Siddiqui Diagnosed With Chronic Depression

Aafia Siddiqui ’95 was diagnosed with chronic depressive type psychosis, according to court documents released today. Siddiqui is the MIT alum and Brandeis PhD who disappeared mysteriously in Pakistan in 2003, and is married to alleged terrorist Amar Al-Baluchi, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Siddiqui was examined and first diagnosed with psychosis on Tuesday, Sept. 2 by Bureau of Prisons psychologist Dr. Diane McLean, according to a letter yesterday from the warden of Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center to Judge Richard M. Berman. Siddiqui “reported depressed mood, anxiety, ruminative thoughts concerning her son’s welfare, poor sleep, and moderate appetite.” The letter also describes a hallucination: “She also reported seeing her daughter in her cell, and was unable to apply appropriate reality testing to this phenomenon.”

Siddiqui politely declined to receive psychotropic drugs, the letter said.

Judge Berman ordered a physical examination of Siddiqui by a female doctor last week Thursday, after a hearing which discussed, among other things, Siddiqui’s refusal to meet with her court-appointed lawyer, Elizabeth M. Fink. Siddiqui refused that physical examination on Friday, Sept. 5.

On Monday, Judge Berman ordered a psychiatric examination. According to the warden’s letter, Siddiqui was reexamined on Tuesday Sept. 9. She was again diagnosed with depressive type psychosis, this time chronic, by Dr. McLean. Siddiqui spoke through a blanket she held over her head, and, speaking “politely,” said, “I do not want to kill myself.” The letter said that Siddiqui has been subject to routine mental health check-ups ten times in August and six times so far in September.

Elaine Whitfield Sharp, Siddiqui’s Boston-area lawyer, described the diagnosis as “to be expected.” Sharp described Siddiqui as “heartbroken,” a mother separated from her children and then held in prison.

Sharp said that Siddiqui was having a “normal human reaction to what’s going on.”