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Bipolar Disorder in the Muslim World Essay

Introduction background and statement

There is a tendency of certain ethnic groups to reject some conditions because of reasons that are deep-rooted within their cultural and religious beliefs. For instance, people of the Muslim world do not accept bipolar disorder. It is a blow to a blow to their ego. Bipolar disorder is a condition whereby victims suffer from mood fluctuations. It can be referred to as a mental illness that makes one disconnected from reality.

It makes people face difficulties in performing normal functions of life. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2000, p. 14), bipolar disorder affects the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and social abilities of a person. Statistical findings reveal that approximately 4% of any population will encounter bipolar disorder in the course of their lives.

Therefore, bipolar disorder can be regarded as mental disarray that is characterized by schizophrenia, mania, and depression. Such people do not even understand that they have a mental illness. Psychologists have divided the symptoms of bipolar disorder into delusion, hallucinations, and bizarre behavior.

When the victims experience hallucination, they hear, feel, see, taste, and even smell things that do not exist in reality. Also, when they experience a delusion, they hold false beliefs. Lastly, when a person experiences bizarre behavior, he or she behaves in a strange way that others cannot understand.

Psychologists argue that bipolar disorder can be caused by mental illnesses and substance abuse. With this hint in mind, the paper points on the need for Muslims to view bipolar disorder as a mental illness like any other and that bipolar disorder victim should be handled with no discrimination.

Review of Literature

Like many other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder has been misunderstood in many religions and societies. The Muslim community has stigmatized bipolar disorder patients and their families over the years. Pridmore and Pasha (2004, p. 383) argue that Muslims who have mental illnesses are normally discriminated together with their families.

The Islamic faith does not recognize mental illness like bipolar disorder as a mental disorder. Psychosis is associated with a lifestyle that is not healthy and balanced. Rahman (1998, p. 12) is for the opinion that Muslims perceive not an only bipolar disorder but also all mental illnesses from the point of unbalanced life conditions.

This argument implies that, to them, the bipolar disorder results from unhealthy eating habits, lack of enough sleep, and unbalanced spirituality. In a study conducted by Stein (2000) in the Middle East, it was realized that most of the Muslims believe that bipolar disorder is a punishment from Allah because of one’s association with evil spirits (p. 1468).

The study also realized that Muslims believe that bipolar disorder can also result from evil eyes or the implantation of evil spirits by malicious persons in another one (Stein, 2000, p. 1469). However, some studies by Muslim scholars have opposed the belief that mental illnesses are caused by evil spirits (Rahman, 1998, p. 24).

A good example is a Muslim scholar Ibn Sina who was a psychiatrist. Sina rejected the notion of mental illness being caused by evil spirits. Even in the traditional Islamic community, mental illnesses were not solely attributed to evil spirits. However, the largest proportion of Muslims believes that there is a significant association of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and evil spirits.

This argument reveals why they isolate victims of mental illnesses and their families. The Islamic community ought to acknowledge that bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are caused by other psychological factors. It is only by accepting the medical perspective of mental illnesses that the Muslims will appreciate their brothers and sisters that suffer from such illness (Stein, 2000, p. 1469).

This strategy will enable them to appreciate the medical treatment for bipolar disorder. They will also be able to integrate them into their society without having to discriminate them thus reducing the stigma that these patients and their parents undergo in the society. Muslims also have stereotyped bipolar disorder to refer to insanity. People that experience hallucinations, delusion, and bizarre behavior are regarded as insane in this society.

This stereotype creates a terrible impression about these people in society. According to Dols (2007, p. 83), insanity can be regarded as the legal word that refers to impaired mental ability. From this definition, insane people cannot act or speak with reason. Muslims should understand that bipolar disorder victims can be able to act with reason, and can even speak with reason though sometimes they will experience the adverse effects of their condition.

It is from this foundation that the Muslims can take care of these victims to ensure that this condition is reversed through medical treatment. Dols (2007, p. 86) also affirms that the Islamic faith in a traditional society protected its people who were deemed to be suffering from bipolar disorder. Such people were given their fair share of inheritance with their portion being put under a guardian.

The strategy shows that even the insane were part of the Islamic faith and that they were not discriminated upon. The sharia law that guides the Islamic faith on judicial matters also recognizes the insane people by ensuring that they are treated as part of the Muslim community and that any of their needs have to be handled like the other sane Muslim faithful.

One can, therefore, argue that even when one is insane or suffering from bipolar disorder, there is no ground for discriminating him or her. Bipolar disorder victims should be provided with exceptional treatment in society. Dols also argues that Islamic believers who suffer from mental illnesses are not supposed to be forced to fulfill the five pillars of the Islamic faith (2007, p. 87).

