Inception – 1

A movie released sometime in July 2010. Leonardo Di Caprio’s Inception.

The movie fascinated me to no end. Psychology was a subject I was determined to major in, till my Dad pulled me out of Arts & pushed me into Commerce with the conviction he was doing me a favor.

Inception talked about the subconscious. It worked on a theme that it is possible to implant a thought in the depths of the subconscious mind of an individual – where he/she is seemingly in a state of unawareness – and by the time the thought floats upward into his/her conscious mind – they own the thought & the actions that follow – believing the same to be a creation of their own conscious awareness – and at some point the real & surreal merge into 1.

That was the movie’s theme & it was executed with graphic cinematography. Could it be possible in real life, I wondered. How does one implant a thought in the subconscious mind of the other & make them believe it is their own? Further still, how does one make them act upon it & yet make them believe they are in control?

Impossible. It’s only a movie, I thought in 2010. But still, mildly possible? Slightly probable?

Thus started a series of psychological experiments. In 2013, I can say with conclusive authority – Yes. Inception is both prabable & possible.

My experiment have been documented in grueling detail. Yet I’m not sure it’s time yet to share them. They need to be more logically explained to make any sense.

Maybe some time soon.

But in a strange way, I’m sure that it will be a contributing pebble to the field of Psychology & Allied sciences.

The objective of psychology needs to focus on Healing rather than Counseling.

Healing goes to the depth of the problem by penetrating through layers of consciousness till we hit the absolute subconscious & then initiates an inner perspective that allows you to understand the “why” behind your life events or circumstances. Once you are convinced “why” things are happening, you will be happy that they are happening. The understanding of your life will be from your “inside”. The solutions will be your own.

Counseling targets merely the 1st layer of your conscious mind, whereby another person explains to you “how” you should behave under your given set of circumstances. You may or may not be convinced about the “why” but since the advice may be coming from a source you look up to, the conclusion is that if you follow it, you stay happy.

This was my stand at a recent group discussion & interview conducted at an institute for mental health in Thane. It was an interview for recruitment. Needless to say I did not make the cut. We need “counselers” not “healers” they said. It’s not our job whether they heal from inside, our job is merely to push them through life.

Fair enough from a practical perspective. But not good enough if you want to “practice” psychology & not just use it as an enticing tag.

My final stand – counseling is the 1st step. But it has to go deeper & deeper till it reaches the root. That’s where healing will begin. And that’s where Inception comes in. You go the root. You understand the root with your scientific insights & your inner perspectives.

Now you have to bring this information to the light of the subject. If you “counsel” him/her you simply become an external source that “tells” him/her what to / what not to do. The human mind can accept external advice only up to a point after which mental walls are crated. That’s what Carl Jung outlined.

Only the person himself / herself can break these walls. So you have to create situations whereby they can see what you can see. You have to create situations whereby they can self-analyze what you have already analyzed. Inception.

Once “they” are in control, healing begins.

Maybe later on this one too.


Psychology Of Infertility

The Psychology of Infertility

Having battled with infertility for close to 14 years, of which 4 years were a passive battle, and 10 years an active battle where I had more or less declared war on the condition. Even after a spirited fight, I lost, then laid down my arms, waved a white flag, declared defeat and bought peace with the very same condition that haunted me for about a decade and a half.

While I was in the condition and when I was out of it, all through, I spent a lot of time churning the psychological aspects that impact fertility, the psychology of the partners while they are dealing with it, and the psychology that happens when you have dealt with it and come out from under the proverbial cloud, so to say.

Over the years, I have had numerous occasions to meet and interact with women who dealt with similar conditions, and somewhere I can say I found a common strand.

Infertility can be completely physical, these are rare and sad cases, but most often it is not. It is a lot of physical combined with a lot psychological. The psychology preceding infertility often impacts it and aggravates it.

Being a woman, this write is penned in a woman’s perspective; it is a woman’s understanding of herself and of women around her in similar circumstances.

Women often take the brunt of an infertility condition. That’s a myth. Reality is that men are as affected and as shaken by an infertility condition as a woman. Women are vocal and expressive. They share their thoughts and feelings, they communicate, they seek support, they are visible sufferers of a situation. So naturally, they often appear to be carrying the cross solely on their shoulders. But flip the coin and look closer, and you will spot the male half suffering as intensely but with the silence that comes with male ego.

If infertility hurts women on a physical level by depriving them the experience of carrying and birthing another life form from their body, infertility destroys men on a psychological level by hammering the message that they have been incapable of proving “being-a-man” to the world. Children, to men, even if only initially till the emotions take over, are an assertion of their manliness; when they come into this world, a man feels reassured of his gender. If one can imagine the stress of a man being hit in his most sensitive region, and not being able to talk about it because it would further demean his self-esteem in the same area, and yet continue with his accepted role of primary provider – that stress would be n-number of times higher than a woman’s stress of not being able to bear a child and become a mother. Women communicate, men can’t. if women are likened to a volcano in eruption, it also follows that some day they will cool down and regain their calm; men are an active, simmering volcano that will never erupt, that can never erupt, and hence in an infinitely more dangerous situation stress-wise.

