Identity Vs Role Confusion

According to Eric Erikson, identity vs role confusion is one of the psychosocial crisis that we all go through in life as we mature into adulthood. There are 8 stages of psychosocial crisis throughout our lives. If we are able to resolve all of our psychosocial crisis, we will emerge as a healthy individual with successful acquisition of basic virtues.

During teenage years, one of the psychosocial crisis involves identity vs role confusion. Teenagers will try to test the environment around her, the societal rules, the norms… trying to get a sense of their identity. Who am I? What sort of person am I? What do I identify with? 

According to Erikson, “the adolescent mind is essentially a mind or moratorium, a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood, and between the morality learned by the child, and the ethics to be developed by the adult.”

When you are still in the throes of the psychosocial crisis of identity vs role confusion, how is it sensible to make a permanent decision of changing your gender? How is it even ethical for us to support that as a doctor?

But apparently, that’s what some people in the Western world did. 

I recommend that you read the article above yourself  H.E.R.E

How aggressive and unethical the LGBTQ+ movement can be in gambling the future of innocent children for the sake of ensuring that their cult (really!) will always have some supporters.

Clinicians involved had reported their worries that some patients were referred to a gender transitioning pathway too quickly. Like I said, you haven’t even resolved your psychosocial conflict of identity vs role confusion, and yet you are already referring these children (CHILDREN, guys!) to this clinic. Some of  them were given puberty blockers, the long term side-effects of which are only very little known!

What are puberty blockers?

Puberty blockers stop a young person’s body developing breasts, periods, facial hair or a deeper voice.

Recently updated NHS guidance on puberty blockers acknowledges that little is known about their long-term effects, or what impact they might have on children’s brains and bones.

I find this very alarming! Imagine the psychological damage that they will face if these children grow up regretting their decision! In fact, someone had already sued the NHS gender clinic over this matter once they have become an adult. You can read about it H.E.R.E

In a world when most people want everything natural and vegan and cruelty-free, how do you reconcile approving such a treatment to children?! The funny thing is even so-called vegan people are championing the propaganda of LGBTQ+ movement. And I am feeling rather confused here… how do you utilize your mind? Don’t you ever feel unsettled by the cognitive dissonance that you are operating under? Whatever you put on your skin in terms of skincare and make-up products, you are so proud of how vegan you are being! But when it comes to hormonal and surgical treatment in order to change your appearance into looking like the other gender, suddenly you change your stand 180 degrees by saying “Oh we should support self-expression and this is all about being true to yourself about who you really are…. yadda yadda yadda…”

These are all mumbo jumbo wishy-washy stuff that do not stand critical analysis! It is nauseating! At last when they could no longer justify their stands, they would fall back to the magic word that in their opinion will bring victory to any argument. Freedom! Freedom is that magical word.

“It is their freedom to do what they feel is right.” (Jawapan budak-budak yang tak menggunakan akal kan? Bila kita tanya budak-budak nakal “Kenapa buat macam tu?”. Budak-budak akan cakap “Eh suka hatilah.” Wow… amazing use of your reasoning, there! Situasi yang sama tengah berlaku when it comes to reasoning with LGBTQ+ people.)

“Sure…. no one is denying your freedom to do anything stupid. We are just pointing out how senseless and stupid and unhealthy and wrong it is. That’s all.”

Whatever it is, one thing is clear. I will not do or support what is wrong. 

But then some people say, “How do you know what is wrong and right?”

I would answer that by saying “I have my own system, i.e my religion, to know what’s wrong and what’s right. Do YOU have a system?”

And then they would say, “How do you know your system is right?”

I would then say “Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe the same way you know your system is right. That is, if you have one.”

The funny thing is some people have a system of ‘not having a system’ and therefore they think  that people who do have a system is being oppressed within the system. *shakes head*

So they loudly proclaimed that they are free people who can do whatever they want without being bound by the rules of any religion. But wow… they too end up being oppressed by their own freedom when they made a wrong choice in life after refusing to follow any type of guidance or system… they are lost because they don’t have any system or criteria to measure there life decision upon… and they don’t even realize it. 

