RAAVNA… Mystery of loving your captivator?


The last emotionally packed and paradoxical sequel of the film Raavana wherein Rajini, disillusioned and suspicions of her husband goes onto meet Veera, her captivator was quite baffling. Why would Rageeni need to confirm the truth with Veera, her abuser, whom she knew barely for 14 days as against her husband who loved her for so long? How will Rageeni deal with her conflicting emotions now if she decides to go back to her marriage? Although most of us who have seen the movie ‘understand’ Rageeni’s emotions; if we try and socially or logically analyze it, we will be at a dead end. While the situation doesn’t make sense from a social standpoint, does it make sense from a psychological viewpoint? The answer is – Yes…its called the Stockholm Syndrome!

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological shift that occurs in captives when they are threatened gravely but are shown acts of kindness by their captors. Captives who exhibit the syndrome tend to sympathize with and think highly of their captors. When subjected to prolonged captivity, these captives can develop a strong bond with their captors, in some cases including a sexual interest. Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, widely credited with Stockholm Syndrome’s psychiatric definition, describes it as “a primitive gratitude for the gift of life,” not unlike that felt by an infant.

Is Stockholm Syndrome limited only to dramatic situations like kidnapping and hostage? Surprisingly, it is more common than people realize it to be. We all know it under the name of “Domestic Violence”. People are often amazed at their own psychological conditions and reactions. Having worked with couples for a number of years I come across many such cases in my clinical practice. Some of the most surprised and shocked individuals are those who have been involved in controlling and abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, they offer comments such as “I know what he’s done to me, but I still love him”, “I don’t know why, but I want him back”, or “I know it sounds crazy, but I miss her”. Recently I’ve heard “This doesn’t make sense. He’s got a new girlfriend and he’s abusing her too…but I’m jealous!” Friends and relatives are even more amazed and shocked when they hear these comments or witness their loved one returning to an abusive relationship.

Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships. The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority. In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not “all bad” and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn’t happen, that “small kindness” is interpreted as a positive sign.

As relatives or friends of a victim involved with a controller or abuser, our normal reaction is to consider dramatic action. We become angry, resentful, and aggressive at times. A rule of thumb is that any aggression toward the controller/abuser will result in additional difficulties for your loved one. Try to remain calm and await an opportunity to show your love and support when your loved one needs it. Remember you can not help the victim till the victim does not decide to help himself / herself.

Taking the abuser’s perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others.

Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts. Victims then turn on their family – fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and stop interfering, and break off communication with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as “causing trouble” and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to “interfere” or try to help the victim in their situation. On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it’s safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn’t work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling.

In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault. Remember, the more you pressure the “victim” of the Loser/Abuser, the more you prove their point. Your loved one is being told the family is trying to ruin their wonderful relationship. Pressure in the form of contacts, comments, and communications will be used as evidence against you.

Your contacts with your loved one, no matter how routine and loving, may be met with anger and resentment. This is because each contact may prompt the Loser/Abuser to attack them verbally or emotionally. Try to maintain traditional and special contacts with your loved one – holidays, special occasions, etc. Keep your contacts short and brief, with no comments that can be used as evidence. Remember that there are many channels of communication. It’s important that we keep a channel open if at all possible. Communication channels might include phone calls, letters, cards, and e-mail. Scheduled monthly shopping trips or outings are helpful if possible. The goal is to maintain contact while your loved one is involved in the controlling/abusive relationship. Remember, the goal is contact, not pressure.

Don’t feel the victim’s behavior is against the family or friends. It may be a form of survival or a way of lowering stress. Victims may be very resistive, angry, and even hostile due to the complexity of their relationship with the controller/abuser. They may even curse, threaten, and accuse loved ones and friends. This hostile defensiveness is actually self-protection in the relationship – an attempt to avoid “trouble”.

The victim needs to know and feel they are not rejected because of their behavior. Keep in mind, they are painfully aware of their situation. They know they are being treated badly and/or controlled by their partner. Frequent reminders of this will only make them want less contact. We naturally avoid people who remind us of things or situations that are emotionally painful.

