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ACID ATTACK AND ITS IMPACT



In a male chauvinistic world, woman is considered to be the property of man. Be it a spurned lover, a suspecting husband or a man who is shooed away when he wants a relationship, each feels humiliated and wants to take revenge against the woman. The easiest way to hurt the woman in such instances is throwing acid on her. It makes the man feel immensely and rather sadistically satisfied if the woman is disfigured. Experts believe that the foremost reasons behind this barbaric act are easy availability of acids and illiteracy among the masses. The overwhelming majority of the victims are women, and many of them are below 18 years of age. These attacks are often the result of family and land dispute, dowry demands or a desire for revenge. There are umpteen instances in history of how women were treated in times of war or conflict. With the advent of industrialization and inventions, acid has come handy to these egotists in their bid to disfigure women. Acid throwing could well be described as the attempt to control or subjugate women.

Victims of attacks not only undergo severe physical trauma but also traumatic changes in the way they feel and think. Psychological trauma is caused by both what the terror victims suffer during the attack, as they feel their skin burning away, and what they suffer after the attack with respect to the disfigurement or disabilities they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Victims suffer psychological symptoms such as depression, insomnia, nightmares, paranoia, and/or fear of facing the outside world, headaches, weakness and tiredness, difficulty in concentrating and remembering things, etc. They feel perpetually depressed, ashamed, worried and lonely. Usually, acid burn victims suffer severe psychological symptoms for years, if not forever, because they are constantly reminded of the violent act by their physical scars. The feeling of lack of hope and worth may never leave them.

Social and Economic Consequences
Acid burn victims face a lifetime of discrimination from society and they often become lonely. They are embarrassed as they think people may stare or laugh at them, and may hesitate to leave their homes fearing adverse reactions from the outside world. Victims who are not married are not likely to get married and those who have suffered serious disabilities because of an attack, like blindness, will not find jobs and earn a living. Discrimination from other people, or disabilities such as blindness, makes it very difficult for victims to fend for themselves and they become dependent on others for food and money.
It has, therefore, been argued that acid attacks need to be classified as a separate offence and harsher punishment needs to be prescribed. It has been further stated that the new law must include guidelines for handling/supporting victims economically, socially and psychologically, and provide compensation. In fact since acid is so readily available across the counter in medical and other stores, acid attacks are a relatively cheap and effective way of committing acts of violence against women. Buying hydrochloric acid is as easy and cheap as buying a bar of soap; a litre of acid costs anywhere between Rs. 16 and Rs. 25.
There is, however, no law to regulate acid sales except for the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989 (amended in 2000), and this only applies to industrial situations. Furthermore, there are no regular inspections and stock checking for acid sales as there are for explosives. It has been argued by some that controlling or regulating acid sales is an impossible task, as acid is used for many things including car batteries, etc. Thus, the deterrence should come in the form of stringent laws that punish the perpetrators. However, Bangladesh, a country with the highest incident rate of acid attacks, has passed a law in 2002 to control acid sales. Thus, acid violence can be tackled on both fronts simultaneously with harsher punishment on the perpetrator and control over the sale of acid to stop it from getting into the hands of criminals. International commerce of sulphuric acid is controlled under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988, which lists sulphuric acid under Table II of the convention, as a chemical frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
Nitric or sulphuric acid has a catastrophic effect on human flesh. It causes the skin tissue to melt, often exposing the bones below the flesh, sometimes even dissolving the bone. When acid attacks the eyes, it damages them permanently. Many acid attacks survivors have lost the use of one or both eyes. But the scars left by acid are not just skin deep. In addition to the inevitable psychological trauma, some survivors also face social isolation and ostracism that further damage their self-esteem and seriously undermine their professional and personal futures. Women who have survived acid attacks have great difficulty in finding work and, if unmarried (as many victims tend to be), have very little chance of ever getting married. In a country like India this has serious social and economic consequences. The New York Times (Dec, 26, 2001) reports that kerosene as well as acid has fast become the weapons of choice for attacks on wives in India. The major victim of attacked is Women(47%) and Men(26%). Children(27%) could not escape from the attack. Sometimes domestic animals or birds are also victimized. The sad fact is that women who have been victimised by these attacks are mostly at the hands of someone known and close to them.
Landmark Judgement
Referring to the compensation to acid victims, the Law Commission, headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, quoted the landmark judgement of the Honourable High Court of Kerala in the State of Karnataka in the Jalahalli Police Station vs. Joseph Rodrigues case (decided on 22 August 2006) wherein the accused was convicted under Section 307 of the IPC and sentenced to imprisonment for life. A compensation of Rs. 2,00,000, in addition to the trial court fine of Rs. 3,00,000, was to be paid by the accused to the victim’s parents. The acid attack deeply scarred the victim’s physical appearance, changed the colour and appearance of her face and left her blind. However, in many cases throughout India, punishment often did not take into account the deliberate and gruesome nature of the attack but only rested on technicalities of injuries. It is apt to recall here that the Law Commission also proposed a law known as ‘Criminal Injuries Compensation Act’ to be enacted as a separate law by the government. This law intends to provide both interim and final monetary compensation to victims of certain acts of violence like rape, sexual assault, acid attacks, etc., and should provide for their medical and other expenses relating to rehabilitation, loss of earnings, etc. Any compensation already received by the victim can be taken into account while computing compensation under this Act.

