Sunday Monitor

Perspective of life

SARAFNAMA

“He seemed so sensitive, so perceptive, so brilliant – the perfect choice for an eligible girl; only if he hadn’t been a schizophrenic…” Dipti mused.

Dipti stood staring at the cover of the book lying on her desk – ‘Parallel Universes’ — the subject had long fascinated her but there was something in the author’s tone that disturbed her. Was it indifference or was it something else?

As Dipti thought more of Ramesh, the more she felt uneasy. What was it that was preventing her from reaching out to him, to express her liking for him? Was she afraid? Apprehensive? Did she feel that she lacked the emotional strength that would be required for a lifelong commitment to Ramesh? Would she be breaching her psychological contract with him? The answers were clearly not going to be easy.

“A parallel universe is a space — a state of mind akin to a possible psychic retreat — when the schizophrenic cuts off from secured anchors in the ‘real world’, he looks for anchors elsewhere — though those anchors may not be recognized as such by society or the ‘sane world’….” Dipti felt that an important point was emerging from the book — the psychic space of the individual was one which would define for him his ‘individual reality’, ‘his place’ in the enmeshed interlocked interrelationships between subject and object.

Next morning Dipti met Ramesh in the yoga hall. She was also regularly attending the classes. Though she was retained by the mental hospital as a visiting psychologist, she felt that participating in certain events with her patients would help in building a stronger rapport with them. This in turn would lead to greater experience sharing and would be therapeutic for them. Today she would be meeting Ramesh again for a session and she wanted to maximise the experience for both of them.

“Hello Ramesh, How are you feeling today?” Dipti asked in a cheerful voice. “Great! It’s always a pleasure to meet you,” Ramesh said, equally cheerful.

“Excellent! Today we will work together on what is called the Inkblot Game. I will show you some pictures of inkblots and you have to tell me what they represent to you. So, let’s begin!”

Ramesh looked excited. He told Dipti that she was an intelligent, caring and sensitive individual who gave him respect in spite of his situation and that he looked forward to the sessions that he had with her. He said that he felt that at a certain level she understood him.

“This picture reminds me of 2 people with a common destiny. The second one represents an empty canvas waiting to be coloured with a story…” Dipti was once again reminded of his perceptiveness and it made her wonder, “How could he be here?”

Back in her room, Dipti got back to the book. “Why is it so wrong to be different, to have a different set of anchors, to have a unique sense of reality not shared by the environment – sure, it may lead to maladjustment in that situation but could there be a place, a retreat for such people where they are allowed to have their own space? A place where the different anchors are same for the people who share that space — a parallel world, a new vocabulary? Who are we to judge people, who are we to decide who is ‘mad’? Should we not be more sensitive as human beings and be more allowing and accepting…?”

Dipti realised that her assessment of the author’s tone had been premature. She could feel now that the author was actually a very sensitive and evolved individual. She could not help feeling admiration for him.

“Sir, I have something important to discuss with you,” said Dipti to Dr Dhawan, the resident psychiatrist. “It is concerning Ramesh, the patient in room 202, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Could you show me the records of his clinical picture vis-à-vis his symptoms.”

“Sure, we have noted that he is confused, is delusional, has major adjusting problems with his environment, has incoherent and disintegrated thoughts stemming from illogical beliefs, disturbed goal directed activity and emotional blunting. There is also a retreat to an inner world,” said Dr Dhawan looking quizzically at Dipti.

Back in her chamber, Dipti was deep in thought. The inkblot test as well as other tests had confirmed that Ramesh thought very differently from the other patients with similar symptoms.

“Maybe, there should be a separate space of a more humane nature than that offered by an asylum or by a half-way home where the ‘patient’ is not cut off from society and yet is in a position to contribute to it. Maybe, there should be a different world within the same world where the ‘sane’ people take active responsibility in integrating people like Ramesh with his obvious endearing qualities into their fold.” Dipti was thinking furiously.

Dipti realised that she had a psychological contract with Ramesh because of her role and that she would have to be careful about that. How could she then address her feelings? She was sure by now that she liked Ramesh enough to make a commitment and she felt confident that she could take on this responsibility. She did not sleep that night. With the outbreak of dawn, the answers came as easily as they had eluded her earlier… She knew what she had to do.

“Good morning, Dr Dhawan.” I have some news for you, grinned Dipti, as she handed him her resignation letter.

15 minutes later, Dipti was walking excitedly towards room 202. “I have to try,” she thought.

(Contributed by Amit Saraf, a Shillong-based blogger & creative writer)

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