The injustice done by Parva

parva poster

Yesterday, I went to watch the Nepali movie  ‘Parva’ starred by Namrata Shrestha and Koshish Chhetri. Initially I thought it was a horror movie and anticipated to have some goose bumps and heartbeats racing over the scenes. And frankly there were some episodes of that anticipation of the horror but my expectation of it being a horror movie completely took a downturn.  The movie touched my mind not because it has excellent storyline or because of the acting of the actors. It touched my mind because the issue it happened to showcase is the matter that is close to my heart or that I am more familiar with.  I am not here to review the movie.  I am writing this piece because I am troubled thinking the message that audience might be getting after watching the movie.

For those who haven’t watched the movie, it might be a spoiler alert. But I have to write this in the context of the movie and the roles of the actors to make my point.  So if you are planning to watch the movie, you might want to read this after watching the movie.

So coming back to the movie, the movie has circled around the issue of parent child relationship and its causal relationship to the mental health of a child. Up to this point I have not much to say about. But after this, the movie progresses into the sensational case building up. And this is where I have my serious concerns raised.

Without adding much suspense to the so called suspense thriller story, the movie revolves around the character of a severe depressive patient with psychopathic traits. In a nutshell the character likes to lure the girls who remind him of his mother and hacks them to death. The psychiatrist in the movie diagnoses the character to be suffering from childhood depression that progresses into full blown severe depression but is allusive of the diagnosis of psychopathy ( he gives the hint that the character might develop antisocial traits).

parva poster

The movie orients the audience about depression and the importance of parent child relationship in achieving mental wellbeing of children. But the tendency of the movie to associate depression with violence is the issue that I would like to object. I don’t know how much of study has been done to include such sensitive issue in the movie but from my movie experience ‘depression’ is sensationalised for pure entertainment gain in the movie.

Mental health issue itself is hugely stigmatized topic in Nepal. And people have this myth that people with mental illness are potentially violent and aggressive. And this movie has gone beyond to depict the gory violence of a ‘severe depressive patient’ which has reinforced the aforementioned myth about people with mental illness. The question here is what picture will the innocent audience will have of depressive patient after watching the movie?

It is already established fact that mental illness is neither a necessary cause nor a sufficient cause for violence. In Nepal we do not have official data to ascertain the exact percentage of people with mental illness involving in criminal activities. The comprehensive study done in the USA which was published in 1998 and famously known as MacArthur Community Violence Risk Study is a landmark study which studied the prevalence of violence among the discharged mental health patients from the hospitals.  The study found that  mentally ill people in general are no more violent than the normal population. And the subsequent studies have also supported this claim. There is a certain subcases in psychopathologies like substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder and in some cases of psychoses like in schizophrenia where violence can be observed in behaviours of the people. But in such cases also, the instances are very rare to establish violence as the effects of such conditions. It is exceptions rather than rule.   In fact there is a compelling evidence that most people suffering from mental illnesses are themselves the victim of violence. And tragically many people deprived of adequate treatment and support end of committing suicides, a self perpetuated violence.

Parva has insensitively made ‘mental health’ as bait to violence to make the movie a thriller genre. The takeaway from the movie is damaging to the psyche of audience who might correlate mental health problems with violence. The movie has only served to make the issue of mental health more stigmatized in the perception of the educated mass as this movie has been intended for the urban movie goers. This movie has done great injustice to the throngs of people who are suffering from mental health problems such as depression. It has needlessly and callously glamorised the ‘depression’ in such a way that there is a danger that people might tread the condition with caution and repulsion than empathy and emotional support which they actually need.

 

UN Psychology Day Celebrated in Nepal

United Nations Psychology Day was celebrated for the first time in Nepal. It was a concentrated effort of the students and the professionals of Psychology to promote psychology in Nepal. The program saw a participation of about 60 people mainly from the Psychology field. The program started at 4:30 PM at Maitighar Mandala and ended with the rally and assembly at Shanti Batika, Ratnapark.