This provision indicates that the Islamic faith should understand the mental condition that faces these people to treat them as human beings with peculiar conditions. Muslims should also understand that bipolar disorder people might at times lose control of their minds due to delusion. In such a condition, the patient acts as if he or she were insane.

Pridmore and Pasha (2004) assert that, in the Islamic faith, sharia law does not provide for compensation of destroyed property by such a patient (p. 384). This provision further indicates that such conditions can be destructive to the society especially if it goes unchecked. The society should, therefore, embrace proper medical treatment of the condition.

Another variation in the perspective of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder in the Islamic faith is seen when it comes to treatment. Islamic society was the initiator of medical, psychiatric hospitals.M ental hospitals were built in places like Damascus and Bagdad indicating that the early Muslims were committed to eliminating cases of mental illnesses and conditions such as the one under scrutiny in the society.

It also indicates that the Muslims were committed to providing mental health to its faithful by establishing distinct hospitals that were purposely preserved for bipolar disorder victims. According to Rowe (2003, p. 56), Muslims in the world have embarked on developing theoretical and practical knowledge in medical treatment.

This strategy indicates that there is a growing general acceptance of the medical treatment of mental illnesses in the Muslim world today. The belief that mental illnesses are caused by evil spirits are rootless, and that Muslims should shun away from them. Bipolar disorder can either result from drug and substance abuse. When bipolar disorder results from substance abuse, it is attributed to schizophrenia, paranoid disorder, or delusion.

Sometimes it can be caused by too much depression. It is also vital to understand that bipolar disorder has some symptoms that may make people associate the victim with an insane person. For instance, if someone experiences hallucinations, he or she senses what does not exist in reality. Such people may smell a substance or scent that is not present in the immediate environment.

Their senses are made to function abnormally by the mental condition. The other relevant factor to note is that there is no association between bipolar disorder and evil spirits. For instance, if a person continually abuses drugs like cocaine, lysergic acid diethylamide, phencyclidine, alcohol, bhang, and amphetamines, he is likely to suffer from bipolar disorder.

Stein (2000) affirms that Islamic communities in Morocco apply good luck charm by reciting the Quran to bipolar disorder patients in a bid to restore their mental conditions (p. 1470). This strategic method of treatment has worked for these people. Other Islamic communities in the world ought to learn from the Moroccan Muslims.

Combination of medical treatment and psychotherapy comprise a good resume for the treatment of the bipolar disorder. Muslims should, therefore, accept the use of medicine in the treatment of bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Victims should not remain segregated on the grounds of association with evil spirits.

Analysis and Conclusion

The idea of people from Muslim faith not accepting bipolar disorder is out of date. Although Muslims associate mental illnesses with evil spirits, there is not enough evidence for this claim. Although researches done in the Middle East revealed that Muslims still believe in evil spirits causing bipolar disorder, there is no scientific evidence rationalizing it.

Psychiatrists like Ibn Sina amongst other Muslims have refuted the notion of spiritual causes of mental illnesses. Researches by scholars like Dols reveal that bipolar disorder affects the cognitive, social, and emotional wellbeing of the victim (2007, p. 94). One can, therefore, conclude that, since bipolar disorder is a mental illness, it can only be treated using mental health initiative.

Reviews from researches in schizophrenic persons indicated that too much depression is a cause of bipolar disorder because researchers like Rahman associated the symptoms of mental illnesses with depression (1998, p. 35). Other possibilities of treatment may include psychosocial therapy like reciting the Quran to the victim. However, further researches should be done to reveal the actual impact of psychosocial treatment.

In conclusion, Muslims should appreciate the prevalence of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and its causes. They should appreciate that this is a health condition with no spiritual linkage. They should and embark on medical treatment and counseling. Therefore, it suffices to appreciate and take care of these patients with no discrimination whatsoever.

Reference List

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington, DC: Routledge.

Dols, M. (2007). Historical perspective: Insanity in Islamic law. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 2(1), 81-99.

Pridmore, S., & Pasha, M. (2004). Religion and spirituality: Psychiatry and Islam. Australasian Psychiatry, 12(1), 380-385.

Rahman, F. (1998). Health and medicine in the Islamic tradition. Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc.

Rowe, A. (2003). Honey, hadiths, and health day: A spectrum of healing in the daily life of Boston. New York: Word Press.

Stein, D. (2000). Views of mental illness in Morocco: Western medicine meets the traditional symbolic. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 163(1), 1468-1470.

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