But coming to my earlier point which I set out to make – is there a common psychology in the temperament of a woman that may lead to possible conditions of infertility? I believe so, yes. There may be views here that sound anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-science or too spiritual, but this is merely a collection of fine-tuned observations, over many long years, and each observation is open to counter-opinions and counter-views.

Conception was designed by God; so were man and woman. The physical body of a man or woman was supplemented by certain psychological and emotional characteristics that went with the body form. Staying true to the characteristics defined by God helped in his ultimate goal of human multiplication and reproduction.

A woman needs a man she can submit to, someone who can take control of her body, mind and soul; someone whom she can look up to as superior but who does not make her feel inferior; someone who can understand her inner angst and make her feel loved. That’s not a tall order. Men are designed to fulfill these needs in a woman. So when this equation more or less matches, even for a brief period, it prepares the ground for the birthing process. Men give, women receive and a child is conceived. It is not merely the physical exchange but the mental and emotional giving and receiving that completes the process. The point I am stressing here is that, even if for a brief period, the woman must be completely devoid of `ego’ to conceive. Ego restricts. Humility enables.

Barring women with genuine physical conditions that restrict fertility – my observation over the years has been that women with an infertility condition often exhibit traits of high self-centeredness, ego, rigidity in views and opinions, a distinct feeling of superiority over the male partner, an inability to let go of individuality, an inability to adjust and compromise to a bigger scheme of things, fear of responsibility and a high social esteem with a need for high social recognition. Their subconscious inability to “let go” of “control” conditions the body to create a barrier against sperms during intercourse and thus effectively preventing conception, and allowing the woman “to remain in control of happenings” so to say. The psychological rules the physical; and subconscious intentions will overpower conscious intentions.

Maybe the above analysis was too absolute; maybe there is always an open door for exceptions; but my above theory also explains the concept of “secondary-infertility”. If primary infertility is having no children, secondary infertility is not being able to conceive after one child. Usually, marital equations change few years after marriage; the earlier dominant partner turns submissive and vice-versa. So perhaps, a woman who allowed her man the upper hand in an equation early in the relationship may develop ego issues at a later stage; this then hampers further fertility.

Having a child is the most ego-crushing and liberating experience for a woman. Women who have been unable to conceive and have opted for adoption usually experience a humbleness they have never felt before once a child enters their life. This transforms the psyche of the woman to become more accepting and more giving, and usually it has been observed, that fertility sets in and woman conceives naturally even in exceptional cases. Same theory applies – motherhood requires an attitude of humility, and more importantly, an attitude to allow your man to feel superior and take control.

In cases of rape, usually the woman conceives; but then this crime, this heinous animalistic act of self-gratification is by far the most ego-crushing experience for any woman; the scars of which may last over several lifetimes.

In astrology, matrimonial horoscope matching in terms of nakshatra, lagna, the placement of mars etc. are all skewed towards establishing male superiority of horoscopes. To a liberated mind, this comes across as archaic and chauvinistic – but astrology evolved as a science over many long ages and was penned by sages who dedicated lifetimes to researching planets, planetary influences on body and mind, and the effect of those influences on human relationships.

All said and done, it is an undeniable fact that women have a place of equality and a place of pride on society; they have their unique worth and are entitled to their necessary dues; it is an equally undeniable fact the every woman secretly yearns for that special man who can tame her wild spirit, imprint himself upon her consciousness, and take control of her body; when that happens, a woman comes into contact with her softer, feminine side and then she will rediscover the essence of the vedic tenets of “man and woman”, “man and wife”, “male and female”, “yin and yang”, “shiv and shakti”. Conception and birthing then becomes an automatic by-product of an equation that has touched equilibrium, even if for a brief moment.

4/28/2012 8:08:53 PM

Psychology Of Group Dynamics

The Psychology of Group Dynamics

Many months back, sometime around early November last year, I had a spat with a close friend of mine. It was actually more than a spat; we kind of completely fell off talking terms. It escalated to a point where we more or less presumed we wouldn’t be crossing paths again. It wasn’t an easy place to be. Being in the same building, we meticulously timed our entry and exit into elevators so that we could avoid facing each other. Being on family terms, the spouses too did a good job of not accidentally bumping into each other, perhaps because they would not know what to say to each other. The tension was tangible, palpable.

