National Identity and Mental Health

Understanding that you are of the same nationality as the gas station worker from a hundred meters away in foreign lands… Hoping that violoncello would crop up the memories while being plunged in thoughts with effect of the sound of a ney. Climbing the walls during national team’s games. Being marginalized because you are of the same nationality. Understanding the same language. Calling the same ancestors “grandfathers”, “grandmothers”. To get the goose bumps at Chunuk bair in Çanakkale. Being hospitable. Forcing the guests to eat. Having a high tolerance for pain. Being patient. Being a member of a specific nation… Being a nation. Being Turkish.

The apprehension of going against universal values? Or the ideological traps? I don’t know, but some friends remain quite distant from this definition of being Turkish, they don’t lean towards it. I must tell you in advance that being Turkish is not a reason of superiority, but rather an identity, a definition of the self. That’s to say, it is our inseparable and absolute part, without which we would fall to pieces and become spiritually invaded. Any members of any nation protecting their own identity is, of course, has a major importance.

As a matter of fact, this issue was put down on paper many times from different angles. It still has been. I would like to touch on this issue from a psychiatric perspective.

For instance, making someone with strong religious beliefs say “There is no God!” is an apparent torture. Traumas caused by the ban of scarf are known to all. In brief, the denial of an important part of the self may cause serious mental damages, even psychosis.

As known, these broken “selves” are restored through a psychotherapy technique named “personality analysis”.

I would like to emphasize the significance of the matter with a few examples. The father of an Alewite friend of mine acted as a Sunni in order to avoid social marginalization until the end of his life. His life ended as a weak, passive, coward, uneasy and defeated player. In another example, I remember the loser profile of a religious patient of mine who acted as an atheist. He cried his heart out. Another one is the tragic story of a young worker who felt obliged to hide his Kurdish identity and when directly asked would fearfully answer like “…. But I’m an Iranian Kurd!”, trying to hold on to life… I remember the story of a doctor who warned the friends he was hosting at a restaurant in France, saying “Don’t you reveal that we are Turkish by starting a fight over who will pay the check!”.

What I’m saying is that if the individuals cannot openly express the main elements of his/her own identity, then they have to prepare themselves for especially paranoia, depression, anxiety, any thousands of other disorders, due to the fear of being caught.

I would like to attract your attention to an extremely important trap once again. Our nation is neither more inferior than any other nation, nor can it be defined as superior to other nations. The thing is being different. Not being superior. Our national identity is the unique, only and most beautiful attire we put on.

In short, I wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is quite a close and accurate relation between the robustness of our mental health and us protecting our national identity.

Going a little more forward, I can claim this: the functionality of our brain as an organ is a derivative of the culture we physiologically live in.

Saying watch out for all kinds of ideologies taking away the opportunity of living our own identity, and the trap of elitism, I wish you a paranoia-free, depression-free and characterful life. I would like to address to all different nations from here, giving my love and regards.

As a final word, I would like to express that we owe our mental health to all of our ancestors, our exalted Atatürk in particular, who gave us the opportunity to freely and easily live our national identity.

I wish you well…