Look at the issue of the child gender clinic, and  tell me how this is not oppression at its most sickening level! How could you ALLOW this to happen to children whose psychosocial stages are not yet resolved to be able to make this decision?

Try and justify this! If you can. 

The Amazing J.K Rowling

You guys probably know that I grew up reading Harry Potter books and watching all the films adaptation of the Harry Potter series. I have always been amazed by the genius creativity displayed by J.K Rowling in the writing of her Harry Potter series.

So recently, it came to my attention that J.K Rowling was slammed by LGBTQ+ activists all around the world for allegedly being transphobic when she took issue with an article that used the term “people who menstruate” instead of using the term “women”.

She tweeted : ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben?Wimpund? Woomud?’

Basically she was just saying that we should call women as women. Because people who menstruate are women! So why did this article have to use the term “people who menstruate”? And I find myself agreeing with her on this. LGBTQ+ people and supporters are getting more and more ridiculous over the years! They are SO insecure about their gender identity to the point that they just NEED to force other people to agree to change universally accepted and precise terms like ‘women’ into a more vague, non-precise terms like “people who menstruate”. And when we call them out on this ridiculousness, suddenly we are the transphobic ones?

Give me a break!

Even Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson turned their backs on J.K Rowling for saying what is after all, a mere fact. That women menstruate… so why should we use the term “people who menstruate” instead of saying the word women!

I find J.K Rowling as quite brave for saying what she really thinks, knowing how ‘popular’ and ‘powerful’ the LGBTQ+ movement is in the West. Luckily, here in Malaysia, we do not allow them to overpower our society. Islam is the official religion of the country. And in Islam (and in fact in ALL Abrahamic religions and MOST other non-Abrahamic religions) LGBTQ+ are considered as an aberration and adopting that identity is a sin.

Sure, the LGBTQ+ people may say “I don’t follow your religion. Why are you imposing your opinion on me.”

But I can also say “I don’t follow your opinion too. But you are forcing it on me and demanding for policy changes in the society that would affect my life. You can believe in your lifestyle and do whatever you like. Tak teringin pun nak mengintip apa kau buat di belakang pintu. But you! Why do you want to force me to approve of you? Why need my approval? Why need the society’s approval? Why do you advocate for change of policies and laws in the society? When you want to change policies and laws and start to advocate for your movement, OF COURSE you will have to face counter-propagation and counter-advocation! So, don’t play victim here. Sepanjang kehidupan di dunia ini, people have gone to WAR to fight for ideologies…. be it imperialism, communism, democracy, Zionism, Christianity, Islam! Unfortunately, that is the life of this world! So tak payah buat terkejut yang orang menentang kau. Kami pun ada ideologi kami! If you propagate, we propagate too! May the best propagator win!”

Look, you can do whatever you like behind closed doors. You can dress however you like and I would not even bat an eyelash. But you do NOT get to force me to say that what you do is right! No one can force me to approve what I don’t approve. I have my own stand and my own opinion, khalas! Just like you want to advocate for your point of views, I too have the rights to advocate for mine. If you call me transphobic, I will call you Islamophobic. Because my views are Islamic in nature. So if criticizing your opinion makes me transphobic/homophobic, then criticizing me will make you Islamophobic or even anti-semitic (because all semitic religions are against LGBTQ+). But frankly speaking, rather than bypassing the reasoning of our brain by labelling people as transphobic/homophobic/Islamophobic/anti-semitic etc etc, let’s just have an honest to goodness factual, scientific discussion. Does LGBTQ+ stand/lifestyle/opinions make sense scientifically, philosophically, morally, psychologically? Talk about that! And stop labelling people who criticize your points!

“We are not trying to cause trouble. We just want to live our life in peace.” says the LGBTQ+ person.

