Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Responding to mental health needs after terror attacks

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 13 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4828

Rapid Response:

Political bias in medical approach to war on terror casualties

There is a political bias with regard to the current 'war on terror'.

Any perusal of medical journals - such as the British Journal of Psychiatry - will locate many articles on the mental health of veterans in Afghanistan or Iraq, or of terror victims in the West.

The coverage in the medical literature on the mental illness produced by western attacks in the Middle East and Central Asia is little, or nothing, in comparison. Yet, across a shattered Afghanistan, for example, the fear of unpredictable drone attacks, the night raids on villages, the torture in military bases, must surely be increasing psychosis and depression in a very Third World population.

The implication is that the mental health of Third World peasants matters less than that of the apparently sophisticated citizens of the West.

This article in the BMJ concludes that the problem is 'international', but this is unlikely to mean the imperilled mental health in villages searched through and bombed by western armies.

Politics is always tribal, but medicine that is not universal in spirit is not really medicine at all.

Competing interests: I am an elderly man with Afghan heritage

28 August 2019
Zekria Ibrahimi
psychiatric patient
West London Mental Health Trust
Wellcome Library