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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TO WATCH OR TO BE



With the recent incident of the Ministers, watching pornographic film has brought about much ethical debate in the media; however the psychological impact has not been discussed. Sexuality is an issue which profoundly impacts not only an individual but also the family at large. In my experience, with only several exceptions, pornography has been a major or minor contributor or facilitator in the acquisition of their deviation or sexual addiction apart from complete psychological isolation from family. Treatment (psychotherapy) of the same is necessary as it tends to recur as all other means of control used by individual and society fail without an insight into the urge.
I found four factors common to nearly all of my clients, with almost no exceptions, especially in their early involvement with pornography.
1. Addiction
A porn movie becomes an addiction as the material provides a very powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect with powerful imagery as a base of further fantasies, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Once addicted, they could not throw off their dependence on the material by themselves, despite many negative consequences such as divorce, loss of family, and problems with the law (as with sexual assault, harassment or abuse of fellow employees). Interestingly my clinical experience, education is positively correlated with sex addiction; that is to say higher the education and intelligence greater is the person’s vulnerability to sex addiction. Reason being, their finer ability to use their intelligence to fantasize.
2. Escalation
Like drug addicts, sex addicts with the passage of time require rougher, more “kinky” kinds of sexual material to get sexually aroused. If their spouses or girlfriends were involved with them, they eventually pushed their partners into doing increasingly bizarre and deviant sexual activities. They often preferred this sexual imagery, accompanied by masturbation, to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminished their capacity to love and express affection to their partner in their intimate relations. In many cases, this resulted in a fall out in the relationship when the woman refused to go further-often leading to much conflict, separation or even divorce.
3. Desensitization
Material (in books, magazines or film/videos) which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive or immoral, though still sexually arousing, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. There was increasingly a sense that “everybody does it” and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards.

4. Acting Out Sexually
There is alarmingly increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex. This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse–no matter what the negative consequences were in their life.

PORNOGRAPHY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE FAMILY
However, in my clinical experience, the major consequence of being addicted to pornography is not the probability or possibility of committing a serious sex crime (though this can and does occur), but rather it’s disturbance of the fragile bonds of intimate family and marital relationships. This is where the most grievous pain, damage and sorrow occurs. There is repeatedly an interference with or even destruction of healthy love and sexual relationships with long term bonded partners. The most important negative consequence is that it isolates one from one’s own self. The ‘real’ world no longer appears appealing and the individual prefers to be in his own world ultimately severing emotional ties that gives meaning to his own existence. No amount of ‘knowing that its bad’ helps to reverse this habit. It’s like a latent cancer, it almost never disappears on its own or reverses its course unless there is some psychotherapeutic intervention.
PARENTING ISSUES AND PORNOGRAPHY
With the explosion of internet usage parents need to keep in control on the internet usage of their young ones. Their curious mind and age is bound to take them in this direction if left unattended on the net. Pornography films are often dismissed off as ‘educative’ or seen as rebelliousness by care givers. However parents need to be aware that there is tremendous peer pressure on the young adults and they often resort to pornography to be a part of the ‘in’ group or for the purpose of self education. When parents provide scientifically correct and age appropriate sex education to the child from a young age, they squash this curiosity and the chances of their child being misinformed via porn films. In fact sex education classes are conducted in many schools for the same purpose. It is a myth that imparting sex education will increase sexual activity in young adults. Rather as parents and caregivers it is your duty to ensure that the child is well informed about the sexual boundaries and the consequences. In fact in many of the abuse cases that I have handled in my practice, children were unable to protect themselves from further abuse because they felt responsible and guilty of the abuse and were unable to convey their feelings their parents whom they thought they could not talk as it’s a taboo topic or worse still would blame them. Because the topic was never raised by their parents they have nowhere else to talk about but their peers or left on their own for further experimentation.
Watching porn movies has a far outreaching psychological impact, especially on a young adults mind. Most of the porn films are made by men and are often extremely sexist in nature often debasing or humiliating a woman. Therefore children at a very young and impressionable age learn to disrespect women in general and treat them as object of sexual pleasure, have distorted perceptions about sexuality, destroys confidence, commitment and responsibility of an intimate relationship and institution of marriage in particular and making polygamous relationship an acceptable idea. In addition, pornography portrays “unhealthy” or even antisocial kinds of sexual activity such as sadomasochism, abuse and humiliation of the female, involvement of minors, incest, group sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc.
Watching pornographic films over an extended period of time raises a fundamental question of who you become as a person watching it.