Nope! Living your life in peace is not the only aim you have here. Otherwise, we all would have gone on with our lives and not pay any attention to you. Don’t pretend that all you want is to live your life with your loved ones in peace! Your actions speak louder than words.

The truth is… you wanted to force the society to change established policies and laws for you! As though you are the only one with rights! That’s why people are angry! Hospital administrators had to think about whether or not we need to set a separate ward for you because you cannot be placed in a male ward or a female ward. If you are in prison, the prison administrator don’t know where to place you… female or male prison. There was the public toilet issue we need to think about…. whether we need a separate LGBTQ+ public toilet because neither genders are comfortable to have you in their toilets! Why should THEY sacrifice their sense of comfort and safety just so you can choose which toilet you feel like going? Are their rights lesser than yours? In championing equality for one group (the LGBTQ+ group), you go overboard by discriminating the other group!

In sports, women are unfairly treated when they have to compete with trans-women who are biologically stronger to them with greater muscle mass! But they could not voice out their concerns because the LGBTQ+ movement are more powerful than their small voice in the West! How is this fair and just? How about creating a third sport category now so that LGBTQ+ people can compete with one another fairly… hmmm? But no…it would not be fair either to simply create a third category because transwomen need their own category and transmen also need their own category. So for all sport events we should have four gender categories: men, women, transmen and transwomen. Ok? But oh no… that would hurt their feelings too. “I identify as a woman! Why do you need to put me in other categories! I told you I am a woman! According to Emma Watson, trans people are who they say they are. So if I say I am a woman, then I am a woman. Why are you putting me in a different category than other women! I am a woman just like any other woman!” *sigh*

Facts are facts regardless of your feelings, si? But no…tak puas hati lagi dengan fakta! They then recruited loud, influential Hollywood celebrities to advocate for them. Like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

Emma Watson can get away saying nonsensical stuff such as “Trans people are who they say they are…”

Wow… so the truth can be determined by whatever anyone says now, is it? How ridiculous is that? Just because you say something, it doesn’t make it true! If I say I am a man, it doesn’t automatically change my genetic make-up and I wouldn’t suddenly grow a male genitalia! Please have some sense when you make your statement.

Hollywood celebrities are very influential people and they have the power to shape the opinion of the public. But does their support for LGBTQ+ community make sense and free from any self-serving bias or conflict of interests?

Think about it! Of course the celebrities would advocate for LGBTQ+ causes…. the whole industry are full with LGBTQ+ people. The actors/ actresses/ make-up artists/designers/models…. most of them are among LGBTQ+ people or sympathetic to their causes. When you are part of that environment, it is a matter of your own career survival to support it! Even if you think their stand does not make sense but knowing that you are going to closely work with them in advancing your career, of course you would not go against the tide! And now their voice becomes the influential one even though it makes no sense!

The religious, conservative voice has not always been a small voice. Something had happened, FIRST. And that something was the silence of the majority when the movement of LGBTQ+ people were first gaining momentum. You did not control the fire before it engulfed the forest of your society. You did NOT propagate for the truth when you had the chance! You were too scared that other people would label you as ‘backward, transphobic, dumb over-religious Christians’ etc etc. And so you kept your silence. You thought “Well, let them do whatever they want because it would not affect me at all.” You didn’t realize that when they grew in numbers they would start demanding for their rights that would eventually oppress your own rights. But then you woke up… and suddenly LGBTQ+ rights overpowered your own rights! By the time you realized it, it was too late.

And all because religious, conservative people in the West were too timid and passive and complacent; they did not do their best to speak up for the truth when they had the chance.

This hopefully will NEVER happen in Muslim-majority countries. Because compared to Christians in the West, Muslims are MORE practicing. That is a fact. Christianity may be the number one religion in terms of numbers. But in terms of practicing, most Muslims are more practicing of their religion and we follow the tenets of our Quran. Most of my Australian friends are cultural Christians….rather than religious Christians. They celebrate Christmas and occasionally go to Church especially for weddings and baptism but most of them do not even know their whole Bible cover to cover. Yes, they are cultural Christians rather than religious Christians!