This is the 10 th edition of Psychology Day observed by the UN with this year’s theme: ‘Promoting Well-being in the 21st Century: Psychological Contributions for Social, Economic, and Environmental Challenges’, although, it’s the first time Nepal observed the day. The program concluded with the gathering at Shanti Batika where several speakers talked about Psychology in Nepal and its importance as a whole and the need to get united for the betterment of the field.

group picture of the participants of the event
group picture of the participants of the event (Photo credit: Mitesh Shrestha)

The key speakers included the psychologists Dr. Narendra Thaguna, Mr. Padam Raj Joshi, Mr. Basu Acharya and Mr. Gopal Dhakal.  Dr. Narendra Thaguna said that the programs such as this should happen regularly in Nepal and he showed his personal commitment to take the initiative to improvise the program the next time. Mr Padam Raj Joshi, lecturer of Psychology, said that the future of Psychology in Nepal was very bright and emphasised on the need to train our body through our mind. Mr. Basu Acharya told the psychologists first to increase one’s competitiveness to make psychology practically applicable in everybody’s lives. And lastly Mr. Gopal Dhakal emphasised the importance of policy and the national campaign to increase the awareness on psychosocial issues.

The program was confluence of the young and old generation of psychologist as the program was heavily participated by the students of Masters from Central Department of Psychology, Trichandra College and Padma Kanya Campus. Likewise there were some students of bachelors level and also the professionals working in several organizations. Other notable personalities in the program were counsellor and lecturer Tara Adhikari and Clinical Psychologist Sujita Baniya .

Marching together for Psychology
Marching together for Psychology

From the younger generation, the newly elected CAPS (Central Association of Psychology Students) president, Ms Sandhya Khatiwada spoke about the need to continuously engage in the psychological issues by the younger generation. Mr Amardeep Guragain  voiced his concern to include the spiritualism and the domain of organizational psychology in the mainstream of Psychology in Nepal. Ms Kripa Sigdel and Mr Sujan Shrestha collectively emphasised the need for the young psychologists to get united in one front to put moral pressure on the older generation to form one authentic umbrella organization of Psychology in Nepal. The program was jointly hosted by Ms Kripa Sigdel, Mr. Suman Sharma Poudel and Mr. Piyush Gautam.

The biggest takeaway of the program was the realization by the young psychologists to get united in one front leaving their personal egos aside. This program  has been successful to initiate a culture of collaboration among the stakeholders of psychology as this program was not organized in the banner of one organization or institution but in the love of Psychology.

Some of the pictures from the program ( photos credit: Mitesh Shrestha) :

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Why Do We Resist Change?

status quo

Say our politics, no matter how many alternative forces are there, we end up voting for the same old party who end up with same old-fashioned tactics of development; Say our mindset, no matter how hard we are optimist about change, we end up following same old traditional beliefs; And say our perspective, have you thought why it doesn’t want to shift no matter how much we are equipped with exposure of information and education??

It’s a tricky thing. After all, change is amazingly hard thing to do.

status quo

I had been trying to write this article for more than a month or so. I had exam in between and little weary to sit for a while and write. I didn’t want to change from my not-so still heavily felt exam pressure and I rather quitted the idea of writing on this.
WHY?

Because for me, shifting my exam schedule to write-up time was difficult.

It’s just an instance!!

Many of the times no matter how much we wish, we simply cannot change. Otherwise, why an educated female would carry her sanitary pad inside wrapped paper no matter how much she likes being a girl? Why a husband doesn’t want to do household work no matter how much he would respect his working wife? WHY?

We have a wonderful term in Psychology ‘Biasness’ which we like to refer as mental shortcuts which happens and we even don’t realize it happened. That’s where our resistance to change pop up!

Let me introduce few of them here. You never know next time when you are under the influence of cognitive bias, you can understand why it just happened and your self-awareness might just be helpful to keep it in balance!

perspective

1.Ever thought why we do have ‘Gang of friends’ whom we call ours and just dislike other ‘without a definite reasons’?

In-Group Bias happens when we shape ourselves to conform to the group which we most strongly identity. This not only creates solidarity in the group but also increases group’s acceptance of us as members in good standing. This is why we overestimate the power of our group and discount others who don’t identify with us.
Next time if you are disliking another class mate of yours without a reason, just try to think why he is discounted. Who knows you are under cognitive influence of your larger group who dislikes him and you are just conforming that with your in-group bias!