If the relationship has continued for over a year, they may require support and an exit plan before ending the relationship. Marriage and children further complicates their ability to leave the situation. When the victim decides to end the unhappy relationship, it’s important that they view loved ones as supportive, loving, and understanding – not a source of pressure, guilt, or aggression. The victim and the family may also require some counseling to undo the hurt, anger and guilt.

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Smoothen transition into new academic year at school


As the new academic year sets in, it waits to be explored by your child. There are new goals to be achieved, new knowledge to be gained and new challenges to be faced.
One thing is certain. All children look for everything new… new books, new bags, new stationary etc. But does your child look forward to the new class which will bring a change in the classroom scenery? He/She will probably have new classmates, new teachers, new subjects etc.
Preparing your child for the new academic year is much more than equipping him/her with material requirements. If a child is not academically, socially and emotionally prepared, the disconcerting feeling may just last the whole year through.
Children often visualise about the year ahead based on the senior student’s experiences, which may be misleading and make your child anxious.
Some things to bear in mind when helping your child prepare for the fresh year…
• A higher class brings new challenges. Perhaps your child will be expected to do more homework or assignments. With fears of not measuring up academically, the best defence is a good offence. Getting organised and establishing reassuring routines can go a long way to making a child feel competent.
• Rumours of a particularly hard teacher may fuel fearing or disliking a new teacher. Do help your child keep in mind that one person’s dreaded teacher can also be another kid’s favourite. While it’s okay for your child to express his/her dislike of a teacher, he/she should be expected to remain respectful. You can encourage your child to be open-minded and approach this as an opportunity to help him/her learn how to deal with a person he/she finds difficult. Listen to his/her issues and plan to attend parent-teacher meetings to get your own take on the situation.
• A new class schedule can mean adjusting without friends, who have provided a social base in previous years. Try to present this as an opportunity for your child to widen his group of friends, rather than a tragic loss of familiar faces.
• If possible, get the class list and set up a play date before school starts, so that your child will have a new friend to look for on the first day. Establish time for him/her to catch up with old friends too.
• A new school or classroom may spark concerns about finding friends at all. An outside class or hobby such as dance or a sport can provide a conversation starter and the opportunity to meet kids outside your child’s usual circles. Talking to him/her about other challenging situations that he/she successfully navigated also boosts self-esteem.

Relationship Studio… Rejuvenate and Enhance your Relations


Our closest relationships have a dramatic effect on our life…positive and negative.

Relationship Studio works with the couples at various stages in their life. Our sessions provide intensive learning experience and practical tool for strengthening your connection as a couple and building a deep mutual attraction and appreciation that can last a life time.

Invest in your relations now and the dividends can last you a life time!!