Whereas most Muslims practice beyond the superficial aspects of having a Muslim name or eating halal food or celebrating Eid. We pray 5 times a day… some of us even offer more non-obligatory prayers in between. That is a lifetime commitment until the day we die. That is serious love and serious faith, folks. Most of us have read the Quran cover to cover MULTIPLE TIMES throughout our lives and we knew the message in the Quran. A practicing Muslim would NEVER say “Yeah… I don’t really have an opinion about LGBTQ+. I don’t really care.” trying to give a safe politically-correct answer to anyone who asks. Because the Quran is VERY clear about this and a practicing Muslim would never go against what the Quran says!

But some of my Australian friends who claim that they are Christians can actually support LGBTQ+ people by saying “God is loving!” or they would say “The Bible is an ancient document. Some of the verses can be interpreted differently. I am sure God loves everyone regardless of which gender they identify with.”. (Seriously, what is this? Please note that MOST religious Christians who are strict and faithful would NEVER support LGBTQ+ too. Only the cultural Christians can be found giving wishy washy statement like this. Unfortunately, in the West, even the religious Christians were subdued by the LGBTQ+movement. The policies and laws of their countries have now totally changed because when the religious Christians had the chance, they did NOT counter-propagate and counter-narrate!) My questions to these cultural Christians are, “What… when God revealed the Bible in the ancient time did He not know the future… that there would be a group of LGBTQ+ people in this world? As an All-knowing God, wouldn’t He have known about the future existence of LGBTQ+ people and so would tailor the laws in the scripture to include them if He wanted to show his approval of them? But no… he made the law clear against homosexuality anyway, regardless of His all-encompassing knowledge about the future! So maybe, the law REALLY is clear and is supposed to be upheld for ALL time. You think God changes His laws and commandments with time? Did you receive a new revised version of the Bible from God that includes approval of LGBTQ+ people? Do you have any evidence regarding that? So if you don’t, why did you assume that just because God is loving, then LGBTQ+ is approved in your religion and the law has changed now? Perhaps it is EXACTLY because God is loving that He had made the laws clear for you in order to protect you and your society. But you choose to create grey areas out of something clear in order to justify your own conflict of interests and your lust! And then you talk about a loving God. A loving and compassionate God would also uphold justice based on the clear laws that He had revealed. Because there is no compassion without justice.”

There is NO COMPASSION without justice. Is it just that women must compete with transwomen in sports? Is it fair that religious conservative women that make up the majority of the society must always wear tudung and cover their aurat when a transwoman are placed in their ward?

My liberal friend had said “She is already a woman. She is not interested to look at your hair while in the ward! Please get over yourself. Poor them. They are just trying to be who they are.”

