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.



  1. doudz said,

    Seems to be a really nice experience Asmaa !
    I was surprised like you to know that there are people from low socioeconomic status who are seeking psychological treatment..
    nice one..keep it up!

  2. azohairy said,

    Thank you for the comment doudou! Indeed it was quite an experience!! 🙂

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