Pune ST bus driver runs amok killing 8 people, injuring over 30 people and smashing 37 vehicles before he was forcibly brought to a halt by two youths. The man appeared dazed and glassy eyed and was later discovered that he was suffering from schizophrenia, a mental illness. 25 million people suffer from schizophrenia in our country and an attempt is made to rehabilitate them and make them economically…Edit


Pune ST bus driver runs amok killing 8 people, injuring over 30 people and smashing 37 vehicles before he was forcibly brought to a halt by two youths. The man appeared dazed and glassy eyed and was later discovered that he was suffering from schizophrenia, a mental illness. 25 million people suffer from schizophrenia in our country and an attempt is made to rehabilitate them and make them economically…Edit

COPING WITH TRAUMA IN THE SCHOOL SET UP



In 2001 when the 9/11 attacks took place in USA, most of us were glued to the television sets, not realizing that our children who prima face seemed involved in their play were a witness to the trauma and were being affected by it. It mattered little that the incident took place in a different continent, miles away; the trauma was experienced by everyone around the world, including children. I have treated many children and adults alike after the earthquake of Latur in 1993 or more recent still 26/11 in Mumbai and the German bakery attack in Pune who were emotionally suffering after the traumatic terrorist attacks. But one of the most striking of them was this because we often think that a toddler who seems to be engrossed with his play is unaware and thereby immune to such events in our lives.

However, it is a well researched fact that stress is transferred from parents / care givers to children. They may viscerally transmit their own feelings of anxiety, rage and helplessness, and in doing so, colour the child’s internal model of self and the world. When caregivers are threatened or frightening, the intentional human to human quality of the trauma causes more severe negative consequences for the child than trauma from accidental causes (for example, a flood, fire or injury). In truth, however, all trauma may engender feelings of victimization, loss of control, despair and hopelessness and beliefs that the world is unsafe and life unfair. Young trauma victims often come to believe there is something inherently wrong with them, that they are at fault, unlovable, hateful, helpless and unworthy of protection and love. Such feelings lead to poor self image, self abandonment, and self destructiveness. Ultimately, these feelings may create a victim state of body mind spirit that leaves the child/adult vulnerable to subsequent trauma and re victimization.
In my next group Play Therapy session I saw to the trauma unfold itself. Rohan, 2 years old was a toddler having difficulty adjusting to the play school and was referred to me by the play school. He had been coming to me for the past 2 months and was gradually transferred to group play therapy sessions as he was now seemingly adjusting to the school. That day I was shocked at the emerging theme in the play session. As usual the 5 children assembled on the mattress and removed individual toys to play with. Shilpa started playing with blocks. Suddenly Rohan who was playing with an aeroplane and was keeping an eye on that Shilpa was making a tower; ran towards her with his hands outstretched and banged his plane on the tower that she had made and breaking instantaneously into hysterical laugh once the tower fell. Tears filled Shilpa’s eyes and she started crying softly while the others looked on. I was surprised by Rohan’s behavior as he had never in the past shown any signs of aggression, usually keeping to himself and playing with his cars / aeroplanes. I encouraged him to verbalize what he was playing and he referred to the bombings of the twin towers.

Play is a very powerful and natural medium through which children communicate. What happened in the group play session was an enactment of what the Rohan was observing around him. Enactment such as this helps children to understand the complex world around them. It also helps them to grasp and cope with difficult emotions of elders as well as their own reactions. In play children feel safe enough to demonstrate all this as it is an indirect manner of communication. Play session also helps them to work out their emotions and replace some with more constructive manner of communication. Instead of reprimanding the child (as usually the caregivers do), the play therapist attempts to understand the play and communicate the same to the child. This helps him to develop a thinking awareness about himself giving him the possibility to choose his actions. The failure of caregivers to sufficiently protect a child may be experienced as betrayal and further contribute to the adversity of the experience and effects of trauma. Traumatic stress may be transmitted by parents to their children.

School Principal and teachers play the role of care givers in school. Their function therefore goes much beyond the traditional belief of imparting knowledge or looking after their physical safety. Incident such as the recent attack by the MNS workers on the principal of DAV school can be quite traumatic for the children. This is especially true when the conflict is against the authorities (caregivers/ teachers / Parents) who are supposed to look after them. Children’s sense of safety both physical and emotional is thereby severely disturbed. If this is an ongoing conflict, the disturbance is more; effects of which mimic those of children of divorce. Those who are not addressed directly by the caregivers and kept in the dark face greater stress. Their curious minds seek information available through grape vines and media, leaving them more confused, misinformed and feeling disoriented. When the caregivers, in this case the principal and teachers directly impart information about the incident and address their anxieties, it reinstills faith in the protector’s ability to safeguard the child. Schools need to think along these lines too along with the safety drill. Just doing the terror drill without providing the emotional support needed by the topmost schools leaves a huge gap in the holistic development of the child.

Posttraumatic symptoms may encompass one or more of a broad range of behaviors, including the following:
§ Difficulty sleeping, eating, digesting, eliminating, breathing or focusing
§ A heightened startle response and hyper alertness
§ Agitation and overarousal, or underarousal, withdrawal or dissociation
§ Avoidance of eye contact and/or physical contact
§ Terrified responses to sights, sounds or other sensory input that remind the child of the traumatic experience(s),
§ Preoccupation with or re-enactment of the traumatic experience
Reestablishing safety or creating it for the first time involves setting up an external structure that provides a predictable, consistent routine for a child/youth and making sure their basic physical, emotional and social needs are met. Thus having their normal school routine is crucial. This also means to pay emotional attention to the individual child’s needs and allowing them to express their emotions in an appropriate manner. This could be done by the counsellor or a professional play therapist in group therapy sessions which could be short term weekend session or divided into 4 sessions spanned over the next one month.
Play therapy plays an important role in healing trauma victims, children use play powerfully to better emote their feelings rather than talk about them. It also provides an emotional distance to the children necessary to express threatening and negative emotions and thoughts. Thus through the use of play, we can reach out to both the younger children and the teenagers alike. Unfortunately this is a language that we as parents and teachers, have long forgotten and need to relearn it in order to understand what our child is feeling to help them.
This play way is used by a therapist trained in Play therapy to help children and parents understand and deal with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It aims to increase resilience and self esteem within each child enabling him / her to use this as a springboard to deal with difficulties in real world more confidently and to bridge the communication and emotional gap created by the trauma.

UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOOD AND EMOTIONS



We subconsciously associate food with nurturing. Tasty food brings about a sense of deep gratification and we associate it with filling a hungry gap, rewarding ourselves for effort spent or simply a good social time.

Due to our strong mind-body connection we literally program our living cells moment to moment via our thoughts and especially our feelings. If you find yourself running for something to eat every time you feel emotionally upset, disappointed or hurt, you might be a comfort eater and use food to lift your mood. If you are really keen on changing negative food habits, the place to begin is to understand what food represents emotionally to you. Without this, any diet change will only be temporary and but fail to induce life style change and the weight will eventually come back.

Comfort foods, like chocolate and biscuits or starchy foods, increase the body’s natural feel-good neurotransmitter, seretonin. Unfortunately like all quick fixes and addictions, the instant gratification is soon followed by a strong sense of guilt and feeling like a failure, which brings on depression. Thus for a person suffering from depression related obesity, you need to take care of the depression first or simultaneously with the diet regime inorder to ensure successful weight reduction and maintainence.

Just as, common cold cannot be cured by treating only the symptoms of cold such as sneezing or irritation in the nostril but requires the infection to be taken care of first and the symptoms will cease on its own. Similarly diets without understanding the reason for the obesity are sure to fail. The saying goes that inside every fat person is a thin person dying to come out. Psychologists call this inner person your “inner child” which probably needed a lot of cover up at some point in time in order to deal with difficult life circumstances. If we connect with this inner child and become aware of what causes him/her to run for the fridge in the first place, we can start to reprogram ourselves by tending to our real hurts and needs instead.

Take “LILA” for example, who was sexually abused as a child. She grew up to be an attractive and voluptuous woman. Yet every time a man leered at her she felt shame and repulsion. Lila started eating, subconsciously motivated to put on weight as a barrier between her and the outside world and also to hide her curvaceous figure in order to avoid lecherous stares. Yet at the same time she has grown accustomed to using her sexuality to control and manipulate men.
Lila’s primal need is for respect, love and healthy affection from an intimate relationship, yet she is programmed to associate intimacy with sexuality and thereby she keeps compromising herself sexually in order to get her basic needs for love “fulfilled”. This discrepancy between her need for respect and love versus her tendency to self-sacrifice in sexual behavior increases her sense of shame and the need for her inner child to resort to various defense mechanisms as well as her compulsive eating disorder.
Lila needs to honor and respect herself by focusing on what really makes her happy. She needs to practice hobbies and develop talents where she could meet men who share the same interests and value her for other qualities than just her (physical) body. Lila also needs to change her attitude towards men as sexual predators in order to break free from meeting the “wrong” type of men who perpetuate her one-sided perception and overemphasis on sexuality. Thus the cycle keeps on repeating itself and keeps her entrapped in her negative habits.

For many people, like Lila, food has become a means to self-destructive behavior or self-punishment. Research indicates that sexual abuse victims often feel responsible, shame and guilt for the abuse. In order to cope with these emotions our mind unconsciously replays them in various circumstances in hope to resolve this trauma. Thus, in Lila’s case self punishment is an unconscious motive attained and re experienced via obesity.

There is another unconscious motive. Obesity also makes her appear not so attractive and therefore less likely to be sexually abused. Thus we derive some benefit from our seemingly troubling behavior. That is, “symptoms” or “issues” can be construed as both “maladaptive” and “adaptive”. At first glance, symptoms look maladaptive, but closer scrutiny reveals that in some way, the individual “benefits” from them. That is, in some way the individual is protected by her “symptoms”. In effect, the “symptoms” represent a solution to a problem, albeit a far-from-ideal solution. The maladaptive aspects of “unwanted” behaviors are easy to recognize.

We need to ask ourselves what it is that we dislike so much in ourselves that we need to punish ourselves. Why are we so hard on ourselves that the simple bit of self-discipline required to stop eating when we are full, becomes such a difficult task that we would rather abandon all reason and give over to our rebellious inner child? By becoming aware of how and when we felt trapped under excessive discipline and criticism in our past, we can break the pattern of such an unnecessary authority that we’ve subconsciously internalized. Pay attention to your real needs. Are they really excessive or out of line? Wouldn’t a different approach of gentle encouragement and the focus on our good qualities have better results in our behavior?

Another reason why we put on weight is when our nurturing needs as an infant, baby or child were not met. Our mother may, unintentionally and very well meaning, either fed us too often and too much or too seldom and little or simply the wrong kinds of food in order to entice us to do something or to reward us. This lack of being in sync with the child’s natural needs, may lead the child to experience anxiety and the inability to perceive the natural call of hunger and sense of satiety.

Often this goes hand in hand with an overprotective or controlling mother towards whom we always feel indebted or striving to please in our behavior. Our inner child feels neglected and not understood, so we grow up trying to please through our “doing” instead of realizing how lovable we are in just “being” ourselves.
Are you able to say “No” when you don’t feel up to a request? We might struggle to communicate our feelings and needs and have problems with our personal boundaries allowing people to take advantage of us and then becoming resentful afterwards. And guess what, the quickest relief again becomes the fridge or some stacked chocolate bar.
There are many more reasons why people become obese. What I am suggesting is that before we look for the quickest and easiest diet available to lose weight, we must first make sure we are happy wholesome human beings, and love the body that we’re in despite it’s extra few bulges and curves.

