Thursday, September 29, 2011
My Paper for the UGS Conference on Mental Health
Our behavior is usually controlled by our emotional nature and our attitudes. In order to correct dysfunctional behavior it becomes necessary for us to be in control of our emotional nature and to change some of our attitudes. I have been fortunate to develop a brief psychodynamic method – from the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous – which not only helps addicts to recover, but is also an effective way to overcome anger and resentments, and for changing negative attitudes.
Oxford Dictionary defines ‘attitude’ as ‘a settled way of thinking or feeling.’ Our thinking and feeling depends on the ideas and beliefs that are already stored in our memory. When we learn the wrong things, the ideas in memory become inappropriate and our attitudes become negative. In order to change our attitudes it then becomes necessary for us to change the inappropriate ideas that have been stored in our memory.
Whenever our instinctive drives, or the needs, for safety, relationship and love, and for self-esteem or ambition – the ‘Social Needs’ of the Maslow Model – get hurt or threatened, we get upset, angry or afraid, and we may also hurt others because of it. In this psychodynamic approach, we inventory our past episodes of anger to see which of the drives had been affected. Then, by analyzing the inventory it becomes possible for us to understand which of our ideas and beliefs had been creating problems for us, which we can then correct. This is how this method helps us in changing our negative attitudes and in overcoming anger and resentments. It will also help us in forgiving others when necessary, as ‘forgive’ means to ‘stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence or mistake.’
Freud, in his Three Essays on Sexuality (1905), had said "The source of a drive is a process of excitation occuring in an organ and the immediate aim of the drive lies in the removal of this organic stimulation." And, in The Ego and the Id (1923), he states unequivocally that the ego “is first and foremost a bodily ego ... ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the surface of the body."
In this therapy, I have included the body psychotherapy technique of dispassionately observing the bodily sensation. In the Bhagavad Gita (2.14 and 2.15 ), this technique is the first thing that Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to follow, as it helps a person to remain calm and balanced in times of both pain and pleasure. This technique, which the Buddhists call Vipassana, is so simple when learnt from the book or CD Sadhana by Anthony de Mello S.J. that it can be easily taught to children in all the schools. At present it is only being taught to the students of all the BMC schools. I hope all people, especially children, get a chance to benefit from this wonderful technique of India.
The paper also covers the topic of nutrients, which is often neglected. 75% of our body is made up from the 20 amino acids. Amino acid deficiencies can lead to depression, anxiety, addictions and other health problems. Educating people about the individual amino acid deficiency symptoms, their nutritional supplements and their diagnostic blood tests can go a long way in safeguarding mental health and in the prevision of addiction, suicide and behavioral problems.