Mental Health: Expecting Different Results

"Fairy tales are nice." ~ Syd Barrett  (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006)

Most of us will have had some interface or experience with the inhuman practices that go on in the name of mental health treatment. We have heard of patients shackled to their beds being burnt to death, we have heard of rape and abuse, and we have heard about the horrors of addiction treatment methods. Most of us would have also experienced the stigma and the shame attached to mental health issues in a social setting. The combination of these two – a poor understanding of mental health and an ill-equipped, verging on abusive treatment environment - make a perfect recipe for tragedy. And this tragedy plays out in a million lives – both in the afflicted, and in the affected – every single day in our country.

One of the compulsions that made me step away from my life in the helping profession was my inability to understand or agree with traditional models of mental illness and its treatment. In many discussions, I have been branded an escapist, preferring to stay away rather than commit myself. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. In this post, which was originally started on the birthday of Thelonious Monk (which coincidentally is also World Mental Health Day- Google it) and completed on International Women’s Day (coincidence, purely, trust me), I share my thoughts on this topic by looking at three examples that will be familiar to most readers. This is a post that got written very, very slowly, and to allow our understanding to develop, I would invite you to read it slowly too.

We are all searching for our center; it is just that some people need to travel far and wide before they get there.


I must acknowledge my indebtedness to Aarathi Selvan and NVL Satish for helping me to clarify my thinking, for reading and suggesting edits to this post, and for sharing their expert understanding of the subject at hand. I am also inspired by the writing of Indu Chibber and Surabhi Surendra who tirelessly promote a better understanding of mental health through their blogs.

Are You Mentally Healthy?


The etymological root of the word “health” is shared by the words “whole” and “holy.” The World Health Organization defines it as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In the case of “mental” health, the WHO defines it as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

Leaving aside physiological and organic disorders of the mind, which easily and universally fit into this definition, one then wonders why the understanding of mental health differs from culture to culture and across periods of time. The answer lies in the fact that the general understanding of mental health closely overlaps the “clinical definition” but adds the concept of normative behavior to it.


Take the example of cellular telephony. Fifty years ago, it was abnormal to be walking on city streets holding a metal bar to your ear and talking apparently to yourself. Today, to be surprised at people doing the same thing is considered abnormal (unless you are Mowgli, that is). Women wearing “men’s clothing” was considered abnormal in India till not too long back. Now you have men wearing women’s clothes and attending social events telecast on prime time television.

The cornerstone here is the word normal. The word comes from norm, that which is most widely accepted. The normative control that society exerts on individual behavior is important because of its contribution to roles and classes. Have roles and classes helped us as a species? Of course, yes, but have they also harmed us? We stray into altogether different and controversial territory here. Let us come back to the question of who is mentally healthy.

Take this definition - "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community,” – and apply it to yourself in all honesty and see if you pass muster. Each one of us is constantly in a state that would be termed poor mental health by this definition. We are constantly trying to overreach our abilities, struggling to cope with the stresses of life, constantly searching for that magic formula for productivity and fruitfulness, and more often than not, agents of conflict to ourselves and to our communities.

By definition, at least, most of human behavior today would fall in the realm of mentally unhealthy. Don’t let that get you down, because the problem really lies elsewhere.

Is Normal Natural?


Nature abhors uniformity, and it is visible not only in the diversity of species and natural conditions, but in the infinite variations that are built into the genetic code of all living beings. For structure and stability, society has always looked upon “the norm” with partiality typically reserved for firstborns. As we continue in our journey of being a civilization, we have learned to acknowledge the differences among people even if grudgingly. We have made room for gays and atheists, anticonsumerists and politicians, Shiv Sena and the social media, and we have built into our penal code the right to legal defense even for the openly and obviously guilty. Men keeping home and women wearing the pants are now considered a sign of being liberated and modern rather than of deviance. Yet at the bottom of our hearts, we are as visceral as any other species, suggesting that our women get married in their teens so that they stay out of trouble, blaming working women for broken homes, and getting all defensive about mother-in-laws or sister-in-laws intruding on our “territory.” I stray again.