Next time you run for the fridge, ask yourself:
 How do I feel right now?
 What is my reason for wanting to eat something?
 Is the food that I am about to consume really beneficial and nourishing to my body or am I trying to substitute food for feeling hurt, frustrated, angry, disappointed, bored etc?

Have a notepad ready in the kitchen and write down your feelings and motivation for eating.
This simple exercise will break the habit of compulsive eating and will buy you those few extra minutes which enables your conscious mind to intervene.

The exercise above provides you with a framework for thinking about the meaning of a puzzling symptom. At first blush, these questions seem ludicrous 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 “symptom”. Give yourself a timeframe for overcoming your “symptom” or achieving your goal. If after your most assiduous 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.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY



Ramesh (37 years old) had been coming for therapy for depression for a week now. One evening he came for the session really frustrated. He asked tentatively whether loss of memory could be due to his depression or the related antidepressants that he was given by his psychiatrist. He then went on to explain that he had excellent memory as far as numbers were concerned, so much so that as a child he could remember almost all 49 children’s marks in the class as the teacher called them out aloud before handing over the papers. Yet the previous evening when he had to give his new office number to his very important client he could not just get it right. It almost cost him his contract as the client got offended.

When I asked him when he started noticing this forgetfulness in him, he mentioned that a little before his divorce 3 years ago he had been noticing his forgetfulness but had been too emotionally wrapped up to pay further attention to it. He now realizes that the forgetfulness has been increasing over the years. Initially he thought that he was preoccupied and later brushed it off as a sign of early ageing and even hereditary. But yesterday’s incident was disturbing him.

First and foremost any physical disorder needs to be eradicated. Secondly causal factors as well as the mechanism of forgetting need to be understood. Usually mental decline begins by the age of 40 or 50. However people who are undergoing high emotional stress for an extended period of time also experience these symptoms as early as in their 30’s. Some of the stressors one cannot do away with given the stressful and competitive environment we live in, however we can counter them with certain changes in lifestyle. Health conscious people interested in living quality life introduce yoga/ physical exercises to their routine along with dietary changes. Similarly for mental health one needs to introduce what is called Neurobics in their life, a mental gym. Also contrary to popular belief, the mental decline most people experience is not due to the steady death of nerve cells. Instead, it usually results from the thinning out of the number and complexity of dendrites, the branches on nerve cells that directly receive and process information from other nerve cells that forms the basis of memory. Dendrites receive information across connections called synapses. If connections aren’t regularly switched on, the dendrites can atrophy.

The function of memory is primarily carried out by the cortex and the hypothalamus in the brain. Hypothalamus is the emotional seat of the brain. Anything which is emotionally laden is usually easier to recall, however if there is a flood of emotions it leads to confusion however if this flood continues for extended period of time, it can even cause atrophy in dendrites. This reduces the brains ability to put new information into memory as well as to retrieve old information. The good news is that aging brain, however, continues to have a remarkable ability to grow, adapt, and change patterns of connections. Therefore establishing associations and new pathways for connection have a healing effect on the brain.

The exercise program calls for presenting the brain with nonroutine or unexpected experiences using various combinations of your physical senses—vision, smell, touch, taste, and hearing—as well as your emotional “sense.” It stimulates patterns of neural activity that create more connections between different brain areas and causes nerve cells to produce natural brain nutrients, called neurotrophins, that can dramatically increase the size and complexity of nerve cell dendrites. Neurotrophins make surrounding cells stronger and more resistant to the effects of aging. Also, using multisensory approach, retrieving from the memory becomes easier with a web of associations supporting the matter. More often than not, adults don’t exploit the brain’s rich potential for multisensory associations. Think of a baby encountering a rattle. She’ll look at it closely, pick it up, and run her fingers around it, shake it, listen to whether it makes a sound, and then most likely stick it in her mouth to taste and feel it with her tongue and lips. The child’s rapidly growing brain uses all of her senses to develop the network of associations that will become her memory of a rattle. Adults miss out on this multisensory experience of new associations and sensory involvement because we tend to rely heavily on only one or two senses. As we grow older, we find that life is easier and less stressful when it’s predictable. So we tend to avoid new experiences and develop routines around what we already know and feel comfortable with. By doing this, we reduce opportunities for making new associations to a level that is less than idea. Simultaneous sensory input creates a neural “safety net” that traps information for future access.

Social interactions are also non routine and therefore socializing has similar effect. However we find more often than not that people who are undergoing emotional stress / depression want to be left alone and withdraw from social contacts. Is it any wonder why Psychiatrists suggest going for a walk rather that doing a fitness workout alone in your gym? Going for a walk allows one to experience all 5 senses and also provides the brain with social nutrients necessary to heal the brain.

Here are some of the ways in which you can use mental gym to improve on your memory:

1. Involve one or more of your senses in a novel context.
By blunting the sense you normally use, force yourself to rely on other senses to do an ordinary task. For instance: Get dressed for work with your eyes closed. Eat a meal with your family in silence.
Or combine two or more senses in unexpected ways: Listen to a specific piece of music while smelling a particular aroma.

2. Engage your attention. To stand out from the background of everyday events and make your brain go into alert mode, an activity has to be unusual, fun, surprising, engage your emotions, or have meaning for you. Turn the pictures on your desktop upside down. Take your child, spouse, or parent to your office for the day.

3. Break a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way.
(Novelty just for its own sake is not highly Neurobic.)
Take a completely new route to work. Shop at a road side market instead of a supermarket. Normally, placing a key in a lock uses vision and “motor memory”—an unconscious “map” in the parts of our brain that control movement—which provides an ongoing feedback that allows us to sense where parts of our body are in space. (This is called the proprioceptive sense.)

