Islamophobia is giving Muslims mental disorders, studies suggest

Published: November 18, 2015
'Discriminatory behaviour towards Muslims is the largest contributing factor to their deteriorating mental health' PHOTO: THE ODYSSEY ONLINE

'Discriminatory behaviour towards Muslims is the largest contributing factor to their deteriorating mental health' PHOTO: THE ODYSSEY ONLINE

Muslims around the world have to deal with a spate of hate comments everytime there’s a terrorist attack by self-proclaimed guardians of Islam. Researchers say the negative reaction following such attacks is taking a toll on the mental and physical health of Muslim-Americans.

Hardly surprising.

A report published in ThinkProgress quotes a 2012 study by a group of Norwegian psychology professors: “Studies have shown that many Muslims not only experience religious discrimination in their daily lives, but are fully aware of their devalued position in society.”

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The report also states that the discriminatory behaviour Muslims have to deal with on a daily basis is the largest contributing factor to the deteriorating mental health of Muslims living in the US.

Quoting a 2011 study on Muslim-Americans, the report states that majority of the Muslims felt safer before the 9/11 attack. However, after the attack 82 per cent of them felt extremely unsafe. Research indicates many of those people later developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the anxiety and abuse.

Another study conducted in 2013 on Muslim women living in the UK — who were victim to Islamophobic attacks — said that these women “expressed feelings of humiliation, anger, sadness, isolation, and disgust”, and are scared of leaving their homes.

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Islamophobia has also spread to medical settings, discouraging many Muslims from going to clinics. Although this may be subconscious, many doctors do not realise that their Muslim patients may be suffering from constant stress of living in a biased country, claims the report.

“Clinicians must recognise the types of microaggressions their Muslim clients may experience in their everyday lives, as well as potential microaggressions that may occur in therapy,” advises a 2012 report published in the Journal of Muslim Mental Health.

Assumptions and biases on the part of a doctor can lead to a misdiagnosis or misunderstanding of the patient’s problems. For instance, “If a non-Muslim female psychologist assumes that a hijab is oppressive against women, she may unconsciously try to steer her client away from covering, instead of understanding the significance of the hijab in her Muslim client’s life,” says the 2012 study.

The report published in ThinkProgress claims that Muslims also face insufficient physical medical care due to the unconscious bias. The report says it’s important to note that Muslim culture is not known to many, due to which many physicians can overlook their lifestyle, birth-customs and dietary habits, leading to dangerous medical advice.

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“Prior to 9/11, there was virtually nothing published that related to the mental health of Muslims in the United States,” said Mona M Amer, a professor of psychology at the American University of Cairo, in a 2011 interview. “After that, there has been a handful of studies.”

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Indian
    Nov 18, 2015 - 7:38PM

    Muslims all over the world think that they can treat non muslims the same way as they treat in muslim majority country . When some one reacts to this then they start claiming islamaphobia.Recommend

    Nov 18, 2015 - 9:01PM

    I thought it is otherway round.Recommend

  • Parisian
    Nov 18, 2015 - 9:27PM

    Stop feeding the victimhood monster. Perceived and imagined feelings of victimhood lead to radicalisation and terrorism!Recommend

  • Telh
    Nov 19, 2015 - 3:50AM

    I have the cure – Muslims should move to Islamic countries. SimpleRecommend

  • Redhead
    Nov 19, 2015 - 7:58AM

    If they hate western countries ways and morals so much why do they continue to move to western countries??? Why don’t they stay in the countries that follow the same laws they want??? Recommend

  • Gina
    Nov 19, 2015 - 12:57PM

    The Muslims need to leave our countries and return home. Neither Europe nor America wants them. The discrimination is only going to increase as they continue to demand that we service them. Recommend

    Nov 19, 2015 - 4:27PM

    @Telh: I agree with your cure only if Western armies move out of muslim lands such as Syria and Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Lara
    Nov 20, 2015 - 6:28AM

    Or they chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free” meaning Israel should be erased from the world. It is terrible to be discriminatory to any ethnic group.. but I so hate the victimhood card. Have you heard a Jewish person say “Anti Semitism is giving Jews a mental disorder”? NO and reason being because they write letters to Editor or go on talk shows and then they get busy becoming doctors, lawyers, inventing stuff iso whining 24/7.Recommend

  • Sue
    Nov 20, 2015 - 6:49AM

    @IBN E ASHFAQUE: – I’m all for those armies leaving……cant wait. Hate seeing the body bags. Oil and water dont mix. Recommend

  • John Banks
    Nov 21, 2015 - 2:03AM

    Discriminatory behaviour Muslims have to deal with on a daily basis is the largest contributing factor to the deteriorating mental health of Muslims living in the US….. Are ya SURE it’s not the strapping on of C4 knowing they are gonna blow innocent people up?????Recommend

  • Travis
    Dec 1, 2015 - 2:07PM

    Maybe they will get a sense of how minorities must feel in Muslim countries.Recommend

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