For registrations contact revival.life@gmail.com or call us on 9960900363

Play Therapy… a case study


Before Vishal came in for Play therapy sessions, Vishal, a 11 year old, often lied to his parents about school work and stole money. Hi s parents were unable to understand why he did so despite the fact that there were liberal and would never pressurizing him for school work. They tried to correct his behavior by first talking to him, then threatening him with dire consequences and occasionally using the rod, but to no avail. Vishal had, over the months got grumpier and was now not only avoiding school but he even refused to play with friends. The cousellor at school too was unable to bring about any improvements in his behavior, when he was finally referred for play therapy.
Within a few sessions of play therapy, there was marked shift in his demeanor as his willingness to do school work improved and was back to his normal playful self. Infact as Play Therapy continued there was a significant improvement in his academic performance.
How did Play Therapy help him to achieve this? How does Play Therapy Work?
Play Therapy helps to unmask the unconscious motives & feelings which are the primary drivers of the majority of our maladaptive behaviors. These behaviors (which have their roots in the unconscious motives) resist any change brought about by our conscious decisions and bringing them into awareness is the only way to bring about sustainable change.
For example, Vishal’s tendency to lie is his unconscious need to get attention from his parents. Although, consciously he understands that his parents love him and provide him the best, unconsciously he detests the little time he gets to spend with them. His conscious reasoning fights this hurt and anger and it is pushed down into the unconscious. These emotions, although not available to his conscious mind, continue to operate and determine his behaviour.
During play therapy, a child enacts these unconscious conflicts and the therapist helps the child understand them. In Vishal’s case it provided him with the freedom to communicate this need for attention verbally in a healthier manner than his current negative attention seeking ‘acting out’.
Play is one of the primary activities of childhood. Although adults brush it off as a ‘time pass’ activity, it is a very meaningful activity for the child. It is through play that the child learns to explore, understand and develop an array of skills to deal with the social, emotional and physical challenges that are constantly thrown his way in his initial learning years. Play therapy utilizes play, children’s natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words. Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults.Whereas most adults may find relief in talking over problems, children often have difficulty in expressing thoughts and feelings in words, and play can serve as a medium for them to express themselves.
It is common for children to experience occasional problems as they grow and mature. They experience conflicts at home over such issues as toilet training, bedtime and homework. They encounter problems with parents and peers as they attempt to establish a personal identity and practice relating to others. They experience conflict with teachers as academic and behavioral demands increase. As a child is faced with new situations, demands and expectations, it is common for the child to experience emotional ups and downs characterized by feelings of sadness, fear and anger. These reactions tend to be short-lived, however, and usually do not significantly interfere with the child’s life. However, occasionally a child’s response to life’s pressures may become severe, and the parents’ attempts to help their child may be unsuccessful. At times such as these, professional assistance may be warranted.
Psychological treatment may be warranted when a child’s difficulties interfere with normal family functioning, even though the child is not upset by this circumstance. Children may also benefit from psychological treatment when the problems they face are complicated and beyond the range of normal daily experience. For example, children who suffer from serious or life-threatening medical problems, the death of a loved one, an accident, children whose parents are undergoing divorce or families who are shifting to a new city. The psychologist focuses on helping these children develop coping skills to deal with their unique situation and advises parents regarding how best to support their child.
The least common but most serious indication that psychological treatment is needed is when a child’s symptoms are severe or the behavior is extreme and potentially life threatening. This would include situations in which a child is experiencing false auditory or visual sensations, setting fires, assaulting others, or is severely depressed and making remarks about committing suicide.
Parents react in varied ways when faced with the idea that their child needs psychological treatment. Some parents tend to feel guilty and blame themselves for their child’s problem. Other concerned parents may experience confusion or uncertainty regarding their child’s need for treatment. A teacher, for instance, may describe the child as evidencing emotional or behavior problems in the classroom, while the child appears to behave normally at home. Parents who receive this type of feedback often have difficulty reconciling their own perception of their child with those of the teacher.
Most parents can and should attempt to help their child cope with problems before consulting a psychologist. However, as with all areas of life, there are some situations where outside help is warranted. The average parent is not reluctant to consult a physician for their child’s medical needs. In fact, parents who do not obtain appropriate medical care for their children are considered negligent. I believe the informed parent also recognizes when their child may need or benefit from psychological treatment and understands that such intervention is not in any way a sign of parental failure.
Children’s reactions to stressful life circumstances range from mild and short-lived to severe and long lasting. When a child’s problems do not resolve within a reasonable time-frame psychological intervention is recommended. Therapy offers children the opportunity to identify, discuss and understand problems and to develop necessary coping skills. Therapy also provides the opportunity to address parental concerns, educate parents regarding their child’s unique needs, and assist them in meeting these needs in an appropriate, effective fashion. Finally, it is important to recognize that without appropriate and timely treatment a child’s problems may become severe and lead to more serious, long-lasting difficulties.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT & ITS IMPACT ON CHILD


