An objective of my research sought to understand whether a concept of ‘mental health’ exists amongst the TCiE (in contrast to the Western definition of mental health that has been developed by UN/WHO). Interestingly, the UN definition appeared incomplete to respondents as it fails to address ethics.
As a researcher, I was formatting and analysing the interviews of the women who had participated in our project on ‘Investigating Trauma Therapeutic Interventions for Gender Based Violence in Afghanistan Using Traditional Story-Telling”. At the same time, the stories and the silencing betrayed the legacy of a culture rich in story-telling of creation and shared-ness.
I found that religion played a crucial role in the way sadness was understood and resolved: symptoms that otherwise might have been described as evidence of a depressive episode were often understood in those more religiously committed within the framework of the Dark Night of the Soul narrative, an active transformation of emotional distress into a process of self-reflection, attribution of religious meaning and spiritual growth.