I was like, “First of all, he is not a woman biologically and genetically no matter what you said. That is just factual and biological. Please think like a doctor that you are. Secondly, we don’t cover ourselves because of anyone’s possible interest of looking at our hair or our body. We wear modest clothing because God asks us to do so. Even in front of a eunuch, we will cover ourselves to obey God. If you don’t believe in God, that’s okay… I don’t need you to believe what I believe. But you need to understand that the reality is… the policies and laws of the country will follow the religious sentiments of the majority. You can go to any country and you will find that the laws and policies of that country will be tailored to suit the culture of the majority. And so if we don’t fit in that country, the practical option is to get out of that country. Of course, you can try to advocate for change of laws in that country…. which would involve propagating to the people in that country to support your cause and inducing the people in that country to call their MPs to fight for your cause in the parliament so that the law would change in your favour. Yes… that’s what you are trying to do, I know. But do NOT expect other people to simply allow you to do that without them fighting back… and suddenly you want to manipulate the issue and cry as though you are a victim of transphobic/homophobic people. You want to change the law and influence public policies… be prepared to fight like an adult! Not like a cry baby! Debate us point by point instead of labelling us transphobic/homophobic and whatnots. When it comes to the place of trans people in a Muslim-majority society in wards/prisons/public toilets/sport events, it is not right for you to insist that we change our ways and belief system, (which happen to be the majority’s ways and belief system) in order to accommodate the feelings of a minority trans-women or trans-men who insist that they deserve to force their presence on us in gender-specific settings. If you are just going about doing your business without asking for official recognition or policy change, we would have let you be! But now, the game has changed because you decided to be loud and demanding! It is democratically wrong to sacrifice the rights of the majority for the sake of a minority. Until you can successfully propagate for the majority to support you and cause the law to change in your favour, you cannot force us to accept your view that trans people can be in our wards/prisons/public toilets just because they now identify themselves as the opposite gender. Trans women belong in male wards. And trans men belong in female wards. We respect your rights. But your rights are limited by other people’s rights based on the laws and policies of our country.”

Unfortunately in Malaysia, only Islam is doing the counter-propagating work against this moral sickness. Why? I feel like this is the time for us to have inter-faith cooperation to present a unified voice against LGBTQ+ stance. Where are the devout Christians of this country? Why aren’t you guys speaking up? Where are the devout Buddhist, Hindus and Sikh? Why are you guys silent? We have the weight of biological facts, and religious and moral and cultural tradition behind us and yet the silence is deafening! Why?! Are you guys so scared to be labeled backward? Takut terkena tempias ‘the dumb race’ like the Malays asyik kena just because we are much more willing to put ourselves out there and speak up about our shared truth?

Most religions in this world have the same values. But why are you guys not speaking up too?

Why do other religious leaders do not speak up when our shared values are being challenged? Brother Firdaus Wong questioned this to other religious leaders in this video.

Our Stand As A Doctor

In psychiatry, I have very clear ideas on how I will treat LGBTQ+ people in the context of Malaysia.

When they come to me, these are what I generally will do:

  1. Get a good history of the underlying mental illness (depression/anxiety/psychosis etc etc) that they presented with and treat them the way I treat any heterosexual cis-gender patients.
  2. If their LGBTQ+ lifestyle is in any way influencing the severity of their underlying mental illness, again I need to get a good gender history. Is it homosexuality without any element of gender dysphoria? Is it transsexualism? Is it dual role transvestism? Is it fetishistic transvestism?
  3. Ask them: do they want to talk about it?
  4. Take blood investigations including hormone blood tests.
  5. Continue to give the usual bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of treatment that they should get.

But what I will NOT do is voicing my approval of their lifestyle and sexual inclination. In our consultation with our patients, there is never any need for us to talk about our own belief system with the patient.

“But what if the patient asks you about what you think of his LGBTQ+ lifestyle?”

Well, I will simply ask the patient “Why do you want to know what I think about your LGBTQ+ lifestyle?” And we will manoeuvre and control the consultation from there.

I don’t have to answer such a question from my patient (or from anyone, if I don’t want to). The therapy session is about the patient, not about me. I am NOT supposed to talk about what I think about anything in the therapy session. Boundaries must be there between me and my patient. I will simply steer the consultation into analyzing why does she/he want to know about what I think? Is it because in general, they always want people’s approval in everything they do and would become dysphoric when people don’t approve of them? I will analyze whether or not the patient’s need for society’s approval is the root cause of his/her dysphoric mood. And I will ask the patient questions that will help them understand their own feelings by challenging their cognitive distortions“If you really believe that LGBTQ+ lifestyle is right for you, why should you care about what other people think? Is it realistic to expect others to approve of your lifestyle if they don’t? Is it wise to put other people’s approval or your therapist’s approval of your lifestyle as a condition to your happiness and satisfaction in life? If your happiness is dependent on other people approving your choices in life, then it will be difficult for you to be happy. No one can agree with you 100% in all matters, 100% of the time. And you need to be okay with that. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to be happy.”

