Reflections upon Visiting the Al Kasr Al Aini Psychiatric clinics

October 31, 2009 at 11:11 pm (Weekly Posts) (, , , , , , )

kasr aini

The Al Kasr Al Aini Hospital, established in 1827, is located in Garden City near downtown of Cairo. It is a medical school hospital meant for the students who study at Cairo University to practice there and apply what they learn.

Psychology has always been one of the fields that has ever interested me. I used to read about the psychological theories and their major influential figures since I was 13. May be that is why I minored in psychology despite my sister’s disagreement. As I am graduating, I am taking my last psychology class in the minor, abnormal psychology. I don’t like its name. This particular field of psychology is referred to as psychopathology, not “abnormal”. We have spent a couple of classes on defining what “abnormal” is, yet we didn’t reach a conclusion.

So, for this class project, I have to interview someone who might fit the diagnosis of a certain psychological disorder as we study it in class. So, my friend and I head to the Al Kasr Al Aini Hospital Downtown where we can go to the psychiatry clinic and ask a doctor’s permission to interview 2 cases that fit the topics of our project, schizophrenia in my case and bipolar depression in my friend’s case.


Seeking help from a psychologist or psychiatrist in Egypt is highly stigmatized. Above that, according to conducted research on this area, the lower the SES class (socioeconomic status), the lesser the chances that psychological help is seeked.

On the first day we went, the psychiatrist we went to was very helpful. She knows my friends and so she made our life easier finding cases for us. She made us attend a session to learn how the questions are asked and how the session goes. It was VERY helpful. I wasn’t surprised that the psychiatry clinic had the fewest number of patients or help-seekers. It isn’t for the possibility that Egyptians are all psychologically healthy, but, sure, for the stigma of it. But I was happy to see this few being aware that whatever is “wrong” with them can be psychologically explained.

I came out of the session in a state of numbness. I couldn’t help reacting with the client, which is, of course, unacceptable. I was numb, and relieved in fact, because it feels good knowing that I am not alone in this world, complaining about its cruelty and feeling hand-cuffed about it. People are perceiving the exact same things I am perceiving, and they are feeling bad for it.

But I was amazed to observe something interesting. Not only were the clients Cairen Egyptians, but there were also Egyptians from the countryside and people who looked to be of low socioeconomic status. I was wondering about such variety and the reason for it, but couldn’t find an answer. It’s just so unexpected.

The next time we went, we found the 2 cases we needed for the project and we interviewed them. It was quite an experience, I must say! Being out in the field is utterly different from reading the text book or even personal narratives. I felt the urge of going again just to attend sessions with the psychiatrist and listening to people’s problems.

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Project # 4 Interview/profile on FeldenKrais Practitioner, Carol Ann Clouston

October 28, 2009 at 3:44 am (Podcasts) (, , , , , )


The Feldenkrais method, introduced by Ukranian Moshe Feldenkrais in the 60s and 70s, is a somatic education method aimed at increasing self awareness through movement as it mainly focuses on the relation between movement and thought.

An interview with Feldenkrais practitioner, Carol Ann Clouston
Interviewer: Asmaa Al Zohairy
Interviewee: Carol Ann Clouston
Length of Interview: 5:00 mints

Introduction (Lead):
Truly one of few inspirational teachers, and has definitely been influential to me. Carol Ann Clouston, my voice and speech teacher at AUC, is the person who opened up my mind to the idea of not always having to throw away my ways of doing something in order to learn how to do it, but rather being aware of other alternative ways is what makes it come through. The Feldenkrais “Awareness Through Movement” technique is how she makes such a notion come about. When my recorder died the 1st time I interviewed her, she was the most soothing person on earth telling me “everything happens for a reason, may be it is meant for us to get together again sometime for another same interview”.

Q1: Who is the person who helped shape who Carol Ann is now?
Q2: What is a life-changing experience that you have been through?

Thank you, Carol Ann!!

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Listening Journal # 3: Long Form Documentary # 1

October 25, 2009 at 12:35 am (Listening Journals) (, , , , , , , , )

Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru. It is where musician Lucho Hernandez plays piano in most of its restaurants.

Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru. It is where musician Lucho Hernandez plays piano in most of its restaurants.

Tur de Lima

Criteria for reviewing:
1- Who (or what company) produced the documentary?
2- Who narrated the documentary?
3- What was the length of the documentary?
4- Describe the documentary.
5- Why was the documentary interesting?
6- Quality of the narrator’s voice?
7- Was the documentary too long? Too short?
8- Other observations/suggestions.

1- The producers of the documentary: Lucho Hernandez (the narrater) and Jesse Hardman.

2- The narrator of the documentary is the man on which the documentary is based (Lucho Hernandez). He is a Peruan visually-impaired musician who recognizes every part in Lima, Peru’s capital only by its sounds. There was no voice of a reporter or an interviewer.

3- The length of the documentary is 11:29 minutes.

4- Description of the documentary:
The documentary is a “sound tour” all across Lima as Hernandez, the narrator, describes it. As he is walking, he describes what is on the corner and what building is there. So when he comes across a corner, he says there is the radio building and the piece would take us to nat sound of woman that he later explains is announcing the weather. All through the piece, there is a background sound of birds. Hernandez explains that Lima’s streets are so full of trees that you can always hear birds’ sounds above your head.

5-The documentary was very interesting to me for a couple of reasons. It is so rich with nat (natural) sounds that have made me envision Lima and actually see where this sound is coming from. The quality was also compelling, so I didn’t feel bored or annoyed because of what I will call “excessive” use of nat sound. But I have to say this was all the documentary was about, a visually-impaired man who has his perfect sense in his ears, so it was beautifully used. Another factor that made this piece interesting to me was the voice of the narrator, the musician, Hernandez. His old voice with this charming Spanish accent made me feel like my grandpa was talking, making me recollect this feel of warmth hearing that voice. I felt like his voice connected with the places he was recognizing just by passing by them and without actually seeing them. So, it was full of life, the kind that Lima has all through its streets and people with their beautiful Spanish. Also, Hernandez didn’t leave out anything without elaborating it like as he walks through the market, he would describe how a market is like in Peru or what people do. So, it was interesting keeping me connected through the description.

6- Quality of the narrator’s sound: It was really good. At some points, I felt that his voice was a bit lower than the nat sound around him, which made me have little trouble understanding what he was saying. But other than that, the quality was awesome.

7- As for the length of the documentary, I think it was about the right length. Wasn’t too long, nor was it too short. I believe so because as the piece was on, it didn’t lose or miss me at any point; I was following what was being told. By the time it was over, I felt like yes that was the right time to cut it off, cause had it gone longer than that, I would have probably gone off searching for some other piece.

8- Other observations or suggestions:
I think it was nice ending the piece with Hernandez reaching his home and still describing it while going up the stair till he gets in and say “we’ll stop here till another tour”. Then music is on for about three quarters a minute, letting the listeners reflect on what they have just listened to. I liked that.
Also, I liked the smooth transition among the different places Hernandez was calling on. Though they might seem irrelevant, but somehow, he’d insert a story that will make you connect with the place and after doing so, he’d take you to another one with a different sound, different story.
There was one particular aspect that I liked about the website Third Coast Festival, and that it provides a link to the “Behind the scenes” where I can know what difficulties faced the production of the piece. It was interesting checking this out.

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