Words from an Iraqi psychiatrist

Dr Haidr al-Maliki was as an army psychiatrist during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

He now works as a child psychiatrist at Ab Ibn Rushed Hospital in Baghdad. He lives with his wife and four children.

“There used to be about 80 psychiatrists in Iraq, now there are just 20 to 25.

And some of them will leave. Fifteen or so will eventually go to the UAE or to Jordan; it’s difficult.

About a year ago, during Ramadan, four boys aged about 15 to 20 came into my private clinic, in front of my patient.

They asked “Are you Dr Haidr?” I said yes. And they shot me several times.

One bullet went into my right shoulder, another into my right arm. I am left with nerve injury and muscle atrophy.

Afterwards they told me I couldn’t go to my clinic and that I had to leave the country. They didn’t say why.

So, now I don’t go out, I just stay at home. My own private jail.
During Saddam’s regime we could take our families to the cinema.

I want to drink, I want to dance, I want to visit my friends. But I can’t do anything. If I even think about going for a drink in my club 500m from my house, I will be killed.

Iraqi people are living in difficult times. Most of us have been exposed to aggression: attacks in the street, car bombings, kidnappings.

Most Iraqi people now deal with each other in an aggressive way; they show disturbed behaviour; they have lost their civility.

We don’t know how to treat these problems really.

But I can’t leave Iraq. If I and my friends leave, who will help our people?

Limitations of care

I was asked to open the child psychiatry centre in Ab Ibn Rushed hospital, but I have no training in children, really.

I read books and I try to help.

Most of the children are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, especially those who have been exposed to kidnapping.

Most of the children I see are bedwetting. They have disturbed behaviour or epilepsy.

We treat them with simple medication; it is very difficult.

Most of the families come here for help and sometimes we can do nothing for them, except offer support and advice.”

See the original article here at the BBC news site.

Posted by: Eleanor


6 responses to “Words from an Iraqi psychiatrist

  1. Hi Eleanor,
    Just to let you know, I have tagged you as nominee for a Thinking Blogger Award. I was tagged myself and had to think of 5 worthy recipients. Although I may not always agree with the issues raised here and on other sites, I respect your reasoned and contemplative replies. I do read articles by the MindFields College, have had some articles sent to me that I have found interesting, even though I was at odds with some concepts, they made me think…and that can only be a good thing. Therefore I have tagged you as a thinking blogger. If you wish to participate, please go to:
    and read the rules.

    Och, It’s just a wee bit of fun!

  2. Seems that my previous comment has been eaten. I will have to indulge in a bit of link baiting then, as i cannot spend any more time. You have been tagged as a recipient of The Thinking Blogger Award. For the origin and rules, go to:

  3. I found the article from Dr Haidr al-Maliki very disturbing. What an awful awful heartbreaking situation in Iraq. What can be done to help people like Dr Haidr al-Maliki????

  4. Dear Elanor
    May I trouble yout to send me the e-mail address for Dr Maliki/ I am a psychiatrist who has specialized in disdaster management



  5. Waiting for a response to my inquiry re
    Dr Maliki’s e-mail address

  6. Sorry – I saw this article at the BBC news website as stated at the end of this post. I don’t have the email address for Dr Maliki.

    MindFields Blog

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