Raunjovit, 12 year old boy from a top notch school of Calcutta committed suicide by hanging himself after he was subjected to corporal punishment at school.
How could such incidences be avoided?
• Parents need to take active interest in their child’s school life. This will give them some indication or a prior notice if something is upsetting the child at school. Prevention is always better than cure.
• Parents themselves should believe that disciplining a child does not require them to be punitive. They should be against the proverb “spare the rod and spoil the child”.
• Parents and teachers should educate themselves and actively seek each others support on effective disciplinary methods through discussions during PTA meetings.
• Parenting is not an inborn talent or intuition, rather it is a skill which can be learnt by attending Parenting seminars.
• If you are still facing behavioural and disciplinary issues with your child, consult a child psychologist. There may be deeper emotional issues which require professional help like Play Therapy.
• It is a known fact that children find it difficult to express emotions verbally. Play being a natural mode of communication for children, children use play to communicate their emotions and resolve them. Play Therapist are trained to help children deal with difficult emotions using play as a medium for communication.
Why Should Corporal Punishment Be Banned?
Corporal punishment should be banned for the following reasons:
1. It has no place in the education of children.
2. It perpetuates the cycle of abuse.
• The research shows that children who are beaten and abused are more likely to be prone to depression, low self-esteem and suicide. The simple fact that corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure is not part of any education curriculum indicates that educators at every level know that corporal punishment has no place in the classroom. Discipline can and should be taught be example.

• Corporal punishment is often an outlet for adults’ pent-up feelings rather than an attempt to educate children. Many schools urgently need more resources and support, but however real adults’ problems may be, venting them on children cannot be justifiable. In any case, hitting children is ineffective in relieving stress. Adults who hit out in temper often feel guilty; those who hit dispassionately find they have angry and resentful children to cope with. Life in schools where corporal punishment has been abandoned in favour of positive discipline is much less stressful for all.
• Evidence all over the world indicates a strong relationship between high rates of corporal punishment and higher rates of poor academic achievement, dropouts, juvenile delinquents, incarceration and spouse abuse. There appears to be a strong link between corporal punishment during the growing years of a child’s life, and his/her easily becoming a perpetrator (of violence) later in life.
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Respect vs fear. Respect should not be confused with fear. “Good” behaviour due to fear of being punished means that a child is avoiding punishment, not showing respect. Corporal punishment can appear to be effective when it results in immediate compliance, but its negative short and long term effects are well documented. The negative emotional impact of corporal punishment in fact impedes learning and undermines the teaching and learning process.
Children learn to truly respect people and things when they appreciate their intrinsic worth. When teachers demonstrate respect for children’s human dignity and integrity, children themselves learn to respect themselves and others. When teachers discipline children in positive, non-violent ways, children learn that conflict can be resolved without undermining this respect. Positive forms of discipline are designed to ensure that children learn to think about others and about the consequences of their actions. There are many materials available to support non-violent classroom management which can be adapted and translated for use in every country.

Discipline vs punishment. Discipline is not the same as punishment. Real discipline is not based on force, but grows from understanding, mutual respect and tolerance. Corporal punishment tells children nothing about how they should behave. On the contrary, hitting children is a lesson in bad behaviour. It teaches children that adults find it acceptable to use violence to sort out problems or conflicts.
Discipline problems should not be confused with discipline solutions. It is important to distinguish between problems with discipline in schools and the ways in which schools respond to those problems. There is a tendency for teachers who are against prohibition to point to children’s behaviour as demonstrating the need for corporal punishment. But children’s behaviour does not necessitate a violent response. Discipline problems in school result from a combination of many factors, including those relating to the child’s individual circumstances, the school environment, the nature and perception of the teaching profession in a particular country, the adequacy of the curriculum, etc. Poor school discipline represents a failure to identify and address appropriately the causes of the perceived problem; it does not result from a failure to inflict corporal punishment on children. Addressing disciplinary problems requires creative, empathic, supported, respectful and professional interventions, not beating and humiliating learners.
The Positive Disciplining measures should be introduced both at school and at home. It identifies four solutions that begin with the letter R: Related, Respectful, R reasonable, and Revealed in order to be effective. Their respective meanings are given below:
• Related means that it is directly linked to the misbehavior in some way;
• Respectful means that teachers retain a respectful posture when dealing
with a student;
• Reasonable means that the consequence or solution doesn’t contain any
additional punishment; and,

• Revealed means that the student knows in advance what the consequences
will be.