Mental health needs to be seen in the perspective of this contradiction. We have tampered with the balance of nature in every way possible in the name of science, progress and modernity. We are already seeing the impact of this tampering in disrupted food chains, new and drug-resistant diseases, unpredictable climatic changes and weather patterns, and a rapidly disintegrating social fabric, but the whole impact is yet to be seen. One of the trends we are also seeing is the rising incidence of diagnoses of mental illness. What we are witnessing in all of this is really the battle between human intellect and the wisdom of natural evolution.

A disclaimer before proceeding. The advances of science are of critical importance in the evolution of our civilization and what I am saying in no way discounts the respect that that progress demands. However, emerging models of understanding psychosocial behavior need to take into consideration the natural tendency toward diversity vis-à-vis the social insistence on conformity as a measure of normalcy. Would we as a species have been any worse off without the bipolarity of Beethoven, Newton, Hemingway, or Virginia Woolf? Would we have missed Syd Barett, Charlie Parker, or Thelonious Monk? Should we have settled for medicated goo instead, say, from the minds of Van Gogh, Woody Allen or Akira Kurosawa? Or should we just sweep all of the work of so called mentally ill genii under the carpet of labels?

How to Judge Mental Illness?


It is a complex question, one which has to be tempered by reason. The question really is what the touchstone of that reason should be? Should it be protecting the patient and those around him from the harmful effects of mental illness? Should it be empowering the mentally ill to “fit in” to a society that has redefined normal every couple of decades? I do not claim to have an answer. The need to diagnose and treat the criminally insane cannot be disputed, neither can the need to provide compassionate access to learning methods to those with learning impairments. But where does one draw the line between individual uniqueness and the need for conformity?

How does one develop an understanding of mental disease that embraces the wisdom of modern medical science and the compassion and dignity that every human is entitled to? I do not claim to have the answer, but I do know that conventional models of understanding mental illness have proved to be hopelessly inadequate. Perhaps one way forward would be to examine instances and see how we can explain them in humane terms. Three facets of mental illness come to mind readily – 1) disorders attributed to family of origin issues, 2) attention deficit disorders, and 3) addiction and alcoholism.

1. Family of Origin


During my time as a clinician, the next big thing after Prozac was the concept of dysfunctional families. As I have grown in my understanding of family systems, I have come to see that there is perhaps no family that can claim to be fully functional. Similarly, manic depressive criteria can be met by almost every human being on this planet to some extent or the other. The diagnostic benchmark of when it starts becoming a disorder or adversely impacting the ability to function in a social setting is a highly subjective one. Instead of seeking to transcend the handicap of an inadequate upbringing, entire generations have chosen to act out their vitriol or melancholy, happy to blame it on their family of origin issues. For a lot of my friends, this has allowed them to carry on with their weird and self defeating ways without feeling remorse or discomfort. The mental health profession has not protested much either.

Mom with plastic carry bag as headgear. And she is among saner ones in our family!

How does one “label” a person with family of origin issues like shame or guilt, or rage, or self defeating cycles of relationships? How does one offer a course of “treatment?” It helps at this juncture to see that the aspect of an individual’s insight into his psycho-social framework is an evolutionary one. The task of the clinician (or family members, friends, mentors, and educators) is to help the individual see that his behaviour is caused by an impaired understanding of his developmental learning. It is especially difficult to address learning that has taken place in the early years, when there was no “adult” filter to sort out the valid learning from the invalid, but through the tools of regression, meditation, and study, it is possible to revisit the scripts that were written then, review them in the light of data available in the present, and rewrite them.