Neurobics is recommended as a lifestyle choice, not a crash course or a quick fix. Simply by making small changes in your daily habits, you can turn everyday routines into “mind-building” exercises. It’s like improving your physical state by using the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to the store instead of driving.

Ramesh worked on these mental gym exercises for about 6 months and started regaining confidence in himself and also noticed his stress reducing, life feeling more meaningful, increase in interest and involvement in routine as well as novel things and social interactions and in general an elevated mood.

DEALING WITH JEALOUSY IN YOUR MARRIAGE



As Akash explains his marital relationship, there are tears brimming in his eyes. He looks down, unable to look the therapists in eye as he talks about why his marriage was not consummated even though they had been married for nearly 4 years now. They met at a wedding and he was instantly drawn towards Alka. Before the week ended he proposed to Alka through a common family friend. Alka and Akash met a couple of times before they committed to get married. As they courted, Akash sensed that Alka seemed disinterested in him and he asked her about her lack of enthusiasm, but she brushed it aside. They got married shortly and didn’t get much time to discuss this further in all the wedding preparations.
The wedding night Alka seemed to be very scared of sexual intercourse and Akash thinking that she will overcome it as time goes by, focused on making her feel comfortable in his joint family. Despite Alka’s efforts to be an ideal wife and Akash’s efforts to break the ice between the family members and Alka, she was unable to mingle with her family. Soon there began arguments which turned into huge fights between his mother and Alka. Initially he tried to explain to Alka that his mother used strong words to express her disappointments and that if she just let things be, it would help bridge gaps. But Alka was unable to digest this and started withdrawing and/ or getting righteous whenever she was criticized. Often they would end up in an argument wherein Alka felt that Akash was unable to stand up for himself and her. She complained of feeling unprotected in the family environment and they decided to move out on their own to maintain peace, sanity and intimacy in his marriage.
He got the desired benefits and they became closer to each other in their own house. Alka also started coming out of her shell and shared her feelings of how she thought that Akash was very naïve and not smart. He felt extremely hurt initially but also started matching up with her expectations of a husband. So he started learning dance, grooming himself well and even life coaching for his business. They now seemed to share some fun moments, however he was perpetually falling short of her expectations. He seemed to have gotten out of his mothers rows of criticism only to fall in love with a person who only could match his mother in being critical.
Soon he started feeling insecure and jealous of all his friends and cousins who seemed to evoke respect and / or interest of his wife. He found himself often in the periphery of their life events and withdrew further into his depression. He would often wonder with whom his wife talks to when he was at office. So he started giving ‘surprises’ to his wife when she least expected to check on her activities. On one such visit, he found his cousin cum business partner and wife in a compromising position. This is when he totally lost his faith and he started hurling abuses at her and at the same time criticizing himself. She unable to bear the abuse in a no – love marriage decided to move out into a rented apartment by herself. This made him even more insecure. He started begging and pleading at times in hope of getting her back and at other times he would shower her with violent abuses.
He blamed himself viciously for the break up of the marriage at times in his therapy and at other times he felt absolutely justified as she seemed to have evoked / instigated all this. It was now at a point wherein he did not know how mend their marriage. He was unable to forgive or forget her. He felt like an animal and was ashamed and scared as well as angry. Let us look at some of the theories to understand how and what this jealousy is and how one can overcome it.
Jealousy is a complex monster that develops from the melding of three other emotions – fear, anger and love. Romantic jealousy can be defined as “a perception of a threat of loss of a valued relationship to a real or imagined rival”. Jealousy in committed relationships is cultural and universal as a boundary-setting mechanism to protect certain relationships as important and exclusive. to protect the relationship of physical intimacy and self-disclosure from trespassers. In fact, all committed relationships, where physical and emotional intimacy exists (including purely sexual relationships), will be subjected to jealousy. Early attachment problems with significant others are known to profoundly affect feeling secure in future relationships, particularly the capacity to initiate and maintain loving relationships in adulthood. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.
According to the attachment theory of love, an adult becomes a secure lover, avoidant lover or an anxious-ambivalent lover in his or her romantic relationships based on the quality of his or her childhood parental relationship. Secure lovers are people who are comfortable with intimacy and have no problems with others feeling close to them. In contrast, avoidant lovers feel uneasy when close to another person. They have difficulty trusting or depending upon a partner. The third type, anxious-ambivalent lovers want to desperately get close to a partner, but often find that the partner does not reciprocate the feeling. This insecure relationship is often due to too much anxiety within the relationship stemming from the feeling that the partner does not really love them.
When “paranoia” or extreme distrust, arises in a relationship there are many factors which can be causing it. It is absolutely necessary to understand where these feelings are coming from, or else it is easy to act out in the relationship, blame the partner, put all kinds of unhealthy demands upon him, and even believe that he is cheating on you when he is not. Not only does this destroy his trust in himself and good feelings about himself, but he can easily grow to feel there is no way he can please you, or make you secure and happy.

When an individual gives into these feelings of paranoia, (or extreme fear, suspiciousness and jealousy,) and begins to create more and more restrictions upon the partner, or demand more and more information about what he is doing, this is often the beginning of the end.

Loving another person does not mean possessing them, or having them there simply to help you feel better about yourself. This does not take their needs into account. It is not loving or respectful of them, of who they are.

In all relationships each individual needs time alone, time with friends and of course time together. When we take away a person’s individuality and freedom to enjoy all aspects of their lives and grow, we are not behaving in a loving way. Sooner or later the individual begins to feel it, and can feel trapped, misunderstood and blamed falsely. Naturally, they then often think of ways of getting out of a relationship such as this.
Much like infidelity, distrust can leave an indelible mark on a relationship and challenge even the strongest of marriages. Depending on a variety of circumstances, such as whether or not distrust and dishonesty have become a constant in the relationship, couples can work through past hurts to become closer together if both are committed to making positive changes.

