Just look at the picture that is part of this post- there is a prayer on in someone’s compound, in front of their home. Many people are there- family, friends, neighbours and so forth. These things happen commonly all around the world- people come together for shared occasions, and help one another, organize a whole lot of activities in their homes. Nobody does anything alone. It is a circle of help and everyone helps everyone else- even a small help like informing everyone in the neighbourhood is help for the family that is organizing a prayer meeting of this nature.
Help Seeking Behaviour
I am trying to illustrate something about help seeking behaviour here- which I intend illustrating with examples from my personal experiences. Help seeking behaviour is considered an important attribute in psychology because it is a form of behaviour which is part of the social nature of a human. Man is not an island so whatever we do, we require other humans around us. Illness is a particularly difficult case because during illness the ability of a person is reduced by a significant amount to do what they would have been able to, had they not been ill. In that case help seeking is even more important.
But often I have noticed people do not seek help- out of shyness, out of a sense of dejection, rejection, hopelessness, helplessness, depression, immaturity or inflated ego. This is the greatest ignorance in my estimation. Or even if they ask for help, they do not want to follow what the other person is saying- they ask for help half-heartedly and even if someone offers suggestions, based on prior experience or knowledge, they are doubtful and suspicious about it. I also find that people who have a mental illness diagnosis are the most reluctant to take or ask for help. I am going to illustrate this with a few examples.
I received the following letter from a (worried) parent-
I came to about u frm …Really hats up for the cause u r helping.Really many are ignorant about the remedies of mental illness.
My daughter, who is B.tech. and serving in an IT co[mpan]y in …In Sept.`13 it started.Her frnds informed us as we are frm …Immediately i rushed and took her in spite of her unwillingness.She was diagnised as suffering frm Shizophernia.Then i took her to Mumbai and now she has been under the treatment of …She is taking
one …and one …She is our only child .She was on leave for 6 months.After that i left my job and since her joining i`m staying with her.She is 26 yrs old.So we are searching for her marriage after consultation with Dr. Dr.is telling to stop above medicines after her marriage.But i`m apprehensive if after stopping medicine will she be able to be ok?If not it may affect her mrrg.
Can u guide stopping medicine after mrrg is acceptable?Is there any herbal treatment which i can start before mrrg discontinuing above med.She has become very slow.She is working out and doing yoga.
Can u help a helpless father .Is there any NGO in …on the similar line of activity ,who can guide us .I also want to consult Dr in … without going to Mumbai cause it`s too costly.But effectiveness can`t be comprosied.
I know u must be very busy. Plz reply to help.
I wrote back the following-
Dear Mr. S
I am really happy that your daughter is very young- so she can be totally well and recovered and likely she does not need any medication. So if the doctor is saying so, believe it- often they give medicine as a precaution and then they see it is not required in the least…but do not want to admit that they made a mistake.
If you like to talk to me, please feel free to call me. The most important thing is to offer her counseling and strength to deal with day-to-day life issues, as a result she will be just fine. And in any case the single most important thing is there in your case, your commitment to your daughter’s welfare. Let me talk to both you and your daughter and if need be, I do not mind counseling her as well. Once i talk to her, i will know the truth very quickly- about what the root of the ‘illness’ is or was.
Sometimes young people, in particular, women suffer due to setbacks in matters of the heart, or an experience of being raped, molested, incest or a boss who is misbehaving but they do not have the ego strength to deal with it. I find that due to mobility and education though a lot of young women are there as part of the labour force they are quite emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually weak and vulnerable. Their milieu does not permit them any scope for mental growth, though they acquire degrees to fit professional roles.
As a result without a mind which is developed and matured commensurate with age, they just move from one stage to another and when any real challenge of life appears at any stage, they are simply not ready to handle it. This happens due to both marriage, as well as mobility into jobs and for jobs, to new places which may make them move away from the protective yolk of family support. This produces distress of various sorts, and they run to ‘professionals’ of various hues and shades. Now what can so-called professionals do? They have been through [seemingly organized and] long courses of understanding human suffering and putting medical labels on them. They identify a little cluster of symptoms and classify it as a mental illness, without telling anyone how they arrive at that classification.