For those who are spiritually inclined, inviting the reparative forces within and around us can be of immense help. The mind and the body are amazing examples of the power of restoration, and just intending that things be restored can be the starting point of a journey of healing. Helping the individual understand the value of compassion is as critical as the “facilitator” being compassionate. Being able to see the behavior of the parents or caregivers as scripts that they, in turn, were compelled to act out, can sometimes be the catalyst that helps a person realizes that he or she has the choice to stop perpetuating the so called “dysfunction.”

2. Attention Deficit


It is my misfortune that awareness of attention deficit as a disorder was scant when I was growing up, or else I would have got to try out Ritalin and other similar drugs much earlier than I eventually did. :)

Jokes aside, somewhere in the last three decades, kids stopped being naughty, absent-minded or plain inattentive and instead got labeled as mentally ill. As a species, our brains are evolving faster and faster, and with each successive generation, the environment one is born into is evolving even faster. This places high demand on the human brain to keep pace. Two things happen as a result. Firstly, children are being born with a “neurology” that is more suited to the needs of the evolving environment than the previous generations. The second is that our existing systems and paradigms, in education, in parenting, do not have a suitable response to these changes. We do not know what to do with hyperactive students, or students who cannot focus. So in a way, (a way that is common to much of the body of knowledge that constitutes psychiatry) the problem is not with the kids, but with the world into which they are born which cannot handle their low attention spans (which, for all purposes, is really an expression of the ability to multitask more efficiently).

What we need to do is to encourage infants and toddlers to self occupy, to experience the satisfaction of completing complex tasks, and become responsible for “closing” what they have “opened.” A major factor here is modelling. If they do not see their parents or caregivers behaving in ways that are consistent with what they are being expected to follow, it is not going to work. This entails a bit of self-therapy for most parents, something that can be accomplished without much effort just by the power of love.

We also need to inspect why our teaching systems cannot accommodate the inattentive. We need to question why our education system has been corrupted into mass production facilities where individualism has no place. We need to ask why our teachers cannot teach children who are not middle-of-the-road. Maybe each one of us, as individuals, as parents, and as consumers and providers of the education industry need to rethink our contribution to this crisis. Are we creating mental illnesses to cover up for our inability to evolve humane social structures and systems? Are pharmaceutical giants helping or are they happy to see their pills fly from the shelves?

By medicating and creating compartments, we are ending up stifling the essential nature of the evolving human being. Perhaps we are even robbing our gene pool of the very things that we need to survive the future. These are difficult questions to answer with certainty. My layman status allows me to conjecture without any great consequence, but what if this line of thinking is correct? The extinction of the dinosaur was largely caused by its size. Will ours be caused by our neurological, pharmaceutical and business arrogance?

3. Addiction and Alcoholism


A similar case can be found in the case of addiction and alcoholism. By labeling it a disease and an incurable psychological handicap, millions of addicts and alcoholics have been subconsciously programmed to believe that they are compelled to act out their addictive cycle. The focus on alcohol use or drug use as the primary symptom allows many of them to resort to other self-destructive behaviors but be labeled as successful outcome by treatment professionals. The absence of a humane yet objective understanding of these behaviors causes an immense loss of human potential through needless incarceration, medication, and mistreatment.

How does one explain that addicts and alcoholics, who are often extremely intelligent, sensitive and creative people, repeatedly choose to inflict untold suffering on themselves and their loved ones? Why is it that the most successful model of treatment remains the nonmedical model of self help groups that is organized on the basis of spiritual self inspection and prayer and meditation? Instead of empowering the addict to exercise control and choice, the existing paradigms start by demolishing the myth of “choice.” At the end of the day, the individual who reclaims his life from the clutches of addiction is making a choice not to use drugs or drink or to act out his or other addictive compulsions. Yet this model – of choice, of volitional control, of reducing harm - is one that is looked down upon by traditionalists. Addicts and alcoholics who disagree with total abstinence models are branded as seriously unwell or indulging in unnecessary intellectual calisthenics, usually with a cautionary note that this is the beginning of a return to active addiction.