2. Have you ever wanted to understand why we keep on snoozing the alarm clock no matter how much we planned to wake up and exercise the last night?

Current-Moment Bias is the term social psychologist use to justify this habit of ours. Research says, Most of us want to take pleasure from the current moment, while leaving pain for later.

3.Why do we often see people support to their own political parties or ideologies even though there is clear evidence of their wrong doings?

confirmation bias

Social Psychologist names this tendency as ‘Confirmation Bias’. This involves favoring information that confirms previously existing beliefs or biases. We seek out to the information that confirms or validate our logic discard the information what doesn’t confirm. Confirmation biases impact how we gather information, but they also influence how we interpret and recall information.  This makes us choosy to those information that support our beliefs and discard those that are against our beliefs.

4. In the recent cricket match between Kenya and Nepal, had you felt that Nepal would win a big time and exclaimed ‘ maile bhaneko thiye ni nepalle jitchha!!’’ after Nepal won the match or for the matter in any kind of events or sports?

If so, in psychology it is call ‘I-know-it-all-Phonenomenon’, i.e Hindsight Bias. We tend to overestimate what we know without having a base to it.

5. Do you think your friend got the highest mark in her finals because examiner was favoring her because of her handwriting but you got low mark because examiner didn’t know how to check the answer paper correctly?                                                                                                                                              

Also, How much you attribute the reason to be situational when your child misbehave and how much you attribute to the parenting style when  someone else child misbehave?

If you are doing so, you are falling in the hand of ‘Attribution Biasness’. We tend to attribute or give reason to our problems as because of external reason and someone else as their own faults.

6. How often you think your friends think like you with the number of likes in your status? Do you think they are (all of them are) consenting on your way of belief?

If so. Give a second thought. We have a tendency to overestimate the degree to which other people agree with our beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors. This creates a false consensus, which can influence our decisions and behaviors. Social Psychologist calls it False Consensus Effect. And it might be deteriorating  for your self-esteem if you keep on overestimating and when actual time comes to act, when not many people support your belief.

7. Does your impression of a candidate being a good public speaker lead you to feel that she is also smart, kind, and hard-working? Does thinking that a particular actor is good-looking also lead you to think that he is a compelling actor?

If you are doing so, It is another kind of cognitive bias which psychologist say ‘Halo-Effect’. Next time, when you are choosing whom to vote or which seminar to attend or which teacher to take supervisor, make sure to realize either you are evaluating with one trait or overall impression?

 

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8. Despite the health risks imposed by inactivity and health benefits by doing exercise why many people still prefer to engage in unhealthy behaviors like not exercising or eating fatty foods?

We have tendency to refer to immediate past experience to choose the immediate future plans. That is referred to ‘Availability Heuristic’ which is one of the cognitive biases.

Our brain is, most of the times, to lazy to  give much mental effort to help us out in making plans so it refers to latest immediate happenings as Heuristic (mental shortcuts) to help us in our decision making, which sometimes be detrimental in our decision making. Availability heuristics is greatly increased by the availability of the immediate information we can have. For the above example, it might be the role of media that induces people to engage in availability heuristics. For example its known fact that people die many times more by cancer and diabetes than by accidents and murder. But newspaper and media tends to give more focus to accidents and murder than health issues which makes the issue of health less important than the dangers of murder and accidents.

9. How many of you really believed that 2012 would be the end of the world?

You repeat a lie hundreds or thousands of times it becomes the truth. That phenomenon is called the illusion of truth. This is the tactics very often employed by the politicians. And sometimes we might be doing the same thing unknowingly. It creates the illusion of truth which can aid to status quo .

Don’t you think we are making many racial/ethnic statements just due to our Illusion of truth. May be!

In a nutshell, our cognition is a vast subject to study and think of. These are very few biasness which we call, from psychological lenses, cognitive biasness which we are using in our daily life (even without noticing that we are doing it). This can be detrimental for our fully functioning capability of intellect, decision making and rational thinking.

