What is Sunday neurosis and why should you care?

Do take a look 🙂

Metaphors of The Mind

Victor Frankl, a famous existentialist, philosopher and psychiatrist, suggested that a lot of people in today’s time suffer from Sunday neurosis. The whole week goes by in work and responsibilities, and it is on Sunday that we realize how mundane and empty we feel. To get away from this feeling, we indulge in eating, shopping or some other compensating behaviour and thus, start a new week withholding our emptiness, therefore crashing one day, with either depression or suicide or both.

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On International day of happiness, let’s look at why we are not happy. Under the #battletheblues campaign, we have discovered that way too many of us feel depressed and empty inside.

The only solution to emptiness is to find meaning. What really matters to you? Do you do a job where you are crushing your passion, your values everyday? Are you stuck with a loveless marriage?

As much as these…

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The costliest thing in India that inflation can’t explain: Having an opinion

Outrage is the new Indian hobby. Initially, social media would outrage over issues that required outraging, like rapes and brutal statements by politicians and what not, but now a days, we seem to outrage without thinking. Or worse, we outrage to drown out minority voices. Minority here stands not for muslims, but any person or group of people who want something different than what the mainstream does, something that is not an illegal or immoral thing to ask for.

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When Aamir Khan said his wife suggested moving out of India, he voiced the feelings of not just Muslims, but all sorts of groups who have felt targeted and the Government has done nothing to tell them they will be looked after. These groups include, but are not limited to: women, queer population, Sikhs, SC and ST population, tribals, people in high-distress areas, people affected by man-made and natural disasters, people under the poverty line, people with mental and physical disability, people affected by crimes, people stuck in human trafficking and child labour, children and young adults stuck in observation homes, and so on.

There were some Muslims who came out and said that they have had nothing but love and respect in India, so how could Aamir Khan say what he did. First of all, it’s good that their experience was nice, but because he expressed a different opinion, that does not mean that he is wrong. He has all right to say what he feels, and it is not irresponsible, because he just expressed a sentiment, that many people have been feeling, and not flung mud at anyone blaming them for it.

The outrage he harnessed proved his point that we are inching towards intolerance and bursting at our seems. But it also proved the convenient duality we had: We are happy to garner NRI investments, but loathe when someone talks of leaving the country. We want to champion minority rights, but we don’t care when Muslim women say that they want changes in the Muslim personal law. Perhaps he poked us where it hurts: our denial blind spot.

This divided attention and lack of peace-making efforts from central authorities (but harrowing communal comments from politicians, instead), speak of a psychological divide that was only at the fringes before but now is seeping in everywhere. There are some who are not divided but they simply do not care, and I can’t decide which is worse.

In light of the recent incidents, having an opinion is perhaps the costliest in India. It is much easier if you want to be a mule, absorb consumer products and mindlessly churn our revenue and tax.

“How Indian is counseling anyway?”

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I work for a start-up that’s trying to make counseling available online, therefore addressing the accessibility, affordability and stigma question, all at once. In the background research for this facility, in roping in experts, and in general as a training counselor, this question has often plagued me, “Isn’t therapy or counseling a western concept? How can we expect people to take to it?”

Sometimes, the question originated within me, as I saw the reluctance of people to come for counseling or pay for it, even when they could afford it. Most of the times, it was by concerned (and some mocking) friends and family.

To answer this question, for all of of us, I did some digging and here are a few pointers:

  • We have adopted a lot of seemingly western concepts with great ease, allopathic medicine, the current governing systems and computers are a few good examples. Do you ask about a discount when you buy a laptop, because it’s a western concept?
  • Indians have always been known for stories, and the need to tell about life’s dilemmas in eloquent ways in order to find solutions. The Jataka tales, Pancharatnas, and our epics are good examples of lengthy discussions done in order to understand and deal with the shades of grey in our lives.
  • India is where Buddhism was born, and Buddha was known for his calm demeanor and talking to people in a logical, reflective way, which helped them change for the better. Counselors are not Buddha or Buddhists, but if conversing reflectively can help, then why would you use chemicals with side-effects instead?
  • Counseling or therapy don’t have to be dull or pathological. There are strength-based approaches, group approaches, community psychology approaches (which use local rituals and indigenous patterns for healing) and therapy using art and creative forms.

 

In essence, we could do a lot if we would combine our knack and need for talking, story-telling and metaphors, with an organized system of healing like counseling, and by dropping the elite-western air.

We would have an approach which could address India’s alarming mental health situation without heavily relying on drugs. It would reduce crime rates, increase productivity. A preventive and curative approach, given we think of counseling as important to have reliable professionals and spaces for it, from the public health and government hospital space to the private sector.

The question is, do we want to? Will we?