Being able to see addiction as an underlying quest for wholeness that the addict believes can be met through drinking or using drugs is not easy when you are in the grips of the insanity of addiction, either in yourself or in a loved one, yet that is the first and most essential step towards addressing the problem. The validity of the belief behind this quest is not as relevant as acknowledging the presence of such a belief system. Being able to see the process of addiction as effect that is simultaneously cause has to follow this insight into wholeness-emptiness. Helping the addict see the consequence of his behavior during rare moment s of clarity is the next step. Once again, creating intent to overcome this cycle of cause and effect can by itself marshal the resources that are needed to reach the now proverbial tipping point.

It helps to see that no human being would will himself to undergo the sufferings that addicts and alcoholics do. The other great misunderstanding is that the addictive process is pertinent only in the context of the particular drug, substance or behavior in question and that achieving an end to that behavior equals health. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The behavior of addiction is but a manifestation of a psycho-social or spiritual void, and failing to recognize and address that void will only result in ongoing and recurrent suffering. Appreciating the subtle interplay of causative factors and helping rewrite the script with compassion, understanding and forgiveness is the only way forward for complete health for most addictive systems.

Why are 80% of individuals seeking treatment for addiction repeat clients? Why do addiction professionals exclude the currently readmitted, the dead and those lost to follow up from their success rate computations? Why do they call it a success rate instead of failure rate when the worldwide realistic success rate is below 10%? Why are we bent upon pursuing the gold standard of conventional treatment methods when it has been documented to fail 9 times out of 10? I would ascribe it to lack of choice and clever marketing, but I am not sure I will be in the majority here. Does it bother me? Not at all. On the contrary, I feel fortunate.


Heal Your Self


Unlike other health articles that come with a disclaimer that it should not be construed as a replacement for or alternative to medical therapy, in this case I strongly suggest that we all make an effort to listen to our hearts first. The heart is never wrong. Of course, one must train to be able to distinguish what the heart says from what our insecurities or flawed belief systems say, and this can be achieved with a regular practice of, for want of a better phrase, spiritual discipline.
All of the psychosis and neurosis that we are bombarded with are nothing but the result of our alienation from our true nature. This has happened, perhaps unwittingly, in the process of modernization, urbanization and in the process of our core value being determined by our role as consumers, customers and markets.
 
We have forgotten that we were meant to be dewdrops of universal wonderment, songs of life and beauty, and rainbows that stitch hearts together. We have forgotten how to tap into the inner medic, the inner wise man, the inner parent. Modern medical and psychological models are of immense value in many cases, essential in many cases, but the solution for much of what is commonly understood as mental illness – our anxieties, depressions, stress disorders, and more complex phenomena like the three areas discussed here – really lies in our hands.

By adjusting our perspectives, by seeing ourselves as part of a greater organic whole and by making changes to our beliefs and lifestyles, we can experience a far more integrated sense of self that we can imagine. As we saw with normative behavior, if a sufficient number of us realize this and live accordingly, we might just have accomplished a true revolution in the field of mental health.

I would love to hear what you think and feel about this. Let us begin a dialog that will bring healing and wholeness to us as a people and as a planet.

16 comments:

  1. Very interesting point of view ! "Where does one draw the line between individual uniqueness and the need for conformity" - true. I have been thinking about this recently when somebody I knew very well started saying things, which were not logical or accepted 'normally'. Belief in things which did not have a scientific basis was not something I associated with this person and I was forced to re-evaluate conventionally accepted wisdom of sanity versus insanity using my preconceived notions of what I considered sane.

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    1. There can be some lines drawn between the rational and the irrational, but even that presupposes a common denominator body of knowledge. Galileo, Columbus, why, even Socrates have been placed on both sides of the rational divide by their societies in their very lifetimes.

      Most great mystics, too, have ultimately framed their exhortations within the limits of a reason known to them, it is our shortcoming if we cannot see that reason, not theirs. Thanks, Ash, for bringing this perspective into the discussion.

