Tuesday, February 16, 2010


An unusually astute article about the social and emotional ramifications of living in a society where there is low trust in the government's ability to ensure public safety.

Interest in psychiatry not a class issue

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Monday, February 15, 2010


Crimes committed within families are increasing in Turkey, says Professor Yankı Yazgan, a prominent psychiatrist, adding that the feeling of trust in authorities is decreasing. This leads to feelings of "ambiguity" and having to "take care of one’s self," which is at the core of depression, he says.

Breaking the myth that only the wealthy and upper-middle class segments of society have the luxury to visit psychiatrists, a prominent psychiatrist says the interest in psychiatry is growing among all social levels in Turkey.Professor Yankı Yazgan has worked as a psychiatrist for around 20 years, becoming famous among younger generations through the puzzles he wrote for the daily Cumhuriyet.

Yazgan was also featured on news bulletins speaking about trauma in the wake of disasters, particularly after the major 1999 earthquake that hit the Marmara region. Yazgan mainly works with children and adolescents.There is huge interest from people at the psychiatry clinics of public hospitals that have resulted in waiting lists, Yazgan said.Parents are now more aware of their children’s problems, their success in schools and mental health, he said, adding that he has colleagues in Anatolian cities and that many people have shown great interest in psychiatry clinics in hospitals there as well.

“People know they should visit psychiatrists [for relevant problems], but they do not know through which channels they can do that,” Yazgan said. For instance, it can be difficult to get an appointment from a public hospital while hundreds of people wait in line everyday while many public authorities do not fulfill their responsibilities in this area or, if they do, the needs are not seen as very large, he said.Trust in authorities decreasing.

According to Yazgan’s observations of Turkish society, people increasingly feel they need to take care of themselves. “The feeling of security is decreasing,” he said. For instance, if people rescue their own friends from a flood, while authorities cannot, the feeling of having to take care of one’s self increases, he said in reference to the latest flood disaster in the southern province of Antalya.There, a man who was stuck on a tree after a flood hit the province could not be rescued by emergency services and died after many hours while his friend, who was holding onto the same tree, was eventually rescued by his friends.

As a result, Yazgan said, people could stop expecting anything from elders and authorities. “These feelings are at the core of depression,” Yazgan said, referring to the feeling of ambiguity and the need to look out for one’s self. As long as the authorities assure safety, bullying between individuals is free, Yazgan said, describing the current atmosphere as a reason to injure people’s feelings of safety. “Look at parents; they can leave the solution to a fight between siblings to them, but they punish the children more harshly if they disrespect one of the parents.

”The earthquake in the Marmara region in 1999 also affected this situation, he said. The trauma it created and the insufficiency in healing this trauma further caused a lack of trust. “After the quake, rather than questioning how safe Istanbul is, the city has become exaggerated, as with the European Capital of Culture,” he said. Yazgan also said there has been an increase in crimes committed within families, such as child abuse, maltreatment and even murder.

“It is not only about an exaggeration of media,” he said.The situation in Turkey is not that different from the one in the United States regarding these crimes, he said, except for the higher levels of drug addiction in children in the United States. “However, there is a great threat for this in Turkey, too.”

Yazgan graduated from Ege University Medical School in İzmir and before studying psychiatry at Marmara University. Later on, he studied child and adolescent psychiatry at Yale University in the United States.

1 comment:

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