 

TISSues

It’s been almost two years since I joined TISS as a Masters’ student. The course is about to end. I am not sure if I have really seen the TISS life – since I do not live on campus or even close by. So I have missed out on the hostel/pg stories and the *cough* vibrant night life. But I have been around for my fair share of TISS exposure and I do think I understand its spirit.

When I initially joined, I had put the institute up on a pedestal – because of what I had heard before. However, I have discovered that the place has its own flaws and paradoxes – one of the most glaring ones is how haphazardly masters level research is done by more students than not in a place that prides itself on research and field presence.

Another one was the kind of people I met. I think that just because I met them in TISS, I was expecting a socially conscious and humanitarian person in everyone. That doesn’t happen. Human tendencies are everywhere – in teachers and students. The base emotions of insecurity and jealousy cannot be done away with – even if you are a TISSian.

However, I also know that a lot of what I learnt would not even be accessible to me in a place like Mumbai University. This is not limited to the course content and how it was taught – but the way the two years in this institute have broadened my thinking – to the point that I can no longer have uninformed, one-sided viewpoints or opinions. This was compounded by a training in psychological therapy – which requires further stripping down of your issues and meaning in life – to the point where you are that you know yourself well enough to be secure to enter someone else’s personal psychological world.

I have met a variety of people. I am not going to keep in touch with all of them – but some I am going to treasure. People from diverse walks of life and who amaze you by the amount of good work they have done – as also how humble they are.

However, when I was still a novice, I put these people in some holy light, and would feel really bad if they stopped whatever was required of them professionally to draw out, compartmentalize and have time for themselves. I realize now that it is required – in a field as loaded as ours. You might encounter such grave issues in work that you have to force yourself to stop bothering beyond a point – even if it means drawing up artificial borders. The only difference is, some people still do it better than others and then it hurts less.

I always had a vague dream of ‘giving’ back to the society. Being at TISS has taught me where and how I can concretely do so. It has shown me the gaps where a mental health professional can be useful – community work, policy making, and so on. Even if you follow your ambition and want a comfortable life – it can still be a righteous one.

You learn that giving a fuck about things isn’t something special.It is also nothing which requires a lot of time and effort. But, if everyone did their bit, people who are into slimy stuff would never get away with it as easily as they do. Who can escape a million questions?

I think at the core of it, TISS is a hopeful place. They go all like ‘oh this is a gap in the community? we will create a course to generate professionals and research to understand this better’. And there you are. They are trying to do things their way, and it has its limitations too.

I have probably not lived the proper TISS life, but I think what I’m taking away is the philosophy of it. Being a TISSian is not about the time you spend there, its a way of life.

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Riot at the Strand

Humari Matargashti

The world has infinite possibilities. Once money enters the equation though, the possibilities suddenly become rather finite – no matter how noble your intentions.

In a hall full of people, Shaja and Maya braved the great unwashed masses, for one thing only – the books in the room outnumbered the people in the room. Yes, they were at the infamous Strand Book Sale. What would eventually become a yearly tradition, it was the second time Shaja and Maya had ventured to the Sale together; Maya to browse, and Shaja to buy. Obviously, Shaja was in a greater dilemma than Maya. Maya, whose Bengali family had a culture of reading, had only to worry about the space that the books would occupy take up, and when she would get around to reading them. Shaja’s family, on the other hand, didn’t really see the point of buying books, unless they were…

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The lines we draw..

While I sit here sipping my hari chai (Green tea – snigger snigger) and contemplating the complexity of Govinda’s dance moves, I was thinking back to Walter White’s line from Breaking Bad, when he has this conversation on ‘the lines we draw..’ with Hank.

When we are young, the lines are important for our little minds to not get boggled. But they are meant to be discarded or given up as we grow. Most of the times, the lines are so fucking arbitrary! They are probably the product of our parents’ tired minds as we pestered them with questions about why the balloon flies.

Being human of course, we take the dividing nature of a line so seriously, as if we are going to die with it and take it to our graves. We have put people on this side of the line and that.

A traitor and a soldier are differentiated by the thin thread of who they’re working with.

A legal intoxicant (alcohol) and an illegal one, are decided on the basis of how much money the Government can make – and also the black market profits of a ban.

A person will decide their thinness or fatness based on certain millimetres and kgs.

Hell, even sanity and insanity are a number game. 4 out of 9 criteria? Sane. Ooh, 5 out of 9? Sorry, insane.

The stupidest thing is to apply the lines to people. Friends, enemies.. think, who has the potential to hurt you more? Probably a friend, because you trust them that much. Yet, all the energy you put into hating.. that is for a.. wait for it.. enemy!

So Thick. Like a thick line.

Anyway.

Lines have another quality. The quality to continue. Across a page – across pages. Across things, people, and across centuries.

It’s time we grew up to absorb this quality of lines over the former.

Besides,

Who’s line is it anyway?

Think.