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.
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.



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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
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
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 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.


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.