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Javanbakht, A. Sanati, M. (2006). Frontline—Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis in Iran. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(3):405-414.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(3):405-414

Frontline—Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis in Iran

Arash Javanbakht, M.D. and Mohammad Sanati, M.D., F.R.C.Psych.

The American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry has always had a cosmopolitan perspective and has welcomed articles and scholars from different nationalities. It serves as a forum that is not limited only to the borders of the United States, but embraces psychoanalytic minds and writings from other parts of the world. In this Frontline, the authors present an overview of psychiatry and psychology (especially psychoanalysis) in Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is located in the Middle East between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Iran's total land area is 1.6 million square kilometers. Its total population in 2003 was about 70 million (UNICEF, 2003). The annual population growth rate is 1.41%. Of the total population, 60% are urban and 40% live in rural areas (Yasamy et al, 2001).

Psychiatry in Iran

As in the West, the history of psychiatry in Iran is as old as the history of medicine. Some early sources refer to the Islamic era. For example, there is a story about the Prophet Mohammad, who tells his followers that an epileptic person is diseased rather than possessed by spirits. There is no history of aggressive or neglectful behavior toward the mentally ill, and in the poetry, only children might stone a psychotic. Such hurtful behavior was viewed as childish. The mentally ill were perceived as patients and there is evidence of treating these people in special hospitals or wards. In Iranian mystic literature there is no prominent negative attitude toward the mentally ill and, unlike in the West, they were not assumed to be possessed by devils or evil spirits.

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