaticismDisengagement ActivismSearch for Meaning Political PsychologyEmptiness Sociology of Social ChangeFreedom DesperationIdentity ExtremismApathy ViolenceMarginalized AnarchyRebellion MigrationRevolution Drugs

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Arab Youth

young people aged 15-29 totaled some 113 million in 2009 (UN estimates), or nearly one-third of the entire population, and about 47% of the working age population.

This youth population is expected to peak in 2011 at 113.5 million, and then decline very slightly in the decades ahead.

Most of these young people are getting a basic education and enjoy essential social services, like health care and clean water.

They generally lack the opportunity to manifest the full attributes of their humanity -- their ideas, creative and professional talents, entrepreneurial spirit, cultural dynamism, and sense of how their societies should be run and in which direction they should head.

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Environment of Arab YouthConditions vary widely in different Arab countries, but the

common denominator throughout the region seems to comprise three core weaknesses: Education systems that fail to promote personal development

aspirations or national development drives; Economies that do not tap the full potential of the energy and

talent of our youth;Political governance systems that treat youth and adults alike

as unthinking and servile subjects, rather than as citizens with rights to define national policies and hold accountable those in power.

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Arab Youth’s Identity CrisisOnly 20% (society of the 1/5) of Arab youth have the

opportunity to reap the benefits of globalization.Most Arab youth remain marginalized, disempowered, and subject to waste of competencies and awareness.Lack of opportunities for self-realization through participation

in the industry of national determination.Can not find an escape from the mechanisms of collective

anesthesia (social and religious norms, media, consumerism) Live in the time of an old system collapsing and a new system

that has not shaped yet.

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Youth Engagement

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ReferencesKhouri, Rami. (2010)."Young Arab World

Arising." Agence Global, February 10, 2010. Hijazi, Mustafa. Psychology of Wasted People. Hijazi Mustafa. Psychology and Globalization.Munsey, Christopher. (2006). Emerging

adults: The in-between age. Monitor on Psychology; APA, June 2006, Vol 37, No. 6, p: 68

Roel Meijer. (2000). Alienation or Integration of Arab Youth: Between Family, State and Street.

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What is our role as Mental Health Professionals?