Relationship Break-Up – Living in the Void



Let’s be honest. I believe separation, divorce, and relationship break-ups always have a gift to offer us, but the initial breakup period hurts. For most of us, when we’re in relationship, it feels like we’re on solid ground. It may feel comfortable and soft to walk on, or it may be rocky and painful, but at least you know where you stand.
When a relationship ends, we are inevitably launched into a void or abyss, where there’s nothing solid yet to land on. This is when the emotional rollercoaster goes on overdrive. Falling into the void feels disorienting and we don’t know where or when we’re going to land on our feet again.
Living in the void is a critical time to really dance and flow with our feelings. We feel the grief, sadness and loss not only of the person, but the dreams we had and the opportunities that were not yet realized. This grief is intense and overwhelming. Even those who initiate the break-up are not immune from this, although the degree of their emotional suffering is different than those who were left behind.
Inevitably the conclusion was “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it. Oh, no! We have to go through it!” Our healing comes from going through and flowing with our feelings, not bottling them up or denying them.
There is discomfort in the void, often bordering on pain. Literally, our hearts ache. It seethes with anger. It curls up in despair. Yet it’s so important to take time in this vacuum. Emotions live on a spectrum, and when we cap the downside risk of pain, we simultaneously cap the up-side reward of joy and love. If we rush the process of grief we risk leaving some unresolved pain and issues within us that will make an encore appearance in a future relationship.
Imagine when a child develops an infection. It stubbornly grows into a swollen, painful abscess below the skin. Eventually the toxins built up to the point where the abscess burst, releasing the infection in the form of pus. It was the release the doctor was hoping for, but it was nonetheless painful. Yet to complete the healing process for the child, it wasn’t enough. The doctor had to make a small incision in the seeping wound to make it bigger. He had to probe within the wound with medical instruments and disinfectant to ensure all the pus was indeed leaving child’s body. The wound had to be intentionally left open for a few days to ensure that everything drained out so that the healing would be complete.
Just as my doctor selected from various medical instruments to probe the child’s wound, here are some recommendations for how to probe gingerly into our own wounds to ensure a complete healing.
1. Practice pranayam
One strategy I’ve been using effectively is to welcome and breathe into my wounded heart. Make sure you take deep, conscious breaths. Shallow breathing doesn’t allow sufficient oxygen to come into the body and creates stress. Deep belly breaths help to quiet the ego-mind that may begin to start racing with thoughts in an effort to avoid the pain. Breathing deeply while having an emotional moment will help you digest the feelings and be able to restore a sense of calm and grounded ness more quickly.
2. Your Journal is Your sponge
A journal is like a clean, sterile sponge for a seeping wound. A journal is a safe place to collect all of those internal thoughts and feelings that must be released. I would even argue that life in the void requires a journal. Otherwise the unreleased feelings and toxic thoughts that are created in relationship break-up simply continue to run rampant within your consciousness. It is also the doorway to connecting with the wisdom and gift of why you have manifested this situation in the first place. There are no rights and wrongs about how to journal properly. Its job is to provide an arena for catharsis and objectivity.
3. The Medicine of Music
Music is a powerful tool to explore and help you release emotion. One particular tune or lyric can touch your heart to either uplift you or stir the pot of sadness and grief. If you feel numb and don’t know how to jump-start the release of your emotions, music can do it.
4. Let the tears flow
No need to bottle them up or keep a stiff upper lip. Talk it out with a friend or out loud to yourself and vent out your emotions. Feelings flow like water. When we bottle them up, resist them or deny them, it’s like we damming up the water. Like the water in the dam also finds its own outlet so do emotions, especially when we least expect them to. Therefore many dams have trickling water which has found its way to the other side and they are called weeping holes as they help ease the water pressure on the dam walls. Similarly expressing emotions in terms of tears just helps us channels emotions in an appropriate manner and releases the tension built up inside us. This in fact prevents unexpected flooding due to dam walls caving away suddenly or inappropriate demonstration of emotions. Tears are not a sign of weakness or neediness, but as a sign you are honoring your heart and growing stronger.
5. Time heals
Break-ups are painful and people struggle to dodge that pain. Sometimes our loved ones, hating to see us in pain, may urge us to move forward quickly and out of the void. But the void is the place where we will find the wisdom of the relationship breakdown, so we need to take the time to do our own inner work.