If one requires that their partner take away the pain they are feeling, they will be disappointed sooner or later. They are looking in the wrong direction. No matter how loving a person is, no matter how solid the relationship, they cannot take away pain and confusion that exists within oneself. We have to take responsibility for our feelings and work them through on our own. Psychotherapy is an insight oriented process and helps couples achieve this. Do not hesitate to take professional help of a psychotherapist if you find yourself going around in circles.
Handling insecurity and jealousy in a relationship can be difficult. However, change is possible once you understand their underlying causes. In order to overcome insecurity, people need to:

* Be willing to be put in vulnerable positions in life where they might get hurt.
* Take risks to change their current behavior.
* Trust others enough to expose themselves to them, risking vulnerability and the possibility of being hurt.
* Have a healthy and humorous belief in themselves in order to overlook their exaggerated need for acceptance and approval.
* Take a rational approach to each problem they face so that they are no longer inhibited by debilitating fears or beliefs.
* Practice assertive behavior in their lives, earning respect and the acknowledgment of their rights.
* Arouse the courage to take small steps in learning to experience success and overcoming their lack of belief in self. Once the success is experienced, they can build on it to gain the courage to act out of a strong conviction in their self-goodness and worth.
* Break the barrier or outer shell of the self-doubt they have hidden behind and reach out to others. Breaking out of their “shells” requires letting go of past hurts (real or imagined) and moving on with life.
* Open themselves to the possibility of success and accomplishment. Visualize or make a prophecy of winning at life so their energies are focused in a growth direction.
* Reward themselves for who they are and capitalize on their strengths, attributes, skills and competencies.

Answer the following questions to handle insecurity:
a. What behavior traits signal my insecurity?
b. What happened in my past to make me insecure?
c. What are some of my beliefs that account for my insecurity?
d. What are some negative consequences I’ve experienced due to my insecurity?
e. What behavior traits do I need to develop in order to overcome my insecurity?

Even in a loving and open relationship, it is normal to experience some paranoia or doubt. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed with distrust and suspicion, it’s time to confront your spouse. Whether he or she is guilty or not, it is important that you clear your conscience and put yourself at peace.
Confront your spouse but avoid making accusations at all costs. Your spouse will automatically react defensively, and if you are wrong, which you very well may be, you run the risk of making some painful and potentially permanent dents in your relationship. It is never a good idea to hurl unfounded accusations at your spouse. Instead, approach him or her with compassion and trust. Tell your spouse that you have been experiencing some worries in your relationship. Make sure and let your spouse know that you are approaching him or her out of love and a genuine concern for your relationship. It is extremely important that you do not attack them or judge them before finding out all of the facts. Specify what concerns you, keeping in mind not to accuse.
Accordingly, if your spouse is the one experiencing doubt, the most important thing to remember is that he or she is simply concerned out of love for you. Instead of immediately lashing out in defense, take time to consider what your spouse is saying and consider how it might make you feel if the situation were reversed. Instead of getting offended, be compassionate and empathetic. Your spouse will calm down when he or she sees that you have truly have nothing to hide. A defensive response, even if you are not guilty, makes you look as if you’re trying to divert attention from the issue at hand.
Doubt in a relationship has serious and obvious consequences, and you and your spouse must work together to eradicate these feelings and concerns. Jealousy is a very strong emotion and often a culprit in leading to marriage breakups. It helps if there are intense emotions and hurts to take help of a psychotherapist who can sit down with both of you to help each of you gain objective insights into your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours which are causing this drift in your marriage and help you both arrive at a solution.

Enhancing communication and intimacy in marraige



Even in the strongest of relationships, there will be times when small irritations can cause mountains to grow out of molehills, so it’s important to keep striving for better communication. Good communication involves both partners being aware of their own thoughts and feelings and expressing them in an open, clear way. When a person communicates effectively, there is congruence between their inner experience and their outward expression.
As the essence of relationships, communication has a great impact on every aspect of life. Yet the channels of communication can sometimes become blocked, even among people who care deeply for each other. It’s often difficult to put our feelings into words or concentrate fully when our partner speaks. Unhelpful silences or verbal attacks can arise and drive us further apart.
Common barriers to communication include: threatening or unpleasant behavior such as criticism and bossiness; only hearing what we want to hear; getting bored or distracted; and not expressing our point clearly. Fortunately, working on our communication skills helps us to break through this sort of impasse. So follow these tried and tested tips to stop you reaching for the expletives and reach an understanding instead.
No matter what else is going on, try to make time for your partner on a day-to-day basis. Good communication is about deepening your understanding of each other, not simply avoiding arguments. Easier said than done, of course, but making time to talk is worth the effort. All being well, these occasions will be enjoyable and bring great rewards, so make a dinner date, share a bath or go for a walk together and let the conversation flow.
Secondly, remember the importance of intimate, non-sexual contact. Hugs and kisses are the glue which holds a relationship together, and consider activities such as sport to reconnect non-verbally. Psychologists believe the vast majority of communication takes place without words through body language.
Do you believe you know everything there is to know about your partner? It may be worth checking this out by asking them questions to reveal more about themselves. To deepen the communication and understanding between you, try talking about the times when you feel happiest or your hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way you do.
This could bring up relationship ‘hot spots’ – work, money, childcare – which can then be dealt with openly. Experts suggest setting up reciprocal arrangements in which you both agree to take on an equal number of tasks and chores.
Arguments and disagreements between husbands and wives are normal. However, prolonged anger, frustration and resentment are not healthy for the relationship. What couples should engage in is arguing positively whenever conflicts in the marriage arise.
Edit the Argument
Refrain from saying out loud every single angry thought during an argument. Sometimes, talking about sensitive topics can turn really ugly if everything is let out. Couples who edit their arguments are consistently much happier than those who don’t.
Start Argument Gently
Stay positive. Bring up problems gently instead of in an accusing and sarcastic tone. Don’t start the argument as if you are preparing yourself for a big battle. When the tone is non-confrontational and the starting point has been given a lot of thoughts, the chances of the other person listening positively also increase.
Set High Standards in the Relationship
Successful married couples usually practice zero tolerance for hurtful behavior from each other, even when they were newly married. The lower the tolerance level for bad behavior in the early stages of the relationship, the happier the couple will be later on.
End the Argument Constructively
It’s common to see couples shouting at each other and ending the quarrel without any real solution, leaving both parties feeling drained and resentful. This can be prevented by learning to repair and exit the argument.
For instance, before the argument goes completely out of hand, change the subject, use humor, make caring and considerate remarks or show that you are both on the same side. If it’s too heated, call for a time-out. Agree to talk about the issue at another time.
Stay Positive
Happily married couples make at least five times as many positive remarks to and about each other as negative ones whenever they discuss an issue. So focus on the good side instead of the bad. In the heat of the moment, try to stay calm and accentuate the positive. See the other’s point of view while showing respect, and then look for a compromise that you can both accept. Listen carefully, give empathy and positive responses, and overlook the insults. Respond to criticism as useful information, if at all possible! Remember, the objective is not to stop every argument but to stop the escalating bitterness.
Give each other chance to constructively talk
Often couple either using emotions or anger do not allow the other to talk. This further adds to frustration. Give space for the other to talk and empathize by repeating the same sentence using the key words of what the spouse has said.

