Thursday, August 27, 2009

Schizophrenia and Indian Society

Since I started this blog, I wanted to take up this subject but was afraid to touch because I wanted write it with sensitivity. I also wanted to bring something useful to the discussion without being offensive to anyone which is hard when what you really want is to criticize.

Schizophrenia or any other mental illness is a taboo to many societies and so much so to Indian society. But in our case we have unique phenomenon because of complex social and religious structure of the society.

When one of my relative was going through the initial phase of schizophrenia, his family tried everything from religious offerings, to blame it on some supernatural power or bad luck. Only thing they were avoiding was to go to the doctor and get some real help. Because of taboo associated with mental illness, they were not ready to seek medical help. This continued for years and situation got worse with passing time. Finally when there were no other options, family took the boy to a mental hospital and got the treatment which this boy really needed. As soon as the treatment started, the boy started behaving normally, and functioning well. There was so much suffering in between and I can see the social reasons in denying the treatment to the patient. Now years after, medicine still continues (an unfortunate situation with schizophrenic patients), but he has a family with understanding wife and kids. He works and earns a living for his family. The situation in his case is not ideal, but no better or worse than any other family which has some kind of illness.

This is a good website with explanation of common symptoms and outcome of schizophrenia. Mental illness is like any other genetic illness which sure affects some percentage of population in every race depending on their genetic specificity. There is nothing good about having a mental illness, but so is the same with any other health related problem. What we need is more awareness in the society with early medical help for the patient suffering from the problem.

In India, in every city, there are number of people who claim to have some spiritual or special power because they claim to see/hear/dream some god or goddess. People worship these so called gurus/devis, and seek solutions of their own problems. I am not against the psychological help these so called gurus provide to people without damaging their self esteem, who otherwise can not afford a professional help, but the cost and sufferings of not-treated patient with mental illness because of these gurus is enormous and can not be underestimated. I was wondering if these so called special gurus/devis themselves are the cases of very good acting, some real belief to gain followers and/or position within the society or some kind of mental illness by itself.I don't know the answer, but I am curious!!!

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