HANDLING SELF SABOTAGING & SELF LIMITING BEHAVIOURS


Susanne was recently hired on a senior managerial post. She had wanted this break for months but now that she had bagged it she has been really struggling. She found herself sabotaging her own career by procrastinating work that was crucial, coming late to work, late submissions of reports etc. She herself is troubled by her self destructive behaviour. She cannot fathom why she is continuing to behave against her self interest although it consistently leads herself to misery. We have all seen this in our friends and are quick to point it out, but regrettably shove our own misfortunes under the carpet.
A friend who is bright and outstanding in her own career always ends up in relationships with partners who are unable to contribute anything to the household. So while she ends up working very hard paying for the household, her unemployed partner relaxes at home. Eventually, she questions herself and breaks away from the relationship. After repeated such relationships, she questions herself on her own wisdom but is unable to arrive at any conclusions. What seems glaringly obvious to those closest to her, she is oblivious to it. Why despite her high intelligence at work and in other spheres of life is she having a blind spot to this aspect, which is in fact the most crucial factor, determining her happiness for her?
Your colleague is extremely talented and is in great need to upgrade her salary, but she lands herself with jobs which require more work and pay less. You see no apparent reason why she can not get better pay and a cushiony job for herself, but have witnessed her struggling. You ask her what keeps her in the current job although her boss is exploiting her. She confides that she feels that if she left him now, he would be stranded and she would in a way feel responsible for his misery. She viewed it as being unethical, disloyal and selfish. So although she wants to shift to another job, she subordinates her own goals and ambitions for her ideals. It makes no sense to you as she often complains about being stuck and although you can hear her anger, she is unaware of her deep resentment.
You have wanted to loose 10 kgs that you have put on post the child birth, 5 years ago but to no vail. You have the available resources, will power and confidence, but for some reason or the other your priorities take a back seat. Now with the back problem increasing it has become a pressing issue and you are beat as to why does you are unable to stick to the diet regimen. You don’t like the way you look and feel and now it seems to even hinder in your work life. But something stops you from successfully adhering to your fitness program.
You are chronically late with your taxes and invariably end up with bitter arguments with a dear friend. You are aware that your friend is doing you a favour by taking your file although he handles only corporate work. You also know that the last week of march he has his hands full with last minute changes from the bigger clients but end up only 2 weeks before the last date. Now your relationship with him is turning sour because of your consistent insensitivity to his needs.
Why do you end up postponing your work, your personal agendas and indulge in self limiting and self destructive behaviour. There seems no apparent reason. But most importantly how do we overcome them? In all the above given situation the issues seem maladaptive or harmful but if we give it a closer look it is an adaptive response or beneficial to the individual. However absurd or inappropriate the adaptation is, the individual stands to be protected with this response. The harmful consequences to these solutions are easily identifiable but the beneficial aspects are concealed and obscure. This is so because the beneficial reasons are outside the individuals conscious awareness and therefore the individual is unable to bring about any changes to them with conscious resolutions. In fact if they were aware of it or was brought into their awareness, they would be able to change them. This kind of an inexplicable behaviour represents an unconscious conflict which can be changed only by bringing it to the fore front. The maladaptive response is the only symptom which gives us a clue about this conflict and it continues to repeat till it is made conscious and resolved.
