Understanding Islamophobia and Its Effects on Clinicians
Islamophobia has been on the rise both in public discourse and in the media. The rising prevalence of this form of discrimination has significant mental health implications for the discriminators, the victims, and mental health clinicians. Conceptualizing Islamophobia as a form of religious and racial discrimination allows for greater exploration of the term itself and the negative implications of using the suffix “-phobia.” Continued use of such a misnomer may be a disservice to those suffering from religious and racial discrimination as well as psychiatric illness. Psychiatrists are very likely to come across anti-Muslim views espoused by patients and potentially even by other clinicians, which can be especially jarring. However, psychiatrists are also in the unique position of being able to explore and potentially challenge patients’ anti-Muslim views as they would any other distorted thought process in the course of treatment, lending to a possibility of more empathetic learning and understanding of our patients. As a result, it is important that we develop a framework to understand “Islamophobia” and consider its effects. The aim of this chapter is twofold: to offer a critical exploration of the basis of the term “Islamophobia” in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of the implications of its use and to discuss current trends in anti-Muslim sentiment in the clinic setting and offer a future framework for addressing them.
KeywordsIslamophobia Psychiatry Racism Discrimination Therapy Muslim Islam Mental health
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