Make sure you are aware of these (and many more if you wish to learn about it. Do it from our Google-Guru or Psychology Books) in your day to day life. It can save many things- your effort, your relation and your rationality!

 

 

 

In Tribute To YamaBuddha

Suicide

“म फुट्छु तर झुक्दिन| दिन रात लड्छु सुत्दिन |”

The rough translation of these phrases tells about the wishes of a determined person who asserts that he would rather love to be broken than to give up. He goes on telling that he would fight the battle whole day and night but will never surrender.

These extracts are the part of a famous rap song that was brought to the Nephop fans by the popular contemporary rapper “YamaBuddha” few years ago. This and many of his epic rap compositions will forever make the scene of Nepalese music lively but the rapper himself is no more living with us. It has truly been disheartening news that someone as optimistic as YB can commit suicide (no doubt the contradictory speculations on his mysterious death still persist).

Let us take a dip into the emotional turmoil that this news had put YB’s fans like me into. Let us also unfasten few shackles that our society has attached to the suicides; for which few nuances of this problem have to be dealt with.

For me, suicides bring a long history of painful memories and partially solved emotional riddles. This event has once again exposed my vulnerability in processing the news related to suicides of people with whom I feel connected to. It’s a sad story to share but in these past 5 years, 5 cases of suicides have shaken my mental well-being quite brutally. I have witnessed 3 suicides in my college hostel, another one of my student last year and this recent one which have given me the most recent shock.

This time, I have realized that the new cases of suicides themselves are not the big challenges for me. The problem that I have recognized is the way I have handled my past mental upsets. When I went through cases of recurring suicides during my college, I forced myself to accept that nothing is so queer about students’ suicides as such suicides are quite common in India. Perhaps, the patriarchal mindset that commands every man to develop masculine attributes was also equally responsible for my artificial stone-heartedness during those days.

Yama budhha
source: ekantipur.com

Moreover, when someone popular as YamaBuddha who apparently didn’t have any reason to end his life, the million dollar question arises: why would anyone want to end his/her life in such a cheap way? What could be that one big factor that pushes everyone irrespective of their fame and wealth to the dark tunnel of death? I went through few of the stats about suicides both in the context of Nepal and in the world and the data was alarming.

What I have found has put me in more dismay as Nepal stands at the 17th place for most male suicides (30.1 per 100,000) and at the 3rd place for most female suicides (20.0 per 100,000). According to another estimate of WHO, almost a million people in the world end their life each year which accounts to more than the gross loss of lives lost in the global conflicts. This bleak situation both inside Nepal and in the global arena is mostly attributed to depression which is believed to be one of the most feared killers of humans after couple of other chronic diseases. WHO also reports that 350 million people globally suffer from depression, and estimates that, by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of global burden of diseases.

In this extended article, I therefore attempt to restate few of those old facts about suicide and depression. Below are few of the symptoms of depression which can trigger suicides or at least suicidal thoughts at some point in any individual.

  • Feeling sad for two or more weeks
  • Feeling completely drained and like you have no energy left
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling negative or pessimistic
  • Losing interest in activities that you previously enjoyed
  • Crying frequently
  • Withdrawing or avoiding social life
  • Neglecting personal appearance
  • Feeling angry
  • Feeling guilty
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Unable to make decisions

If these symptoms (not necessarily all of them) prevail in a person for more than 2 weeks then it’s possible that s/he is going through some depressive episodes. We might be going through these circumstances ourselves or may come across with some individuals who show these symptoms. The first and best remedy that one can offer is the emotional support. Avoiding lonely places and keeping oneself busy in one or other task will also help to an extent. But the ultimate support could be sought from the mental health professionals and one should not hesitate to reach out to these support centers. Gone are those days when society associated depression with the stigmas and mental illness as incurable result of some sins. If diagnosed and intervened in time, depression is just like other minor physical ailments and everyone can win the battle against it.

