“Tabula rasa – the mind is a blank slate written on by experience “
Every child is believed to be a tabula rasa, a clean slate; which is why the most notorious criminals often surprise the public with unthinkable acts, making us wonder what drove them to commit such heinous crimes. Ted Bundy, an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar and necrophile attributed his actions to his traumatic childhood – his early days were mostly spent with his abusive grandfather in the absence of his biological father. J.K. Rowling also cleverly illustrated how Voldemort’s childhood shaped him into the individual he was. Born out of a Love Potion, he lacked maternal love and spent his younger days in an institution where power and coercion were omnipresent, finally convincing him that power was the only thing he needed.
Being a curious lot, Malaysian Medic International: Malaysia ventured into the art of deciphering criminal minds with the help of a few professionals on the 9 th and 10th of June at the International Medical University, Bukit Jalil campus. The event of MMI Mental Health: A Novel Approach encompassed keynotes, workshops, research presentation and panel discussion.
The first day involved exploring childhood events via keynote topics of Freudian and Erikson in a nutshell; cognitive, social and emotional development; attachment and divorce; and personality development and adverse childhood events. On the second day, we attempted to fathom criminal minds and criminal acts; trauma, torture and post-traumatic stress disorder; forensic psychology and finally the power of positive psychology. A myriad of workshops followed suit – substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide risk assessment. As art is increasingly popular in medicine as a therapeutic tool, we incorporated fields like dance, art and drama into our therapy workshops alongside cognitive behavioural therapy. We then concluded the first day with workshops such as clinical hypnosis, positive psychology and even laughter yoga!
These workshops proved to be the highlight of the event, or shall I say the ticket sales X-factor as we exceeded our target crowd with 123 participants in total! The research presentation was carried out on the second day in a closed setting to allow participants to interact with the judges without inhibition. The top ten will soon have their abstracts published in the Malaysian Journal of Medicine so do check it out when the new edition comes out. We had three distinguished guest speakers for our panel discussion; a family medicine specialist, a psychiatrist and an obstetrician and gynaecologist discuss issues revolving around perinatal mental health – frankly speaking, a misunderstood cultural norm. Of course, all these would not have been possible without the collaboration with the Student Representative Council of International Medical University.
MMI Malaysia greatly appreciates any form of help directly and indirectly from the student body of International Medical University. This inaugural mental health summit is really one of its kind as we transcended boundaries and discussed about one of the most controversial topics. This event has sparked the participants’ interest in unconventional forms of therapy and mental health itself. It was also a great networking opportunity for the therapists to go out there and speak to the crowd about what they do best. For us at MMI, that was more than what we had hoped for and with that, MMI Mental Health: A Novel Approach is a wrap.