See? As a doctor, there is NO NEED for me to talk about my belief system with any of my LGBTQ+ patients. The therapy session is not about me. It is about them! So as a therapist, we stick to getting them to talk about them! Not about us!

“But what if they ask your opinion about gender reassignment surgery?”

Again, I will not talk about my opinion. I will present them with the technical facts of the matter. The law in Malaysia is not in my control and if they have any issue with the law of the country, they can speak to their MPs or their lawyers. And with regards to gender reassignment surgery, I will tell them that even in the Western countries, people will have to live as the opposite gender for at least two years before any gender reassignment surgery will be performed. I will talk about the side effects of hormonal therapy and the permanent implication of the gender reassignment surgery. My opinion does not need to enter the picture here. I will present them with the facts and they can do with the facts whatever they like.

But again, there will NEVER be a time when I will EVER indicate my approval for gender reassignment surgery. Because as a Muslim, I DO NOT BELIEVE it is right and I am always going to be a Muslim first before I am a doctor. In my religion saying something that is wrong in Islam as right can cause me to be a murtad! And I rather give up my job than giving up being a Muslim. (This is because unlike other religions, Islam has a fail-safe mechanism of protecting the values of the religion. Islam protects us from deviating from the truth by asking us: Do you want society’s approval or do you want to become a Muslim? Do you want to submit to society’s pressure or do you want to submit to God and be a Muslim? If you want to be a Muslim, speak up for the truth regardless of what the society says. So as a Muslim, we don’t have a choice of pretending that we approve something that is against the values of the religion. Because it will cause us to be a murtad if we say something that is wrong in the religion as right, or vice versa. We have to speak the truth of our religious values and not give in to societal pressure if we want to remain a Muslim.)

If there ever come a time when (God forbid!) LGBTQ+ people become so powerful in Malaysia (like in the West) that they can force Muslim doctors to approve of their lifestyle or else our license to practice will be revoked, I would rather give up my career than renouncing the values of my religion! But heck, I won’t do it without a fight first!

In my professional life, I am a doctor who keep my religious opinion to myself when dealing with my patients. Because like I said, the therapy session is about them! Not about me! But in my personal life, in my blog, in my social media, I am always going to be a Muslim first and then a Malaysian and lastly a doctor. (Being a doctor is not the most important or worthy aspect of my life. And frankly speaking, if any doctor feels like his/her career is the most worthy aspect of his/her life ABOVE ANYTHING ELSE, that is kind of sad, really!) And as a Muslim and as a Malaysian, I reserve my rights to speak up for the truth as I see it. LGBTQ+ people are not the only ones with freedom of speech. In fact, the law in Malaysia STILL says that homosexuality act is illegal and a crime. So, my point of view is perfectly in line with the law of the country.

If any of you have any issue with the law of the country, take it up with your MPs and your lawyers. And go on and propagate for your causes. But you will be disappointed if you expect that people will simply fall in line to agree with you. Everyone and every group has their own agenda and all of us will fight for our respective causes. So stop playing the victim card when you don’t have facts on your side! Fight like an adult! Not like a cry baby who expects people to change their opinions or sugarcoat facts and reality just so their feelings won’t be hurt! J.K Rowling has every right to state her opinion that the term “women” are more appropriate than the term “people who menstruate”, so if you are hurt by her opinion, maybe you should try to develop some maturity and simply agree to disagree without resorting to labelling her.

Ideological wars have been going on since time immemorial. And it will never stop till the end of time.

Book of the Month

The book I am excited to write a review about is The Persuaders: The Hidden Industry That Wants To Change Your Mind authored by James Garvey.

After reading this book, I was blown away by so many things I didn’t know about how our reality perception can be manipulated by PR firms and advertisement companies. I will never look at any statement, advertisement, campaign and propaganda in the same way again.