Parents and families are so baffled by the medical terminology, facades and authoritativeness that they believe doctors are messiahs and they know everything. If only doctors knew the way out of mental illness, many millions of people would have recovered and got well- the way they do in Finland, where they emptied out psychiatric wards because of the sort of communications they had with the people and families.
Again the gentleman of the above communication, wrote the following-
Thanks for your quick response to my mail.I`m happy that you have agreed to counsel her as well as me.
Will u plz tell your suitable time(Indian time) for talk. Latest development , which has made the matter more
serious that yesterday my daughter`s manager called her and told that she is under tremendous pressure
from the H.R.Deptt. to terminate her.Her manager has been kind enough to tell HR to give 3 months time
for improvement.She has become very slow.
I had a feeling that her pathology was coming from her work environment somewhere and sure enough the evidence is there already. It may not be that this person calls up because sometimes, in India I find that people feel more comfortable talking face-to-face rather than long distance, without realizing that the best fit for you or the person who can really understand your case, is not always going to be the one next door. the whole reason that I encourage everyone to use modern technology, particularly the phone and internet to bridge distance of time and geography is to find the best matches spiritually and emotionally among professionals who can deal with your story, without affirming what another (psychiatrist) is saying.
This brings to mind the case of another young woman who called me and said that she suffered from schizophrenia for the last 25 years! I asked her what medicines she took for it, and what the rest of the story was. In the first communication itself I told her we could draw a plan for her recovery and rehabilitation. She is an engineer, single woman, lives alone has several co-morbid conditions and whatnot. The only kin is a sister who lives faraway. She asked me if she could get well.
I always believe that people who seek solutions find one,
so I see no reason she would not recover, because she wants to recover.- However, to seek solutions just within yourself is the greatest foolishness. We are social beings, we have to rely on our communications and our potentials for learning that come from our social milieu. Of course one can always run into those fair-minded professionals who do not view you from the lens of your pathology, but want to know what happened in your life, in your past, in your office, in your home, your childhood and whatnot. How people underestimate the power of communication- the only road that really relieves you of all the soul burden you carry. That is why as I put my enterprise on track, I have created a communications based one- Here
is the website getting ready.
And I know that those who land up talking to me have really been the full course [of being treated by doctors and counseled by psychologists in many cases too] before they knock at my doors and they soon know the difference. I never coerce or even ask anyone to [even] pay, for often I understand that people cannot. Let them pay out of their own conscience if they feel they have benefited. The above woman (25 years case story) asked me how much I needed to be paid. I just told her, since she is not earning anything yet, we can always defer this. For me it is more important that she reclaims her life. Money that is mine will always come to me, in its own time. But let people live fully in the present- this is my offering to them.
This makes me want to share a little from a letter from another person who I collaborate with via our dialogues from England. He said, Suffice to say i though today’s session was a success. One of the parts that stuck in my mind was that I may be able to streamline my life and focus my interests on some productive areas. After I got off Skype I removed the huge piles of books that have been building around my flat and shelved them. Its not to say that I won’t look at them, I’m still fascinated by foriegn languages but I think I need to get things in their proper place. Later this evening I went out to the supermarket and instead of feeling stressed and anxious I felt calm and clear. I feel I need to discuss with you how and what I am able to pay you. Its hard to say at this stage (early days) but I think this may be just what I need.
We all get what we want…provided we are looking for it- even the right therapist or collaborator. So why not learn to ask for the right person in the first place?
And then develop the mind to recognize them, for who knows in what form they could materialize? Na jaane kis roop mein narayan mil jaayein. (who knows in what form I may find god/what I am looking for)