Varsha Bhosle’s Suicide….A psychological perspective


Warning bells for depressed clients:

Person turns recluse
Shows little or no interest in the on-going activities / personal care
Has a history of previous suicide attempts or talks about wanting to end life
Has recently met with disappointment or failure
Has lost a loved one or moved away from a loved one
Changes in food and / or sleep habits
Increased physical complains
All the above mentioned signs were present in Varsha Bhosle. With a series of disappointments and failures in her life, losing a close friend and associate might have been the last straw which led her to end her life. However how does a caretaker determine in such a long standing case history of a depressed individual and repeated suicide attempts, when is she most likely to commit suicide? Often it so happens that the people around them take their depression as a routine and do not find anything unusually wrong in their behaviour that particular day.

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Dealing with rejection



What makes Priyanka Chopra rejected by the wives of her co actors? Is there really a flaw in her character or is she a victim of the wives’ insecurities. Decide yourself in the article dealing with rejection.
Rejection is experienced as a deep blow to self esteem as it involves blaming you as a person. It is difficult to deal with it because it conveys the message of non-acceptance and that there is something wrong with you and you are not good enough or worse still there is something wrong with you, that you will never change and that you do not belong to this group and you’ve done something wrong or unacceptable. This leaves you with a deep sense of helplessness. There is nothing that you can do to change another person’s biases and perceptions and you are left to deal with all these emotions yourself. More often than not, these perceptions are often backed by societal or religious norms justifying the persons rejection.
Often people who are a victim of rejection keep going in circles feeling victimized and angry and are unable to get over it easily. Psychotherapy helps such individuals to differentiate between what is intrinsic to themselves and that which is not. This goes a long way in handling difficult emotions of rejection. By understanding ones ownself and how one uses psychological defense of projection and introjection one realizes that the emotions thrown into him by the person rejecting actually form the dark and unknown side of the rejecting individual’s personality which is unfortunately being flashed onto your character screen. Although not aware, the person has sense that he can succumb to these very biases and therefore fights it externally whenever he sees it. Unfortunately in the process does not cure himself and accumulates greater fear of the same biases. Therefore no logical argument is able to convince the person to give them up. The reason being, if they give up these biases, maybe there is a fear that he will have to face it within himself. After all isn’t it much easier to fight the devil on an external screen than to have him within yourself.
Equipped with this understanding by experiencing it within ones ownself, the individual is able to detach oneself from the influences of these negative emotions projected on him by the world and is able to restore his self esteem. Of course talking about these emotions forms the initial part of the cathartic therapy but psychotherapy does not stop at that alone. In fact if the therapist is unable to take the client beyond catharsis, the client keeps experiencing the wound in his mind but is unable to come out of it.
Understanding the mechanisms of rejection and knowing that it is never, and I repeat, never warranted or earned are the most fundamental keys to safeguarding your self esteem and sense of self worth. This is a choice. You have to make a choice about how you are going to understand the messages of rejection you receive everyday, and how you are going to, or not going to, integrate these messages into your psyche.
Remember that facing your fears, expressing and sharing your experience, no matter how shameful, is vital in overcoming the aloneness that rejection creates and which sustains its impact.
Make a choice today to focus on the dynamic you and your untapped potential and you will be unscathed by any experiences of rejection.

SURVING CANCER



Being diagnosed with cancer affects a patient not just physiologically but also psychologically, and has a deep impact on the emotional status of the patient and his family for an extended period of time. And while there are treatments for the physiological symptoms of the patient, dealing with the psychological trauma associated with cancer is another story altogether. Cancer is an experience of repeated traumas and for undetermined length, unlike an accident. The patient may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms anytime from diagnosis through completion of treatment and cancer recurrence.

As is seen in the case of our Indian skipper Yuvraj Singh how the misdiagnosis and then the reconfirmation of the cancer must have been a series of highs and lows. Especially for a sportsperson who works under tremendous pressure to be fit and putting out an outstanding performance, trauma such as this can be doubly difficult psychologically rather than physically. Any ones guess would be whether he will be able to return to the stadium fit enough to play his best innings. Here is a glimpse of what he might be undergoing…

Although, the end of treatment is often marked with a sense of relief, accomplishment, and even joy in having gotten through a difficult experience. Yet for many cancer survivors, it is also a stressful time filled with new routines to learn, as well as mixed feelings about what they’ve just gone through. Many people find themselves unsure of how to move forward, wondering, “Now what?” Therefore, effects of PTSD are long-lasting and serious. It does not end with the end of the treatment. It may affect the patient’s ability to have a normal lifestyle and may interfere with personal relationships, education, and employment even after the patient is ‘cured’. Because avoiding places and persons associated with cancer is part of PTSD, the syndrome may prevent the patient from seeking medical treatment or psychotherapy. It is therefore important that cancer survivors and their family receive information about the possible psychological effects of their cancer experience and early treatment of symptoms of PTSD.