For example an overweight person may temporarily feel motivated to join a weight loss program but her actions on a day to day life are unsupporting of the resolution, representing an inner conflict. Her actions are in accordance with the unconscious motives rather than conscious motives. Although she wants to loose weight to take care of herself physically, she may have a conflicting motive that if she looses weight then people will not take care of her, weightloss will bring her into limelight and she may be frightened that she will emotionally slip into another intimate relationship, she may be afraid to repeat the unhappy marriage of her parents, or may be anxious about some aspects of sexuality. Whatever the reasons are, they are so terrifying for her that she hides out in the huge body to avoid facing the consequences.
People who often repeat abusive relationships have as children repeatedly experienced people around them not paying any heed to their emotions and feelings. In fact when they have expressed their emotions they may have been rebuked or criticized or maybe nothing changed despite their communications and they may have learnt this not to tune into the feelings to avoid feeling the pain. This then became their maladaptive coping mechanism which they repeat in their adulthood. They have learnt to protect themselves by getting into relationships of power where they experience helplessness experienced in childhood over and over again so that they do not have to feel the emotional pain of not being heard again, infact often they operate blindly without being aware of their feelings (their learnt maladaptive protective behaviour of childhood). It is their way to bring to surface the conflict and attempt to resolve their childhood pain in the current situation. This is precisely why although intelligent enough they are unable to choose wisely in their relationships or set appropriate limits as they are operating without their feelings. Your emotions act as a vital compass to guide important decisions about love and work, without which you are likely to get hurt.
How can we recognize these maladaptive coping mechanisms which need to change if we want to progress in our life? Follow the following steps and work out your inner conflict:
Think about a problem with which you have struggled for a long time.
Describe the ways in which it is maladaptive. How does this
problem hurt you or hold you back or make you unhappy? What
is its impact on your relationships at work, at home, and socially?
1. Have you attempted to change this problem? If not, why not? If
so, describe the nature of your efforts?
2. In what ways have your efforts been successful? If they have
been unsuccessful, why?
3. In what ways have your efforts been self limiting? How were they
sabotaged?
4. Now focus on the adaptive aspects of the problem. However absurd it may seem, try to answer them.
How is this problem adaptive? What are the benefits? Who are
the beneficiaries? That is, how might lovers, friends, family, and
coworkers benefit from it? How might you benefit from it?
5. What aspects of yourself does it allow you to avoid?
Who would experience a loss if the “problem” were eliminated?
Describe the loss. What would its impact be?
6. How would you be forced to grow and mature if the “problem”
were eliminated? That is, in what ways would you be forced out
of your comfort zone?
7. How would others be forced to grow and mature if the “problem”
were eliminated? How would they be helped or hurt by the
elimination of your problem?
8. If you achieve your goal or eliminate your problem, how would
your life be different? Would it be more populated with people?
More isolated? Busier? More lonely? More leisurely?
9. How would your lifestyle change?
10. How would your friendships be affected?
How would key people in your life react? Would they be pleased?
Would they be envious? A bit of both?
11. What would your parents think about it (answer this even if they
are no longer alive).
If you are partnered, what would your partner think about it?
How would your partner feel about it?
12. What would your children think about it? How would they feel
about it? How would they be affected?
13. As a function of this change, who would be more likely to enter
your life? Who might leave it?
14. What difficult or frightening situations would you have to
confront?
15. How can these “symptoms” be overcome and mastered?
The questions above provide you with a structure for thinking about the meaning of a puzzling conflict. At first, these questions seem absurd to many people. However, over time, they begin to make sense. Answering these steps can be a wonderful beginning to changing an unwanted behavior or situation. Talk your fears over with a trusted friend. Develop a plan for overcoming your “problem”. Give yourself a timeframe for overcoming your “problem” or achieving your goal. If after your efforts, you are unable to take any of these steps, consider seeking psychotherapy from an experienced clinician. We know enough about psychodynamics and unconscious motivations that most symptoms can be understood and effectively addressed.

WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH……


When does an everyday anxiety or stress becomes anxiety disorder?
Symptoms of anxiety are more prevalent than the common cold. Every one has experienced a knot in the stomach, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, worrying, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, a dry mouth, difficulty sleeping or restlessness at some point in their life. Living in metropolitan city, we live wired in high stress situations and often find ourselves strung up or easily fatigued. How many of us find bodily aches and pains, sleepless nights a common phenomenon and run to the chemist or a spa to distress ourselves? These feelings and symptoms are ubiquitous. But, how does one know when these symptoms are an anticipated, reasonable reaction to endless gridlock, long commutes and the pervasive work holism that is endemic to the greater metropolitan area? Or, how does one know when they are indicative of a more significant problem? Is this temporary patch work kind of a phenomenon enough? One has to determine whether this is temporary or a regular phenomenon and then look into treatment options.
Everyday Anxiety
Everyone experiences anxiety. In small amounts it can be useful. That is, it can serve as a warning signal that something isn’t quite right.
Take a classic example, undoubtedly familiar to anyone who has been a student. You’re in college, the term is nearing its end. Finals are on the horizon. You’re behind in your reading and you’re behind in your studying. Your heart starts to palpitate. You experience feelings of impending doom. You imagine what it would be like to fail your courses. You become worried. And, you are compelled to take action. You hit the books and you study. You pass your finals with flying colors. In this case, your anxiety served a productive, advisory role. In a sense your anxiety was adaptive. It signaled to you that trouble was imminent and it prompted you to take effective action. It helped you to function and to meet the demands of your every day life. A little bit of anxiety can be motivating. It can help us to go to work when we’d rather play, to clean when we’d rather relax and to carry out the responsibilities of our every day lives. But, how do we know when we have crossed the fine line between everyday anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder?
When Everyday Anxiety becomes “Disorder”
This is an important question, many people worry that they may be depressed but anxiety is actually a far more prevalent psychological concern. Anxiety, unchecked, can lead to significant health and mental health difficulties. It is important to know when everyday anxiety crosses the threshold and becomes “anxiety disorder”. The good news: it is also the most treatable. We should become concerned when anxiety begins to persistently interfere with our capacity to function effectively in our everyday lives.
For example, Lets take an example of an executive in a MNC who gets anxious before his presentation. He gets so worried that he has sleepless nights imagining what if he fumbles. Even when he does sleep his sleep isn’t rested and wakes up feeling tired. He doesn’t seem to arrive at any conclusion but keeps replaying the possible scenarios over and over again. His body hurts and he finds himself getting extremely irritated on small issues. There is a general sense that one more thing and that he will snap. This seems to be a recurrent phenomenon, not restricted to performances anymore. He finds himself unable to pay attention at the meetings and seems disoriented, forgetting things generally. While this type of experience is fairly common, if it is recurrent, it is evidence of maladaptive anxiety. That is, the anxiety is getting in the way of the individual’s ability to function effectively in the workplace. Similarly, we should become concerned when anxiety interferes with our establishing and maintaining the kinds of personal relationships that we seek.
For example, let’s take the woman who would like to date and marry but finds rather than enjoying dating — she worries throughout the entire dating experience. Will he call? Won’t he call? What does it mean that he doesn’t call? What does it mean that he asks her out at the “last minute”? Why has he not invited her home? Will it last? Won’t it last? She calls her friends, seeking advice, but doesn’t find it reassuring. If they agree with her, she wants to disconnect. If they recheck on the basis of her worries she gets irritated. Instead of relaxing and having fun, she finds that she can’t enjoy herself. Anxiety that interferes with our ability to have gratifying professional or personal lives warrants evaluation.
Evaluation and Treatment
How does one go about seeking evaluation and treatment and what sorts of treatments are effective? Research has demonstrated that many types of treatment are effective in alleviating anxiety disorders. How one goes about seeking treatment reflects ones personal goals. Some approaches focus primarily on helping the individual to achieve symptom relief. For example, psychiatric medication can be helpful in helping the individual to calm down and not be so reactive to the stressors in her life. Psychodynamic approaches work by helping the individual to deepen their understanding of what is making them so anxious. Individuals are encouraged to talk freely about themselves and their lives with the idea that they may come to understand and overcome their inner conflicts.
For example, the woman who is anxious about dating may be very frightened for many reasons. She could be frightened of intimacy. A psychodynamic psychotherapy will help her to learn more about why she is so frightened of intimacy with the hope that as she deepens her self-understanding, she will become less frightened and more open to entering into a loving relationship. The idea is that if the anxiety can be fully understood and resolved, it is less likely to return.
Research shows that both of these approaches, and combination of them, can be extremely helpful in treating anxiety disorder. One works to give immediate relief and the latter to ensure that the problem or similar such issues are effectively dealt with permanently by the individual. The key is to seek early evaluation with a qualified mental health professional.
Does your anxiety require a professional evaluation?
Answer true or false to the following questions and find out.
For at least the last couple of weeks:
1. I have been excessively worried. I worry excessively about things.
2. I have difficulty settling down and working on a task.
3. I have difficulty concentrating.
4. Most nights, I have difficulty falling asleep or my sleep is fitful and restless. I wake up feeling tired and unrested.
5. My hands are sweaty and damp and often have palpitations.
6. I am irritable, often.
7. I am easily fatigued.
8. My anxiety makes it difficult for me to do my job as well as I should.
9. My anxiety makes it difficult for me to have the kind of relationships that I seek.
10. I experience a lot of muscle tension and body aches and pains.
If you have any of these symptoms persistently, you should seriously consider a psychological help.

