CAIRO – 6 May 2021: Egyptian drama has recently moved towards portraying mental health issues with more respect, compassion and accuracy, according to both psychiatrists and psychotherapists.
"Khalli Balek Men Zizi" is one of many Egyptian Ramadan series that are currently screened on MBC, and has gained great attention from audience across the Arab World as it discusses important psychological problems. The series was praised for mainly tackling the Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for both adults and children.
et interviewed Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal and Psychotherapist Zeyad Essam, who looked deeply into the series characters, analyzing how their mental health is connected with parenting behaviors.
Zizi (Starred by Actress Amina Khalil)
Always seen as a trouble maker and an irresponsible person by others, Zizi grew up with a feel of rejection, ruling out she could succeed in any task or relationship. Her excess energy was neither medically diagnosed nor contained by her parents, who used to lock her up as a solution, and never heeded her screams and bangs.
Since then, Zizi has created her own defense mechanism of bad temper and loud voice whenever she feels shunned and criticized. Only after a late diagnosis of ADHD, Zizi found answers to why she is “different” and reasons to her usual impulsiveness, low concentration and frequent mood swings.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal believes that Zizi presents a logical development of ADHD for adults, who were not treated at a younger age, thus suffering from disturbed self-image, irresponsibility and low self-confidence. However, he explains that adults with ADHD might not go very wild as presented in the series except in rare cases, while that hyperactivity is clear and evident mainly in children.
“Rapid bad temper is a logical consequence for ADHD patients who revolve in vicious circles, starting with lack of focus, then feeling distressed due to incomplete information, then acting intolerantly and repel people around them,” Galal said.
Mourad (Starred by Mohamed Mamdouh)
Mourad’s character appeared as a high social standard lawyer who is always helpful and supportive to Zizi, as well as other clients, including, celine (Starred by Nadine) whom he helped get divorced.
Psychotherapist Ziad Essam believes Mourad’s personality appears repeatedly in our lives, as he represents the person who likes to stay in the grey area without setting boundaries in his relations with women, and expectedly running away from commitment.
“Mourad has low self-esteem, that’s why he covers up this with what he is good at, his job, and his nice attitude with his female clients, who in return feel attracted to him, is what feeds his confidence,” said Psychotherapist Essam.
However, as the series’ events evolve, Mourad’s character appear in the latest episodes to have genuinely evolved feelings for Zizi, his former client, and to have found peace and beauty in her “different” personality.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal says that the character building emerges from the author’s creativity, who decides whether Mourad matures by true love, or the audience will see a twist at the end.
Nelly (Starred by Noha Abdin)
Zizi’s cousin and her best friend, who absorbs her bad temper and helps her manage her anger. Suffering from phobia herself, Nancy was not treated from her persistent fear of being alone, and from darkness.
Phobias can appear in childhood by the age of 10, and can occur later in life, especially with persons who have family history of phobia.
“Children until the age of 5 do not usually fear anything,” said Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal. He explained that a child might develop irrational fear of darkness only when punished in a dark room, watch related content on TV or see parents afraid of darkness.
He further noted that this irrational fear does not necessarily continue until adulthood; however, it happens that adults develop fear of different things, like water or insects...etc.
Hisham (Starred by Aly Kassem)
Hisham is Zizi’s ex-husband, a decent, calm professor, who was attracted to Zizi’s hyperactivity, and believed she filled a gap in his life.
“Hisham is a person with little life experience, making him resort to his older brother to solve his problems, although they both have different ways in dealing with things,” said Psychotherapist Ziad Essam.
Essam believes that Hisham is a normal person and when he fails to cope with Zizi’s speed and impulsiveness, he retreats. “He made a mistake by entering a new relationship without giving himself a chance to assess his experience,” he added,
Zizi’s mother (Starred by Safaa el-Toukhy)
Nariman is a typical over-qualified woman married to a less intellectual man she does not even love.
“Women like Nariman exist a lot, with many seeking divorce at the age of 60 after retirement, as they find themselves spending much time with their partners, where there is more space and time for conflicts,” Psychotherapist Ziad Essam said.
A clue scene in the series was when Zizi blamed her mother Nariman for her suffering, while Nariman backfired saying that she did not want to be pregnant (with Zizi), which made her feel stuck with a marriage she did not want, explaining why she (Nariman) was always angry with Zizi.
“I was happy I gave birth to a girl, who was supposed to be tender and kind, and comfort me, but I gave birth to a monster that preyed on me everyday, everyday you break, fight and vandalize,” Nariman tells Zizi.
Tito ‘Atiyat’ (Starred by Reem Abdel Kader)
Both Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal and Psychotherapist Ziad Essam agreed that Tito's character has given an on-point portrayal of a child with ADHD, given her being overly active and having problems with paying attention.
Tito loved her old school in Mansoura city, where she used to get good grades due to her father’s connections. Her weak educational level only was clear when she was moved to another school in Cairo, against her will, triggering her hyperactivity and bad temper against her peers and teachers.
The series spotlighted a problem that parents fall in by taking decisions without considering its consequences on their children.
“You do everything without asking me…now you want to take me there again [to the old school] without asking me.. and I have to obey your orders without you even knowing what I want to do.. you always think you are right although you change your minds,” Tito faces her parents in a master scene.
Zizi was assigned as a shadow teacher to Tito, as an ADHD child, where they both develop a close friendship based on trust and compassion. Their relationship has triggered Tito’s mother jealousy, as she found her daughter attracted to Zizi, and wanting to spend most of the time with her.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Galal explains that people with mental health disorders sometimes resort to “mature defense mechanisms,” where they offer help to other people with similar conditions, which raises their self-confidence.
However, Galal advised that a relationship like the one between Zizi and Tito should be medically supervised. “Parents of children with mental health disorders should be part of the treatment process so they understand the right way to deal with their children.”