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  2. This is a post after my own heart,and very,very thought-provoking.
    A vast subject & difficult to contain in a comment.Moreover you have said all that was needed to be said.Today every new patient of mental health is branded with a new disease--Internet use disorder,Internet addiction,consumption addiction ,facebook depression etc.
    I read recently that a psychiatric medicine in fact causes suicidal or violent thoughts--so much so that a young mother rushed for help because she felt compelled to kill her own child,& it was the outcome of her medicines.
    Ithink you will like this link
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/empathic-psychotherapy-_b_924494.html

    And yes i felt humbled & honored to find my name in your post,thanks.

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    1. Having someone with your depth of understanding of mental health join this discussion has made all the effort in writing this piece worth it, Indu!

      Sweeping what we do not understand under a carpet of labels is not new, it happened before and after Freud and Jung, and it happens today. The lag between new ideas coming into academia and percolating through to clinicians is so much that it takes years for benefits to reach patients outside trials and studies.

      Moreover, the pharmacological approach to mental illness tends to be offered without taking the larger picture into consideration. I do not mean to discount the value of pharmacy in mental health at all, and as Bhavana comments, it is often the most vital key to wellness. Yet, it is often applied without regard for monitoring, for toxicity, for rebound, and for interaction with lifestyles and social and environmental triggers. I consider this irresponsible medicine.

      Tricyclics and SSRIs have had their share of bad press, and on top of that is the whole question of whether interfering with personal development is ethical or not? Yet, the fact remains that without them, we would have lost millions everyday to the demons of anxiety/depression.

      Worth it? Yes.

      Would I do it? No.

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  3. Very informative... I particularly enjoyed the question "Is normal natural?" and the answer.

    I have come across quite many people who are not at all normal (in the normal sense of the term) but are very interesting and creative.

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    1. Precisely, Tomichan. I would go a step further and claim that by standard diagnostic tools, it is possible to define almost everyone as not normal. This business of labeling that we are taught is scary. Why just normalcy? Rich. Poor. Happy. Polite. Educated. Dirty. Sexy. Try defining these as you would to a child, and see how ridiculous those definitions are.

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  4. Subho, this is a very complex essay. Read it yesterday and now again. Dont think I have comprehended it fully. I am hearing multiple points: 1. How the very concept of society (that of human being living "together") brings about an interference in nature's way of cherishing diversity and difference. And that therefore mentally ill in itself is an artificial construct set against this background. 2. That society and social evolution (not individual evolution) itself breeds sickness which is very real and that we dont have mechanisms to keep pace to sublimate the deviance. And this point set again point 1 says that is social evolution breeding sickness or are we unable to keep pace with individual evolution. 3. That treatment is itself an artificial socially constructed word and calls for a muting/erasure of the symptoms of deviance and the way out is repowerment of individual and the process of inner healing. As we discussed once, the importance of taking ownership of one's pain and suffering.
    My questions: 1. We already suffer from so much hidden shame and guilt, if we start with taking ownership, arent we likely to drown further. My greatest release was when I realized my cycles were both family or origin and brain induced. I hated myself till then. Then I learnt to cope. But I needed that space when I didnt have to blame myself for it.
    2. Meds I do agree merely seek to suppress symptoms--do not help deep healing. But one needs that anchor to be able to process deeper. Without the meds I couldnt have gotten into therapy successfully. They kept me sane and stable enough to learn new techniques. I still keep a bunch of them whenever things are way to difficult to handle. There is a social reality-It is not enough to survive, I have to eat, make community, and find a place to shit. And when community or food or shithole is not there for granted, I need the meds to keep things moving.
    3. I do agree on the piece of healing. My ayurvedic doc told me--there are no mental illness, just our inability to digest our past and present experiences and the way we store them in ourselves.
    I need to ruminate more but I also needed to comment so that I can come back to this as I process it further in my head. Thanks for the piece.

