Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

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Purportedly mentally ill man is chained by his leg to a support in an abandoned house in one of Cambodia’s provinces.  Source: TPO (or PTO) via Twitter

The first two photos in this post are said to have been taken in Cambodia, but I cannot vouch for their authenticity, date or anything else about them.  They showed up in my Twitter feed with “PTO” as the source but, in a subsequent message, corrected as “TPO.”

Whether as real as they appear to be, the photos strike me as emblematic of how misunderstood mental illness is in Cambodia, how inadequate is its treatment and how brutal can be efforts to control severe cases.

Below is the second photo in the Twitter item, included only below because, in my opinion, it is far too sensational to put at the top. Continue reading

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Bhutan is a destination worth adding to your bucket list

275Bhutan is everything wonderful you may have heard about the landlocked country that celebrates its “Gross National Happiness.”  It also is a bit less.  

What’s I mean by “less” relates to
Continue reading

Thinking out of proverbial box could better Cambodia

You can be sure that participants in this protest against the ruling party a while back collectively represent unfathomable need.

Modern history has demonstrated that, indeed, there always is something new under the sun.

Under this nation’s punishing sun, perhaps some possibly new ideas could improve the lives of the heartbreakingly numerous Cambodians unable even to hope for a better life.

As I make my way around the country, various Continue reading

Why so much violence in this officially Buddhist nation?

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In guest post, the writer explores the Khmer Rouge’s violence and violence today.

This illuminating post is published verbatim with the permission of journalist and novelist Philip J. Coggan, whose blog is the source and is well worth following.  If you are in Cambodia, you also likely will appreciate his new book, Spirit World, available at Monument Books.

Here is the big question: how and why did a Buddhist nation produce one of the 20th century’s worst genocides, and one which is marked by so many horrific instances of cruelty and savage violence? A whole chapter in my book Spirit Worlds is devoted to this and for my answer I relied heavily on Alexander Laban Hinton’s Why Did They Kill?. This article therefore stands as a sort of review of Hinton’s book, which is essential reading for all those who want to understand Cambodia.

At one point in my book I remark that underneath the Cambodian smile there lurks Continue reading

Traditional weddings in Cambodia truly test endurance

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The couple engaged in numerous rituals, this one directly in front of their parents.

The bride, bridegroom and their families arose around 3 a.m. on the day of the wedding to prepare for formalities starting approximately 7 a.m.  Preparations included the professional application of layers of makeup and the creation of elegant hairdos.

The key figures didn’t sleep again until sometime before midnight the same day following an elaborate dinner attended by a throng of 640 in a catering hall.

They also were up late the previous night, when 260 of their closest friends and extended family members joined them for a night of celebrating the upcoming union at tables set up under a tent on the street in front of the bride’s home in the Phnom Penh district of Stung Meanchey.

Little did I, who had to leave home for the wedding at 6 a.m., appreciate Continue reading

In Phnom Penh, I am nothing like Rodney Dangerfield

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Rodney, of course.

Many readers will recall how Rodney Dangerfield, the late comedian, was always complaining that he got no respect.

The problem for me here in Cambodia is the endless gestures of respect that I happen to get.  What is the reason for them?

It must be some combination of Continue reading

To Cambodians, some holidays really, really matter

 

Despite the holiday's religious basis, there prevails a distinctly festive air.

Despite the holiday’s religious basis, there prevails a distinctly festive air.

In this country, where Buddhism is the national religion, there are two exceptionally long holidays.

The first that I encountered, last spring, was Khmer (or Cambodian) New Year, which officially lasts for three days.  Many citizens find a way to extend that period to a week or so, enabling them to spend time with their families in the provinces.

This week, I’ve had the twofold pleasure of experiencing another long holiday.  Pchum Ben technically lasts for 15 days, but it peaks during its final three days, ending this year on Wednesday.  Despite the time period,  Continue reading