Also, as a patient, they may have been so busy learning about their diagnosis, working with the medical team, and going through treatment that they didn’t fully feel the emotional impact of the diagnosis until after end of the treatment. It’s common for many cancer survivors to have a variety of complex and often conflicting feelings about their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. It is normal to feel relieved that treatment is over, yet angry or sad about having gone through such a serious illness. Or, they may feel guilty about surviving a diagnosis that other people do not. The patient may also feel anxious and fearful about the cancer coming back, or worried that the treatment didn’t work. It is normal, too, to feel confused about what they’ve been through and to be concerned about the future. Family and friends can provide much comfort and support during this time. However, survivors often feel a bit isolated from loved ones and the world around them. Loved ones usually mean well, but they might not be fully aware of all the emotional challenges that can arise for you after overwhelming, interfering with your day-to-day activities and even your health.
Another concern faced by many cancer survivors is the realization that life after their diagnosis and treatment never really goes back to what it was before cancer. Many survivors find they are not able to return to their old “normal” life but must adapt to a “new normal.” Understanding what your new normal is can take time. This process may involve: Reflecting on what you’ve been through. Identifying changes you might want to make in your life. Recognizing what you’ve learned and what’s changed about yourself. Re-evaluating personal relationships or professional goals.
Discovering new ways of finding meaning and fulfillment.
In India, we find that patients usually resort to prayer, fasting, performing ceremonies in order to deal with their illness as against proactively seeking information from the doctor, reading up on the net and medical journals, exercising, eating healthy, meditating or seeking professional help to deal with their emotions. (Stress and Coping amongst infertile women Research conducted by Dimple Shah for Mumbai University, 1994.). Although these actions mimic active coping mechanisms, in essence it is passive coping mechanisms resigning pessimistically and blaming fate for their misfortune and instilling deep fear and helplessness, therefore unable to relieve the person of stress. Patients and their family needs to be informed of these inactive and potentially stress inducing coping mechanisms and be guided to utilize proactive coping mechanisms mentioned above from the beginning.

Therapies used to treat PTSD are those used for other trauma victims. Treatment may involve more than one type of therapy. Feelings of sorrow, grief, hopelessness; coupled with mood swings, fear of losing life, leaving behind loved ones and anxiety and depression are very common amongst patients fighting against cancer. Serious psychosocial distress was seen 40% more among cancer survivors of 5 years or more than in those who have never had cancer. About 10% develop major depressive disorder; others experience an adjustment disorder. In young adult cancer survivors, one small study found that 20% of participants met the full clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 45% to 95% displayed at least one symptom of PTSD. Survivors of adult cancer are at an increased risk of suicidal ideology (having thoughts about suicide), while as many as 13% of childhood cancer survivors experience suicidal ideology.

The prognosis of cancer it is proven scientifically that an emotionally stable person reacts better to the medication and treatment modalities of cancer. This is where a person’s inner strength becomes paramount. Yet it is expected that the person who has been diagnosed with cancer will initially at least crumble under the stress of the trauma. Here the key is, the support system that has a tremendous impact to help the patient bounce back to fighting cancer is the family and friends. Psychotherapy from the time of diagnosis to surgery and post treatment is crucial in providing this supporting network. When one member of a family has cancer, the whole family is affected and, in fact, psychotherapists consider these family members to be “secondary patients.” Cancer affects an entire family, not only because there are genetic links to cancer and cancer risk, but because when one member of a family has cancer the whole family must deal with the illness.

The therapist focuses on solving problems, teaching coping skills, and providing a supportive setting for the patient. Some patients are helped by methods that teach them to change their behaviors by changing their thinking patterns. Some of these methods include helping the patient understand symptoms, teaching coping and stress management skills (such as relaxation training), teaching the patient to reward upsetting thoughts, and helping the patient become less sensitive to upsetting triggers. Therapist may also use group work and introspective art therapy help the patient express their emotions. Sometimes having someone paying attention to the painful emotions itself is healing and patients show tremendous resilience once they are able to confide in someone who can demonstrate strength to listen to their pain, which family members are unable to do so at that point of time.

Most importantly cancer trauma, like other life threatening traumas bring back the past and often unconscious hurts and losses and therefore the psychological effect appears long lasting and compounded. Often people close to the patient find the person overreacting and are unable to understand where they are coming from. They feel hurt, angry and confused. But if you make an effort to understand that these emotions of hurt, anger and confusion that you are experiencing are not really incident related or even yours; that they belong to the person who is suffering from cancer you will be better able to deal with both the patient and the emotions thrown into you. Doing this is not as easy as it sounds and this is also where the psychotherapists step in. Psychotherapists help the family to experience and deal with these emotions that are thrown into them and also help them make better response choices. Therefore the psychological treatment on which the prognosis of cancer depends is strengthened using multifaceted psychotherapy approaches. It is beneficial to start with these sessions from the time of diagnosis and continue till post treatment; as although we expect psychological reactions to emerge within the first three months of diagnosis, there is no fixed rule and if not brought into the forefront of therapy may remain suppressed and resurface later on after many years, often with unconceivable strength.
Follow up article on Yuvraj singhs recovery from cancer
https://revivallife.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/surviving-cancer-2/

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.