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    1. Bhavana, thanks for putting this rambling post into such a neat and easy to grasp perspective. As you have already started saying to yourself as you bring up these questions, the "logical" extension of medicine is spirituality and worship. Unfortunately, mainstream science still views this realm with some skepticism, and I feel that is sad, but perhaps necessary at this point in our evolution.

      You are spot on about the issue of pharmacological approaches, but as I replied to Indu earlier, it needs a more holistic tempering. Like I keep saying to people in the helping profession, if you cannot say with certainty you know what to do, don't mess with a mind. Most people cannot say they know with any certainty.

      But your comment really opens up an area that I think deeply about but do not have the courage to write about, at least as yet, There is a certain progression from seeing ourselves as independent, free-willed individuals, volitionally forming a system to seeing ourselves as relative components of a simultaneous micro- and macrocosm with its own evolutionary will. There will be errors of coding, there will be rogue cells, there will be bugs. The progression that I speak of might sound fatalistic, but I believe the errors, the rogues, the bugs are of our choosing. We might not even know how we chose them, since they might be manifestations of an entirely unrelated choice, but essential to that outcome. If you read this nonsense paragraph in the context of your thoughts on FOO issues and brain chemistry, you will see what I mean.

      The same paradigm of "there will be bugs" applies to the larger social pattern, and the inability to accept mental illness as a manifestation of our imperfection or diversity. I am repeatedly reminded of the film Matrix as I am writing this reply. The reason for that is that I see how you have raised questions that are extremely pertinent and gone on to suggest an answer, perhaps without even realizing it.

      Almost without exception, with a little tweak, all schools of thought will agree with the "inability to digest our experiences and the way we store them" paradigm. The divergence lies only in how they go about fixing it. Some offer antacids and muscle relaxants, others advice purging and fasting. Like you said, there is often need for an emergent fix, or else survival may be threatened. If we can use the emergent fix as just that and not as a long term painkiller, it is just fine. And are there cases where nothing but a long term painkiller will work? I am sure there are. And tying it back, I will also say that in such cases too, not letting anything else work is a choice, perhaps not a conscious one, but one that is essential from the developmental, why, even the survival perspective.

      I hope what I wrote here made some sense; I am not going to go back and make changes, since I have entered territory that I am extremely self-conscious in, and chances are I would just scrap the whole thing. However it might come across, whether it is rational or sensible or acceptable, I hope this will have added value to the overall discussion here.

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  5. I read the post a few times and the following comments too, I still can not claim I understand the concepts even partially. But what I would like to repeat from Roger Miller " It Takes All Kinds To Make A World". Diversity has been essential to the growth of human civilization and wherever we have killed it we are only one epidemic away from wiping the last 7000 years of growth ( agriculture for example one virus that likes main food crops and we will have it).

    I totally get and agree what is normal is decided by the time and place. Even today Men wearing skirt is frowned upon in England while Sean Connery the proud Scott that he is decided to wear at his Knighting ceremony. And that is my point diversity or non conformance is a great tool of protest from the square pegs in the round hole or was it the other way round.

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  6. Again like the others, I am not sure if I have understood everything here. I am personally not sure if normal is indeed normal. Mental disease has such a stigma in India. Even seeking counseling and going to psychiatrist too. It has so many dimensions. So much more to know here.

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  7. I think that most of the problems of the world are the result of people trying to justify their existence.
    In the U.S. (and other countries), unemployment is a problem so government agents reduce the problem by hiring more government agents. Of course, this drains money from people who could otherwise hire people on their own, and from people most in need of it. The problems resulting from their "solution" however, is not of their concern.
    In India, corruption is a problem. Rather than addressing this issue and enforcing existing laws penalizing theft, the government creates the Aadhar number which is just a band-aid and is certain to create the identity theft problems that people in the United States experience as a result of having the Social Security Number.
    As I was growing up, there was no such thing as ADD or Ritalin, and the overwhelming majority of us grew up just fine.
    The only constant seems to be the classic definition of "insanity": doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Unfortunately, there are too many people who do engage in such behaviours.

