Is My Doctor a Terrorist?

Doctors involved in London terror plot!

Registrar at a Gold Coast Hospital arrested at Brisbane airport!

The thought hit right when I heard the radio news: Is my psychiatrist a terrorist?

Criminal profiling has found that young professionals from good backgrounds, often engineers, (and now doctors), living away from their home countries were typical terrorists. Workmates usually describe them as model citizens.

On the first visit to my psychiatrists’ fusty consulting room, some Islamic pictures on the wall suggested to me that his background was other than Christian. He came from a country where Islam was the majority religion. But as our relationship needed to be scrupulously professional I knew it was inappropriate to engage him in chat. Curious as I am about most peoples’ lives, this was one person who must remain a mystery to me.

I moved right along to the serious problems in the world: my feelings. My depression, my sense of failure at not having won a Nobel or a Booker prize. My husbands’ Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My problems wrestling with the constant upkeep of the McMansion. I was so middle-aged, so disempowered. My suffering was immense and my depression was assessed as serious and chronic–requiring a high dose of anti-depressants.

I think he was an excellent psychiatrist, rarely commenting as I burbled. When he did intrude, his remarks were so incisive they were like bolts of lightning. When I saw him again after the summer holidays, he had been visiting India when the tsunami had hit, and had seen the terrible suffering. I extracted this information from him. In view of the world-shattering nature of the tsunami, I feel so stupid twittering on about my tiny problems, and told him so, but he brushed this aside. We continued with the monthly appointments.

I always wondered how we all must appear to him: us spoilt fortunate Westerners, suffering the curse of Western culture–depression. Did he secretly despise us, as we poured out our pathetic innermost secrets? Could he not, possibly, even begin to hate us? That would be understandable.

In the country my psychiatrist came from, most people live hand to mouth, they sleep under cardboard. Even under our organic feather doonas after our Sleepy Time Tea in silk teabags drunk from our fine china mugs many of us can’t get to sleep, we have so many worries, so much stress. This is one of the thoughts that troubles me when I can’t get to sleep: as we order newer, wider flat screen televisions, aren’t we like Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution? And most of the luxuries with which we pamper ourselves–our fine china, embroidered sheets, our soft fluffy pajamas– aren’t they made by underpaid workers cruelly repressed in Third World countries? Yes they are, that’s why they are so cheap, and that’s why we can afford to buy so much stuff.

In the second year when I saw him again after the summer break I asked, “How was your holiday, did you go to Queensland? ” We had been getting personal to the extent that we exchanged summaries of holiday plans.

“No,” he said, “I went on a group pilgrimage to Mecca.”

What a barbecue-stopper! I was taken aback big-time. Having met people who have been just about every single place in the world including the top of Everest and the tip of Patagonia, a Mecca pilgrimage was a first.To my fascination I realised I was still unsophisticated and a racistthat I felt some sort fear of what is fashionably called “the Other”. But I did not want him to sense this, to feel hurt or insulted, or not accepted.I did not want him to think I was one of those crass John Laws-worshipping Aussies discombobulated by anything other than the straight-forward love of ball sports even though I was much closer to being that than I had realised. And I couldn’t ask: “How was the food?” or “Did you have a lovely hotel?”

But as I was curious, I said, “Can I ask you what were the other pilgrims saying about what they feel about Australia and the reactions here to Islam?” (The usual debates had been going on.The usual ill-chosen mullahs had been making ill-chosen remarks to which all sorts of unhelpful responses were made. The whole scenario was a mess.)

“They were not talking about Australia” he replied,” All they thought about was God, and asking forgiveness from Him.”

Right. OK.

So on hearing that Islamic doctors practising in the West were apparently involved in the latest terrorist bombing attempts, I thought about Dr Ali. And wondered, just for a second, could my psychiatrist be a terrorist?

As I had just proved to myself with my jokey but kind of serious mental
queries about Dr Ali, (in whose consulting rooms I have never seen so much as a single packet of fertilizer) all Muslims are under suspicion, a
situation which must make those younger wilder engineers more prone to
catching the Jihad bug. And make all the others, even more enraged than
they already were about Palestine.

Us bourgeois leftie whiteys are tearing our hair and doing the sackcloth and ashes thing. We confess the obvious that Westerners are greedy over-consumers, that much of our culture and media is crass, that we have polluted the planet and plundered and colonised many a country and that Israel is a big problem. So we have sinned, and fallen short etc. As Palestine is attacked, and thousands of Iraqi and Afghanis civilians burn, that creates thousands of reasons why groups of religious extremists could egg each other on to visiting a symbolic revenge by laying plans to eviscerate the innocent on the streets of Britain. Does that explain the silence about the Jihadists on the part of the general Muslim population themselves?

When born-again Bush and his administration unleashes carnage in the name of freedom and democracy, millions of Westerners protest, and have continued to do so ever since the mystery of his so-called election. Is there an equivalent protest by the educated Islamic community against the theories and actions of those who pack cars with explosives and nails , in the hope of achievingwhat? And what on earth do doctors, with their revered profession, have to do with this madness?

There are many questions I would like to discuss with my psychiatrist , but it’s probably safer to stay on tried and true ground: me, me, me ….

CLAUDIA JOHNSON is the pseudonym of a writer who wants to maintain good relations with her psychiatrist. She is associated with