In a nutshell, if we keep ourselves emotionally vigilant to take on every challenges, then we can lead the life as described in an extract from the next renown song of YamaBuddha. With this phrase, he means “to persist on and not to give up is always greater than to win”

 “जित्नुभन्दा ठुलो हिम्मत नहार्नु हो | त्यसैले लड्दै छु , संघर्ष गर्दै छु |”

#RestInPeaceYamaBuddha

My Guilty Pleasure

 

download-1Last week my brother sent me a packet of ‘ Hershey’s Kisses’ and I finished 100 choco-pieces in just two days all alone. No matter how I want NOT to crunch it one after another, I was indulged in the packet completely. My mind wanted me to stop crunching while my taste bud wanted to have them all at the time. I was feeling satiated with my choco-love at the same time feeling strong distaste toward my craving. How can that happen?

Was it my guilty pleasure? May be…Yes!

And I am pretty sure many of us have our own set of guilty pleasures. And we love them, don’t we?

My love for chocolates and brownies; My best friend love for scrolling twitter all the time; My another friend attachment with couch and TV, my another colleague love of  shopping are few of the pleasures that we feel guilty about after our long indulgence.

BUT STILL Why we do what we don’t like to do? Have you ever thought about it?

Psychology gives a lot of attributions for this. It says habits like this develop due to Low Self-Esteem or due to lack of internal motivation, due to lack of your will or due to your faulty learning.

So damaged is already done! We already have our pleasure which we feel guilty at the end.

So, let’s work on together towards this for now.

Firstly, GUILTY PLEASURE IS GUILTY. Let’s ADMIT IT!

I love the word ‘Guilty Pleasure’ but I doubt it’s meaning sometimes. How can something be ‘Guilty’ and ‘Pleasurable’ at the same time. If it’s pleasure, don’t hide it. If it’s comforting you, if it calms you, set a time for the pleasures. Schedule and Indulge in it. But if it is ‘Guilt’, it’s going to give you guilt no matter what. Accept it.
For example, you find twitter a ‘Guilty Pleasure’. You spend 5 hours a day in twitter. Every time you use it-get pleasure and later feel guilt about it, where will it take? Nowhere! First realize what is more important to you, getting pleasure from twitter or you being guilty having wasting time in social media?
Don’t lie to yourself. And Separate GUILT and PLEASURE. It should work.

Secondly, dilute your guilty pleasure with other forms.

How can you do that?

If you indulge in brownie like I do. Make Brownie your ‘Reward’. Every time you eat healthy for a month or get your work accomplished, give yourself a point as a ‘Brownie’. Here your pleasure won’t be guilt; it’s a diluted and became reward now.

 Third, Have a friend to Monitor.

Why Guilty Pleasures are guilty? Because we feel guilty after the pleasure, exactly like I did after my 100 pieces of choco-crunching; I didn’t tell my mom about it. I felt guilt for bingeing unhealthy. Rather If I had my mom to monitor my unhealthy binge, I would have those chocolates eaten for a week not in two days.
Likewise, share with your friend the trouble you are having and let them help you make schedule or monitor your pleasures which you feel guilty about.

Lastly, Consciously Jot down all your ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and Watch out!

Make sure you have your lists of thing that you feel like doing but feel bad about after doing them. Make sure you understand it’s the guilt because they are harmful or negative or deteriorating for you; not because somebody say so.
If you think you feel good and healthy in your skin, you don’t need to validate the society which thinks skinner are beautiful by giving up your pleasure of indulging in healthy food. But if you think too much of shopping is not about validation but about your internal will, watch out. Make shopping schedule, try to buy it for purpose.

If something is being addictive. Try to seek help from your friend or may be professional. But if your pleasures are manageable, do it by yourself. Just make sure to list out them all and rank them in order of Goodness and Necessity.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about if it gives you pleasure. It’s either PLEASURE or GUILT. If it’s pleasure, you don’t need to validate the society or do not need to try to fit in if you don’t feel like.

But, if that is ‘GUILT’, make sure you understand the consequences and try to work on this rather than being guilty about it and doing nothing.