COPING MECHANISMS AT WORK



Handling employee self sabotaging behaviours at work place
You are a regional head of a company. You have recently hired a new center manager. His credentials are excellent and his work experience speaks for itself. But at every turn he seems to sabotage himself. For example he will give a terrific presentation but will come in stained clothes, he will generate dynamic and innovative ideas for product launch but will forget to calculate the risk factors, will send in reports regularly but will forget to arrange the papers in order, or while addressing delegates he will forget to acknowledge the key person.
You are aware of the organizational dynamics and how this can adversely affect his job security as well as tarnish your reputation. He is a talented man, not easily found and you want to make the best of the situation with a little tweaking if possible, so you bring this up with him. When you do so, he readily acknowledges his mistakes and promises to try harder. But its sounds like deja vue to you and past experiences speak louder than the words that you are hearing from him. You already know that the forces are beyond his control. You feel frustrated and upset and wonder what could possibly motivate him to be more proactive in these behaviours. It is apparent to both of you that his behaviours have nothing to do with his abilities or intelligence, but they remain maladaptive. But not known to both of you is that these so called maladaptive behaviours may actually have some benefits, perhaps in a way that he is himself unaware, being in the unconscious. That in some way they represent a solution to an internal conflict or difficulties and the reason he seems to be unable to give them up however much he tries is because they protect him. Because his maladaptive behaviour has motives outside his conscious awareness, his conscious decisions remain unsupported and therefore fail. Were he aware of these unconscious motives he would’ve been able to change them.
These maladaptive behaviours are our unconscious minds signal to our conscious mind to pay attention to these unresolved conflicts and to heal them. However absurd it may sound, this is our minds defense system to heal, just like fever is our body’s defense to kill antibodies. Fever is just a symptom or a clue to underlying illness as is maladaptive behaviour is a clue to underlying conflict. It is universal phenomenon. What keeps him from achieving his dreams to succeed? The reasons are the same as any other individual. These same reasons makes a business delay income tax returns, one from not going to the dentist till the pain gets unbearable, a student from not studying, another person from being late every day at work.
Consider this, that while on a conscious level he might want to succeed very much, but on a deeper unconscious level he may be terrified of doing so. Maybe succeeding at the managerial level may take him into uncharted territories. He may be unaware of his fears of competition. For example, if he has an elder brother who was always viewed as more intelligent so although he did poorly in studies he excelled in sports and they never crossed each others path till financial success came into picture. Although he was street smart along with being intelligent and is a combination for success, succeeding at work would be outshining his brother and he maybe fearful of doing so. Maybe earning more money would represent that his mother will not be pleased or that it is incompatible with his self image of being a duffer.
It is obvious that whatever the psychological reasons are, they can not compensate for the corporate damage and you cannot expect them to protect him. Just discussing these also may indicate to him that he is not accountable for his actions and you do not want to do so. More importantly you don’t want to corrupt the environment of the corporate and pass on wrong messages to other colleagues and subordinates, but nor can you ignore them. His behaviour converts individual difficulties into organizational dysfunction. What you need to do is discuss his troubling behaviour with him and tell him firmly that he must find a way to change it. You empathize with him about his frustrations on his inability to change his self sabotaging behaviour but insist on changing them. If you find yourself getting too involved in personal dynamics or internal dynamics of his mind, repeatedly draw boundaries by telling him that they maybe important insights but that does not change the corporate facts and for the sake of work relations you rather avoid getting into them, as often employees regret such personal conversations later on. Instead after taking him into confidence talk to the Human Resource department and include some coaching for personal development. In some cases where these behaviours are resistant to change, the best tool for gaining self awareness is psychotherapy. Make him aware of where these services are available through the employee assistance program. Conversations such as these are always difficult and require a lot of tact but are essential for maintaining employee morale and relationships.