This disturbed equation must have lasted close to 4 months; that is a really long time when you live in such close proximity. But coming to the point of this narration – it completely destroyed and threw out of gear, a circle of friends that I had so meticulously cultivated over 3 long years. The communication disruption touched all concerned. No one initiated a meeting for fear that either one of us wouldn’t turn up. We lost many holidays and weekends, which otherwise as a group we would never have missed. On a 1-to-1 personal discussion with friends, everyone wanted to know what happened, and everyone was updated from both ends separately.  Then loyalties came into play, and those who felt closer to me and thicker with me chose to take sides. This meant reflecting an attitude of reserve and coldness with my enemy of the moment.

That was when I realized that group dynamics had come into play. I stepped in and stopped it before it could even start. I have seen enough disruptions of human equations, both in my own experiences and all around me over the years. One common dynamic always emerges towards the end…

When 2 who are part of a bigger group fight -> people in the group take sides -> group gets disrupted -> factions are formed -> subtle battle lines are drawn -> egos accelerate and the fight takes bigger proportions than it ought to -> then the 2 warring factions remember the good old times and yearn for each other again ->then they look for ways to patch up (in my case retiming elevator entries and exits so that we did bump into each other) -> egos start descending -> both sides look for opportunities to put the past behind and restart (check on kids’ exam schedules, ask for a recipe) -> seek and you shall find, says the Bible, so one fine day they chance upon the perfect God-sent opportunity to hug and patch-up (in my case it was the Holi celebrations which allowed us to color each other’s faces and thankfully hide the color of our own embarrassment) -> having gone through a rough patch, they vow to be extra careful with each other’s feelings ->they are sensitized -> and then…

…the one common dynamic that always emerges towards the end… is that those who blatantly chose to take sides are shortchanged. They don’t now know where they stand. The will now have to bear the ire of those whom they chose not to side with. They live in guilt of having taken sides on an issue that was never theirs to begin with. There begins the degeneration of the group and the group’s inter-personal relationships.

So when I stepped in and nipped the loyalty attempts in the bud, I automatically saved my group from future complications; because I knew somewhere deep down, that sooner or later an attempt to reunite would begin from either end. It had to happen. I was willing it, though my ego prevented me from forgiving so easily. This was the friend that had stood up in strongest support of me in a time of my deepest personal crisis. How could I have let her go so easily?

What I consciously did do, was that I discouraged all group activity till the time both of us were ready for a face-off. It would have been easiest to boycott my enemy of the moment; there were numerous occasions when I could have brought it to pass; but boycotting is a very serious offence, and when someone is at the receiving end of it, they usually do not forget the act; I guess my patience to-hold-on-for-a-bit-longer paid off, and the reunification was not only worth it but totally without guilt on anyone’s shoulders.

Rewind to a couple of years back and there comes to mind, another incident that happened with me. Different time, different people, different faces, same group dynamics, but here I was at the receiving end of a social trauma that I still cannot seem to erase from the subconscious layers of my mind.

Best friends -> over many long years -> we reconnect in Bombay after about 17 odd years -> delighted -> I initiate an all inclusive group gathering -> then the dynamics change from the other end -> maybe there were external influences that stole the show -> maybe there were hidden reasons which were never vocalized -> but what resulted was not just a break-off but a total boycott -> the boycott was not just by the friend in question, but by an entire group that chose to take sides on an issue that was never theirs to begin with. Unfortunately, it happened at a time when I was going through a personal crisis and my need to reach out to people was greatest. Friends about whom I had warm memories in my mind, friends with whom I had made a more than fair share of human effort, all chose to take sides. There were meetings, gatherings, house-warming, house-parties, picnics, holidays – to none of which I was invited. It was a humiliating and humbling experience.

Then the inevitable happened. Best friend apologizes, best friend accepts, best friends patch-up. So what then happens to the earlier group that chose to line up in support of the other? The guilt factor sets in, then the anger that they perhaps compromised on human values -> then the invites begin -> invitations to catch-up over coffee, invitations to come home, invites to parties, invites with family. I concede when I’m in the mood, I refuse when I’m not. If the effort required from my end is minimal, curiosity gets the better of me, and I oblige, I’m curious to know what people have to say to me; where I sense that I may have step outside my existing comfort zone and make that extra effort to blend in, I refuse.

There is no guilt or pressure from my end to accept or refuse an invite. When people had a chance to call the shots, they called it the way they chose to. I have come to terms with that, and I hold no grudges. Today, I’m in a peaceful space, I have overcome the trauma of my personal crisis, I have no emotional need to connect with families or the need to ask for a share in the joy of being with children. If I had been welcomed at a moment I had been reaching out for a hand to hold, today I could have multiplied that gesture manifold and returned it with gratitude.

I have asked the most uncomfortable questions to myself and have answered my own questions with unflattering answers. I have swayed to both extreme ends of the pendulum and have found my own inner equilibrium. Maybe it’s time others did the same.

4/29/2012 7:17:10 PM