Now, In a Nutsell, my choco-love is my pleasure which I enjoy and which I am not giving up on. But me gulping ‘100 Pieces of chocolates’ just in two days is the GUILT. It’s not healthy and I will make sure to dilute my guilt in other forms now onwards.
So This 2017, why don’t you try to work on your Guilty-Pleasure?? I mean Guilt and Pleasure! 😀

Book Review of Human Traces

Sebastian Faulks has treaded the path normally the writers do not tread upon. In his novel, human traces, he has humanised the worst ever mental condition that men can get in a very illuminating perspective. For the average reader, it can be a very interesting book to garner knowledge on the subject of mental illness and the history behind it. To the students of psychology and psychiatry, this book widens the horizon of  their knowledge.

This book tales the relationship of the two protagonists, Jacques Rabiere and Thomas Midwinter who are entwined by their same fervour of passion to know how the human mind actually works. As you go on reading their relationship takes an interesting twists and turns. Their line of work represents each distinct school of thought in the treatment approach of mental illness.

Sebastian Faulks has brought the raw human emotions and thinking in his work because of which there is never a dull moment in the story.  It seems the writer is so much knowledgeable on the subject, sometimes there is vague distinctive line whether it’s a novel or some sort of writer’s own philosophy. The writer has taken the vantage points from evolutionary perspective and through one of the protagonist view, the writer opines that the psychotic illness (like schizophrenia) should be viewed in the continuum of human evolution. It is due to the evolved faculty of human mind that we get such illness unlike seen in other animals.  The writer has most passionately emphasised this idea in the book.  Dr. Midwinter, one of the chief protagonist theorizes that since the evolution of homo sapien’s mind , the prevalence of schizophrenia is roughly the same  till date . Moreover, the prevalence rate seems to be equally distributed over all the regions.  And not to forget this condition has strong hereditary and genetic predispositions. Going by Darwin’s natural selection theory , if  “the people with this condition” was the abhorrence in the human evolution the genesis of psychosis would have been eliminated through natural selection. But in contrary it’s not. Therefore it must be advantageous for the development of the human. As per the protagonist, the ‘genes’ that make people schizophrenic in a different combination produce the best of the minds which ultimately advances human knowledge and intelligence. Therefore he thinks we have to thank the people with this mental illness as they have shared the collective burden of all the human race for its advancement and evolution. In a nutshell the capacity to be mad that is inherent in humans make us humans in the first place. So tellingly the protagonist points out to the facts that the hearing voices, seeing figures, catatonic movements are found immensely in the religious scripture that you begin to doubt that ‘godly figures’ as we know might have this condition. Or else how did they see, hear things that the general people didn’t see at that time or the belief that they were the ‘sons’, ‘messengers’ of the god  is the typical feature of the people with schizophrenia having such delusions.

The other perspective it entails is the ‘psycho-dynamic’ approach which suggest all the neuroses have unconscious roots in which all the experiences (both personal and evolutionary) remain.  If the doctors untap that unconscious root , then the neuroses will be cured. This perspective is carried out by another protagonist Dr. Rabiere  in the story who advocates psychotherapy and hypnotism as the form of treatment.

As evidently, these two perspectives collide and has its effect in their personal relationships yet both the protagonists have the same ideal of understanding how the mind functions.  Their differing views unfold singular experiences in their own lives which makes the story more readable.

While there is a danger that the book might sound monotonous for the readers as it encircles around human mind with loads of philosophical anecdotes but once you take your mind on those philosophical questions and curiosities it can be thrillingly stimulating as well.  The other criticism we can make of this book is although it has brought two perspective in their colluding path, somehow the readers can feel the writer favouring one perspective against the other.  The writer has faltered to remain unbiased for both of the characters.

One of the successes of this book is that it has helped to understand the pathology of mind more humanely and made realization that we all possess the quality of being mad which in another form brings out the excellence of the mind.  It epitomises how humane treatment with the people with serious mental conditions can transform their lives.  The book highlights the tendency to pathologize every behaviour of mentally ill people is absolutely wrong.

The book can be an arduous read if you don’t have patience and empathy to understand other’s view point. I very much recommend this book for the students of psychology and psychiatry cause it adds the extra dimension to their knowledge. And it can be very much illuminating, exciting and informed read for the general people as well .