Accept Influence
To succeed in a marriage, a husband needs to be able to accept influence from his wife. Most women have no problem accepting influence from their husbands but for most men, this is something they need to learn.. A real partnership exists only when both husband and wife can influence one another in the same manner.
It’s alright to argue every now and then in a marriage. In fact, arguments help keep the marital relationship strong and healthy. The trick is to argue positively and constructively. Editing the anger, starting arguments gently, refusing to accept bad behavior towards each other, exiting the argument properly, focusing on positive statements and accepting influence from each other are strategies that smart couples use to stay happily married amidst arguments.
Accept responsibility of your emotions and thoughts
If you find yourself slipping into an argument, there are many ways to keep the row healthy. Most importantly, own your emotions by using “I” statements. For example, rather than “You make me angry,” or “This is all your fault,” try saying, “I feel concerned/upset…”. This keeps things calmer and makes it easier to compromise, as your partner will not become so defensive. Then keep to the point rather than slipping into attack and counter-attack, or emotional withdrawal. But talking this way is only possible if you are aware of your own feelings. For this, you must recognize them, be accepting of them, and able to express them. We each have our own way of dealing with conflicts – your style may be to avoid the issue, give in, or blame the other person. Being aware of your style and that of your partner will help you resolve the situation.
If either partner gets beyond the point of being civil and rational, ask for a “time-out” to calm down. But be sure to agree on continuing the discussion when you have had time to think about it.
Bear in mind that one of the secrets of happy couples is learning to tolerate or accept the other person’s faults. So-called “perfect relationships” do not exist, therefore small faults need to be accepted. Couples counseling encourages reaching an acceptance of one another through compassion and empathy, so you both come to truly understand the other person and become able to share your own feelings in depth. Then you can see the underlying reasons for their criticism or silence, perhaps they are really feeling unloved, rejected or hurt.
Having awareness of these techniques and skills is only half the battle – you need to develop them through practice until they become second nature. It will be an effort to change long-standing habits, but improving communication in your relationship is worth doing, as poor communication is one of the top causes of unhappy relationships.

