Democracy and Mental Health

As a teenager around year 1976 or 1977, back home in Tehran, I was reading a novel that was about participating events during the Russian revolution.

The novel was attention-grabbing and several times I came across the word Democracy. I really did not know the meaning of that word. My curiosity motivated me to look up the word in a dictionary we had in our library. I did not appreciate to skip the unfamiliar word that like many other Latin words were being printed in our Persian literature.

I looked up the word just because I had an emerging need for conceptualizing the story. I think the meaning that I found was too vague or too broad and I tried to put things into a context by that simple minded meaning of a big concept as Democracy.

I was not satisfied with the dictionary. I guess this word had been reluctantly overlooked by the system of censure at that time or it might have been by accident or because of translation errors. I remember I was thinking how come this was the first time I had seen this word, while I used to read books. Who knows?

I asked my father what that word meant. He did not like my question and he did not know the answer either. He suggested that I do not care about that remark because that word did not meant to be for us Iranian. I become conscious that if my father did not have a respond to my question, it maybe due to the fact that the word itself did not relate to our lives anyway, so why learns it?

For some reason I took the matter further, I took the book to school and asked my literature teacher. I expected this very knowledgeable teacher to know because he knew meaning of the most rigorous Persian poems. Somehow I guess I liked to show him my book to may be show-off to him as he was a role model to me. My teacher did not like my question either, his face turned red and he advised me to forget about that word and never again take that book to school.
Now looking back, I do not question why we (Iranian) are where we are now. I question how we would not be here in this crisis that we are in now.

Many of us Iranian enjoy the democracy and human rights in Western cultures we reside in. We live the word and live the meaning of what democracy means in the countries we live in.
Our history, the Iranian one, the real Persian one, is one of the saddest stories on earth. The rise and fall of democracy is truly a sad story that has happened in our history numerous times. We have to analyze our history from every angle, particularly from the angle of mental health and psychology. Rigidity in thoughts and in feelings causes mental heath issues. How can we say that all the repeated and patterned attacks on democracy are not due to rigidity pertinent to mental health issues?

We just give this hypothesis a chance and contemplate on it.

Mental health issues damage the actualization of democracy. People, who lack the psychological stability, would not care for democracy. Now looking back I believe that we can not reach democracy if people are scared, traumatized, silenced, and domesticated. People who have been excluded and ignored can not see the benefit of democracy.

We are where we are historically, physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically just because we have been manipulated time after time. We have let go of our own power because we are falling for mental health issues due to anger, hatred, avoidance, ignorance, fear of rejection, and fear of failure. No wonder we Iranian are fragmented. No wonder we are where are now.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 29, 2008 by this author

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