I have always been a pretty skeptical person especially when I am faced with a new thought or a new idea or a new philosophy. But I am also pretty skeptical of anything traditional or conservative that does not have any evidence for it too. (I have mentioned before that I could insist to have bihun goreng and Coca-Cola rather than pulut kuning and air sirap for my khatam Quran ceremony hahha. If there is no logical or moral basis for a certain tradition, I have no problem asserting my freedom of choice or opinion). So I am neither a conservative nor a liberal. I am a realist, I think. I just want to know the facts, first. I just want to know the truth. I guard my mind jealously against any new philosophical idea because I don’t want to be misled in life. All new ideas must be analyzed and filtered very carefully before I will integrate them officially into my life philosophy or my worldview. Once they have been integrated into my life philosophy and my worldview, very rarely do I change my mind. Win my mind with facts and reasoning… then you will get me to behave according to the convincing facts and ideas that you have presented.

I rarely make impulsive decision or an impromptu purchase. I will NOT do something until I have thoroughly weighed the pros and cons of doing something. At times, this characteristic trait that I have can be pretty troublesome because I will be caught in a situation of decision paralysis. In things that matter, I want to know everything or almost everything before I feel like I can make an informed decision.

It takes a LOT for a person to be able to change my mind about anything. Because before I have come to a decision on any particular topic in the first place, I had thought long and hard about it. And if you can change my mind after that, wow… you either must be very good at facts manipulation or you must have spoken a compelling truth that left me with no choice but to submit to the truth!

In this book, I learned that once upon a time, people placed a lot of emphasis on reasoning and logical thinking. It was a time when advertisement industry and PR firms were not yet around. The intellectual culture, and the effect of the Renaissance enlightenment were a dominant presence back then and very profoundly felt. People organized debates in clubs all over the country (in the UK) to examine facts and contexts of any issue. Debates became a source of entertainment in pubs/salons at that time (circa 1700s). People cultivated oratory skills and nurtured their intellect the way our people currently cultivate superficial beauty and hedonistic lifestyle.

But around the early 1900s… something changed. We found out that we can influence people faster and more effectively by bypassing their brain and manipulating their psychology. It started around the time when the tobacco industry wanted to sell cigarettes to women. At that time, only men smoked tobacco and for women to smoke in public was taboo. A PR firm was hired to create a campaign for getting women to smoke. They associated the act of public smoking by women with the suffragette movement of women’s equal rights and freedom. They hired a lot of young women to light “the torch of freedom” (the cigarette was the torch and lighting it symbolised freedom) while walking on Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday.

(When you think logically, how does smoking in public is in any way connected to fighting for women’s freedom? If you REALLY want to fight for freedom of women, why light a cigarette? Why not propagate using facts and call your MPs to fight for your cause in the parliament and distribute flyers to the public?)

Initially the sales of cigarettes among women were very small. But after they “SYMBOLIZED” cigarettes with women’s freedom, the sales of cigarettes among women rose exponentially. Suddenly women who felt they were oppressed chose to light a cigarette thinking they were exercising their freedom of choice without knowing that they were also damaging their lungs in the process! The tobacco companies happily laughed their way to the bank!

The same strategy is employed until now. That is the basis of celebrity endorsement of any product. If the celebrity is beautiful and famous, then of course the product that she/he endorses will be good too, people think. Without looking at any ingredient or analysing the process of how the product is made, people simply buy the products. Not because they know all the facts about the product… but because they have associated the beauty of the celebrity with the product.

By associating certain generally good concept like love/freedom/justice/empowerment with LGBTQ+ people (instead of associating it with promiscuity or hedonism, for example), a stronger support could be garnered for the LGBTQ+ causes. So you will find a lot of slogans saying things like “It’s all about love. It’s about inclusivity. It’s about tolerance. It’s about freedom to love anyone we want.” Suddenly, whatever biological and scientific facts are thrown out of the window. Let alone moral consideration and societal norms! Their psychology has been tricked into thinking that something is good/right/okay when it is (manipulatively) associated with universally-approved concept like love/freedom/justice/empowerment. (This is Pavlovian application at its best. The dog no longer salivated to the food… but to the bell that signified the arrival of the food… even when the food did not arrive in the end.)

