Mental Health in the Arab World

Mental health is a very stigmatized issue, especially in parts of the Arab world. This short story as narrated by Ameer Hamad proves that mental health issues shouldn’t be overlooked. People cope in so many different ways, and this short story shows how Anas is willing to build a castle to distract him from the issues going on with his family. Humans have various ways of coping. Religious people tend to be more spiritual, they meditate more and pray more whilst asking God for Guidance. These practices are very common in the Middle East as Islam is the most common religion in the Middle East. Muslims are advised to pray more and seek guidance from God. Others cope by spending time with their loved ones , some go to therapy. Mental health is a spectrum and there’s numerous ways to deal with it and this short story by Ameer portrays one of the million ways people cope with the ups and downs of mental health. Anas appreciates his friend Ameer for helping him cope with what he’s going on. The short story’s title is “The Wooden Castle” and here is a short summary and analysis of it.

 I read a short story by Ameer Hamad. The Title of this story was ‘The Wooden Castle’. The story first seemed very basic however as I re-read it, I understood the deeper meaning behind it. Ameer always had a dream of building himself a castle, to him it was just something he wanted to do. His best friend however, had deeper reasons to build a wooden castle with his friend Ammer. Anas’ parents were going through a divorce so the idea of building a castle would distract him and then eventually be some sort of escape route for him. As for Ameer, it was just something that he wanted to do. There was no motive or anything that was pushing him to do so. Ameer and Anas started collecting wood to build their castle, they both seemed very excited about it. They both decided to build their castle near a property belonging to Anas’ grandfather and Anas’ uncle would give them wood to build their castle as well. Both of them were saving up money for their castle as well and it was going very well until Anas requested the money that they were saving because he was moving. Ameer felt very betrayed and the story ends with the forest burning. This forest had an endless amount of wood needed for the castle.

At first, the story might just seem like two boys just building a castle. My initial thoughts about the story was how Ameer was so oblivious to what was happening in Anas’ life. Anas was a very troubled kid. Both kids had different outcomes for when the castle would be completed. Ameer would have just completed a regular task whereas Anas would have a little place to get away from when his parents were fighting. To Anas, peace is home. He feels at home when he’s with his friend Ameer. He also believes that he will be at peace when the Wooden Castle is completed therefore helping his friend is somewhat a journey to better days. This goes to show that although they were both headed down the same road, the outcome for both kids were very different. Towards the end of the short story,  Anas promises his friend that he’ll be back in two years with his mom. After his parents divorce was finalized, he would move in with his mother.  If Anas had told his friend about his dilemma earlier, Ameer would have been able to come up with a solution to help Anas out and this was why he felt betrayed. The wooden castle  symbolizes the goals that Anas and Ameer want to achieve. Saving up the money, collecting wood, asking Anas’ family for help, all these tasks symbolizes the steps to success and peace. Ameer would get a sense of accomplishment from finishing the building of the castle whereas Anas would finally have a peaceful place just for him. Anas craves for some space, throughout the story you’ll read about how enthusiastic he is about the castle. Due to the toxic environment In his house, he and his mom move to a temporary home and his uncle tears down their house. He tells his friend that he’ll be back in 2 years and he will have his own room soon. Since he comes from a very toxic household, he really knows the importance of space. Arab culture is still very ancient and traditional, some of them don’t really believe in mental health issues.  Some parts of the Arab world believe that If it’s not a disease with physical symptoms then it doesn’t exist. Anas’ mental health is affected severely by what’s going in his family. Ameer is oblivious to what’s happening to Anas however he would’ve definitely helped his friend if Anas opened up sooner. I read an article about mental health in the Arab world and its complications. I read that mental health patients often try to express their mental health issues in the form of physical symptoms. The lack of mental health services despite the high income per capita in Middle East nations is very alarming. Anas who was going through so much at a very young age would still have PTSD from what had occurred even when he had fully grown up. It’s a good thing that he had confided in his friend. Most people tend to keep to themselves due to the stigma of Mental health and I hope things change. At a time like this, we need to be more understanding and be better friends to people who are going through tough times.

 

https://arablit.org/category/arablit-quarterly/

https://journals.lww.com/co-psychiatry/fulltext/2005/09000/Mental_health_practice_in_Arab_countries.19.aspx

 

5 thoughts on “Mental Health in the Arab World

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