UNDERSTANDING COMMITMENT ISSUES IN A COUPLE



Fear of commitment? Why am I still single? You are doing the work that you love for a good salary. Your career is on track. Now, you’ve decided that you’d like to do something about your personal life. You are thinking about a committed relationship or marriage and maybe children. You are accustomed to articulating your goals and achieving them. You take personal stock. You have a lot going for you. You are attractive, personable, fun, smart and outgoing. You think that you have met Mr. or Ms. Right. You share common interests, common friends and common ideas and, you believe, common goals. Then somehow, much to your dismay, things go awry. You learn that your partner isn’t interested in marital vows. Or worse still I notice that I am getting involved in relationships where the only common thread is that I am being ditched / cheated by my partner, basically my partner is unable to remain committed to me.
Whether you were several months into the relationship or several years, that kind of disappointment is truly hurtful. Its worse, if this is not the first time. This is not something that you want to repeat. So, you talk it over with your closest friends, the ones who you really trust. And, to your surprise, many of them admit that they saw the warning signs but “didn’t think that it was their place to say anything”, especially because it seemed so trivial incident or because you were so strong on the relationship and didn’t want to hurt you.
You’re a little miffed because you wish they would have said something. But, you can understand why they might feel that that would backfire. And too, you wonder, why didn’t you see those elusive warning signs. After all, they were apparently obvious to everyone else. You note that you are generally a perceptive person — can readily see the foibles in the relationships of others. So, what has happened here? And, how can you prevent it from, ever, happening again.
As you talk it over with your friends they each give you a list of “warning signs”. “Don’t date anyone over 35 who has never been married,” one cautions. Don’t date anyone who hasn’t had a previous long-term relationship another warns. As well intended as they may be, the lists may lead to a mis-focus. Because the real thing to consider here is probably not the “mate-selection” process that is important, rather, it is: why have you, although probably unconsciously, been drawn to someone who is unavailable. Assuming that you are a bright, competent person, this is probably not a problem of the “wrong list”. You might think of the problem with “mate-selection” as a symptom of something else that has gone awry. Think of it as the tip of the iceberg. That is, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Fear of commitment lies beneath the surface
If you have chosen a partner who turns out to be unavailable more than once, chances are there’s a reason why you chose someone who is unavailable. It’s painful to think about. The good news is as painful thinking about it can be: thinking about it, rather than sweeping it under the rug and going blithely along to the next relationship can allow you to understand it. And, understanding it can allow you not to repeat it. You can address and/or overcome it, and truly move toward the kind of relationship that you seek.
So, why are you, in effect, playing tricks on yourself? Although each individual and each situation is unique, odds are, as strange as it sounds, there may be a part of you who truly wants a relationship and another part of you, a less conscious part, who does not. That is, there may very well be a part of you who has a fear of commitment. As a starting point to your self-discovery process, ask yourself a difficult question, “what are the advantages to NOT being in a relationship?” And, in what ways do you have fear of commitment? At first blush, most people see these as ludicrous questions. If the answers were immediately apparent, you would have already dealt with them. Why aren’t you in a committed relationship and what can you do to overcome your fears. These reasons may include:
1. You are terrified of intimacy.
People who are terrified of intimacy may not always be, consciously, aware of it. If you grew up in a household in which your parents behaved in ways that were hurtful to each other, to you or to a brother or sister than you may be more afraid of intimacy than you realize. This is an extremely common problem among successful young professionals who often become quite successful in their careers. Without realizing it, they allow their careers to take precedence over their lives. Work becomes to the worker as alcohol is to the alcoholic; balm to soothe the anxiety and fear. Of course, this sort of “workaholism”, quite common here in Washington, is highly rewarded. Workaholism can be a cover for a fear of commitment.
2. You don’t feel that you deserve a relationship.
This is a close cousin to the fear of intimacy. Many people, who are otherwise successful in life, do not feel that they deserve a relationship. Unfortunately, most of the time, though not always, this belief is unconscious. Thus, it is difficult to learn more about it and to resolve it. Often this type of belief comes from experiences in childhood. The person may feel responsible for something bad that happened in the family such as the death of a parent or a sibling, or the illness or drug or alcohol problem of a parent. Alternatively, the basis for the guilt might be far more subtle such as guilt for resenting a needy or vulnerable parent or sibling. Similarly, individual may feel guilty over outstripping a parent or sibling.
3. You fear that any relationship is destined to end in hurt or failure.
Another cousin to the first two apprehensions is the belief, again unconscious, that any relationship will end in failure or loss. This is a common concern among people who moved around a lot as children, such as those with parents in the military or in an industry where such moves were required. These people often report that every time they began to make friends and become emotionally invested they were, often over their strenuous objections, forced to uproot themselves. For some these moves were so painful that they learned to make only superficial attachments. Also, this is a common problem among individuals who had significant early losses such as a loss of a parent through death or divorce. It is important to note that the loss does not necessarily entail an actual separation, it could entail a loss of a role or status. It’s understandable that individuals with this tyoe of experience have a fear of intimacy.
4. You don’t know much about what you think and feel. Consequently, you are unable to use your reactions as a guide.
Often times people who come for psychotherapy or counseling know little about what they think and feel. People with this difficulty typically report, “I don’t know why I have these problems. I had a very happy childhood”. They may have had a stressful childhood but they have denied that to themselves. Such individuals became proficient, at an early age, at turning off painful feelings. They may avoid painful feelings by throwing themselves into activities in which they are busy and successful such as work and sports. Unfortunately, not knowing much about what you think and/or feel has serious drawbacks inasmuch as feelings and thoughts often inform and guide important decisions.
5. You are frightened by the prospect of learning more about some aspect of your sexuality.
Another reason why an individual might select unavailable partners is to avoid learning more about some aspect of their sexuality. An intimate relationship holds the possibility of self-discovery and this can be frightening to many people.
So if you are afraid of a committed relationship, if you recognize yourself in one of the descriptions what steps might you take? How do you go about teasing apart the nature of your fear of intimacy?
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What about an intimate relationship do you feel might be hurtful?
2. What is your worst fear?
3. How did your parent’s relationship work? In what ways was it successful? In what ways was it hurtful?
4. What were your relationships with your parents like when you were a small child? In what ways were they loving and supportive? In what ways were they hurtful?
5. Are you, in some way, repeating a script of what you observed with your parents? For example, do you find yourself doing everything and feeling “walked on” like your mother?
The answers to these questions may give you some insight into your fear of commitment. Talk them over with a trusted friend. Sometimes talking with a friend can help us to learn more about ourselves. However, if selecting unavailable people as prospective partners has been a recurring problem for you, seriously consider seeking an consultation with a therapist. These intensive treatments allow individuals to develop the requisite trust to deepen their understanding of themselves so that they can make real and enduring changes.
Why do some people have profound difficulties with commitment while others seem to embrace it? True commitment can come about only when one has a clear sense of oneself. That is, a person knows who they are and what they want and need is more available for a committed relationship. Many single people intuitively recognize this and choose to work on themselves prior to entering into a committed relationship. Also, a committed relationship isn’t for everyone. Some who know themselves well find it deeply enriching to take a solo flight. The key here is: just as individuals can remain unpartnered as a way of avoiding a host of painful experiences, they can marry or partner for a host of defensive reasons, such as avoiding aloneness or self-discovery. Self-understanding can help one to recognize when marriage or partnering is a growing experience and when it is a way of avoiding knowing oneself.