When it comes to product marketing, when you associate your brand with prestige and elegance and wealth, people will buy your product more. Remember the Dunhill slogan “Dunhill… gaya, mutu, keunggulan.” Hahha. (Think about it logically? Dunhill is just a name for a brand. Whether or not Dunhill embodied ‘gaya, mutu, keunggulan’ was never an established fact. The advertisement company simply create that association for the consumers… and the consumers flock to it thinking that they too will have those qualities of gaya, mutu, keunggulan when using any Dunhill product. In the end, it’s all just associations and slogans!) Now advertisement is no longer about promoting your products in a factual manner … but by giving your products the right kind of symbolism, slogans and association. And they keep repeating the slogans, symbolisms, and associations ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Take the dUCk hijabs, for example. Even if the customers can see that the pattern of the hijab is not that great and the material is not supposed to be this pricey, but they still buy the product at such an exorbitant price just because they have associated the brand with what they aspire to become in terms of wealth, elegance and prestige. So now advertisement is all about using celebrities, and associating certain symbols to the product. They bypass your reasoning and your cognition and instead appeal to your unconscious psychological longing for love/freedom/justice/wealth/ prestige.

And the amazing thing is, it works!

Because apparently, reasoning with people won’t change their minds, according to this book. Or even if reasoning does change people’s minds, the route to that is longer and harder and the result is not always guaranteed. How many times have we debated a certain issue back and forth with one another only to end up sticking to our original stance anyway? So these days, most persuaders have discarded the method of appealing to your reason. Instead they use symbolism, associations, emotionalism…. and they find that many people are willing to let their brains be hijacked unresistingly.

Let’s associate the wearing of hijab by Muslim women as oppression instead of as a sign of devotion to God and religion.

Want oil from Iraq? Let’s create a story of how Saddam Hussein was a bad dictator and how the American people were going to free the people of Iraq from his dictatorship. Saddam is associated with everything bad. American soldiers are associated with being saviors and heroes! (When actually during the reign of Saddam Hussein the people of Iraq were more prosperous than now. )

Let’s associate religious people with stupidity and irrationality even though there are many religious scientists all over the world who know why they believe what they believe and that it makes more scientific sense to believe that the world is created by God than to believe that the world comes from nothing.

Let’s be like Emma Watson and repeatedly say that transwomen are women and transmen are men and “trans people are just who they say they are”. Because studies have shown that if you repeat a lie enough times, people start to believe it! What a scary world we are living in, don’t you think?

This book also has taught me how the social media can be used to manipulate our perception and swing votes during election or referendum like Brexit!

We are living in a world that makes it hard for us to know what to believe anymore.

Have you heard about Cambridge Analytica? It was a political consulting firm that used data mining from social media like Facebook to influence the US 2016 election. When the scandal was discovered, all hell broke loose. You can read all about it from Wikipedia ‘Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal’. And if you have Netflix, I do recommend for you to watch the documentary by the title of The Great Hack! You will be blown away at how our perception of the reality can be manipulated by the social media when an invisible entity is controlling what we see in our newsfeed.

A documentary in Netflix! Do check it out, guys!

So, I really recommend you guys to read this book and I promise you that you will be more conscious of how your brain is being manipulated at the end of the book!

I give this book 4.75 stars out of 5! I love it!

I was so lucky that I got this book at a Blockbuster price of RM18 only! It was originally sold at a price of more than RM50. That is the advantage of having a regular habit of going to bookstores. You get to grab the best books at the best prices.

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us with His guidance in finding the truth and may Allah give us strength to speak up for the truth that we had painstakingly found.

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