Aghaye Doctor blows minds
Dr. Farhang Holakouee has become a prophet of sorts -- and a benevolent
January 30, 2003
There is a new Iranian celebrity in Los Angeles. This one does not sing, nor
does he dance. He doesn't appear on Iranian television shows, and he is too old to
be a Pop icon. But he has an army of followers who revere his every word and turn
to him for guidance.
He is Farhang Holakouee, simply referred to as "Aghaye Doctor" by countless
radio listeners who tune into his daily show every day in Los Angeles.
Dr. Holakouee runs a daily two-hour
program that attempts to answer callers' questions regarding marriage, parenting,
and even deeper psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. In between,
and through his responses to callers, he also disperses advice on topics ranging
as wide as handling Iranian mothers-in-laws to the nature of God and humanity.
After nearly two years on the radio and countless conferences (which he conducts
around the city) you would expect he, like many other overnight sensations in this
town, would slowly fall out of favor and be a side show to the life of Iranians here
in Southern California. But passage of time only seems to have widened his reach
and deepened his influence.
There is now few others who command the respect and authority that he enjoys. And
this respect and sense of authority is no fluke. His knowledge of Iranian culture
and both its negative as well as positive effects on the psyche of Iranians is deep.
He dissects the words, emotions and motivations of his Farsi-speaking callers sometimes
with the precision of a surgeon, sometimes with compassion of a father and quite
often with a brutality that feels like a kick in the gut.
On a normal day, he cautions parents on the absolute necessity of allowing their
offspring space and autonomy, admonishes couples on accepting the realities of marriage
away from foolish wide-eyed ignorance of their parents' generation and then snaps
at those who avoid responsibility for their own actions.
At the same time Holakouee interjects and peppers his discussion with psychological
analyses that brings mental health into Iranian community not as stigma-ridden issue
but as a real topic in need of constant attention and education.
Dr. Holakouee, who has a thriving side business conducting
group conferences for the young and old, is not universally liked. There are many
in the community who abhor his iconic rise and cannot wait for his overthrow. His
prescriptions for avoiding many Iranian traits which he calls false and deceitful,
and his in-your-face criticism of traditional Iranian thinking has alienated many
hardcore traditionalists who find him vulgar and disruptive.
Add his leadership qualities, which has put fear into the mind of those who link
him to political aspirations. This fear briefly came to fruition recently when "Aghaye
Doctor" organized the most comprehensive, orderly and effective demonstration
of Iranians in Los Angeles against the detention of Iranians for alleged immigration
And although his actions brought calls from around the world for more active political
involvement, he quickly returned to what he did best, administering psychotherapy
to the masses thru the radio.
Holakouee's story is still in development, but his is worth following closely. Every
week, 30-40 callers willingly offer their most intimate issues on the radio for him
to analyze and Iranians of greater Los Angeles to listen.
And more often than not, he responds in a way that restores hope, demands justice,
criticizes falsehood and pushes his listeners to unmask the issues for what they
really are - a notion quite foreign to our culture and tradition. For this, he has
become a prophet of sorts and a benevolent one: a man who is very determined to overthrow
idols, cut through a myriad of cultural and social infections and get to the truth.
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