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  8. I love this article, it talks about much the challenges I face in the field and the perspectives that I completely comply with. Yet as I read it this time around I feel the need to jump to the rescue of the field. I have been practicing for a while and I am also in the academia and there is so much literature that talks about the need for a multicultural perspective on practice (spirituality as one of them), the need for differential treatment and a need to primarily diagnose based on phenomenology but treat based on etiology of the disease. (There is no ICD or DSM that will tell you about a diagnosis called “Facebook Depression” or IPad obsession. )

    Moreover, healers have been present since time immemorial...and I do believe that a good practitioner helps you focus and turn inward when you have somehow lost touch with yourself. Ofcourse, it takes a mindful and discerning eye to sieve sense out of all that goes on in order to be of help in the field.

    The field of mental health in India, as we see it now, is not in the least pleasant. There are merely 600 something licensed clinical psychologists in the field when there is a need for at least 20,000, so says the Rehabilitation Council of India. Now these are "licensed" CPs, there are many counselors and "psychologists" who are both perhaps better trained or poorly trained and go unaccounted for. I don’t think there is much of a dent in terms of able support being provided.

    Now, in chronic and acute cases I really think that even psychiatrists do a good job of managing symptoms. And these are the people that will find you regardless of stigma attached to mental health. Now coming to issues where children and adults are misdiagnosed and merely labelled, I think it speaks to the practitioners inability and insecurity. I wish people like this would just stop practicing (or vanish). I agree with you about medication and the need (or not) for it. I do think that regardless of the disorder, a person needs to be stabilized in order to work around issues of family of origin or relational issues, etc. So if I see an addict with delirum I will focus on stabilizing him before I work with underlying issues. And I think there is consensus about stabilizing among practitioners but most of us start to feel uncomfortable when it comes to managing underlying issues.

    Anyhow, will stop. Thanks for the post. I love the conversation it has generated too.

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  9. mind is such a tricky, intelligent but fragile part to deal with..
    we all have our own personal versions of being healthy(mentally). But, I fear most of the times it is influenced by the people around.

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  10. am not very sure if we should go with one's definition about mental health to be correct because what may seem to be correct may not be correct and wrong may not be wrong but correct .. normal may not be normal actually!

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  11. As a teenager by love was for physics and maths and I dreamed of being an astrophysicist. But as I matured, I found the human mind to be more complex and mysterious than the universe. At present I am doing my M.S. in psychotherapy and counseling. Psychological research states that most of the people would be diagnosed as mentally ill unhealthy is subjected to tests, but then it is not debilitating them.
    Instead of seeing where to draw the line, or who to consider mentally unhealthy people, all we have to is watch out for those who due to some reason are not able to carry on with their lives without help. Whether it is an disorder, addiction or just personality gone berserk, we have to reach to such people, so that they will neither harm themselves or people around them.
    I do not much ponder over who is sane or who is insane. I have chosen to reach out to people who think they emotional, psychological or moral help so that they will not feel alone and confused.

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  12. Thank you Subho for an extremely well-researched piece created in the head and written from the heart. I particularly liked the final suggestion-para Heal Yourself. Yes, in a land with a strong-rooted spiritual base, timeless grandmothers who could absorb everyone's hollows in their ample bosoms, so many selfless spiritual Masters willing to hold your hand and lead you till you learn to walk confidently and (thanks to horror-headlines and untimely deaths jangling your security-systems everyday) slowly, but steadily parents who are growing in the awareness that in nucleur homes flooding the mall into the nursery is not quite the way to make your child feel good about itself it is IMPERATIVE to create different kinds of knowledge-bases to initiate everyone in the fine art and science of healing oneself.Love'n God bless! Shailaja Ganguly

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