At Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) where I volunteer and support, on every fourth Saturday, a guest lecture is arranged, as part of awareness and knowledge sharing for patients with mental illness(PMI) and their caregivers. The process of recovery and caregiving is very challenging process and these monthly supplemental sessions, along with self-help support groups(SHSGs) help both PMI and caregiver. This month’s session was on role of emotions management for PMI and caregivers. This was delivered by renowned psychologist Dr C G Deshpande. I managed to attend this fourth Saturday(April 23) session after long time, I wanted to cover this topic here on the blog.
Dr C G Deshpande, now in his eighties, is renowned psychologist, professor at various universities, researcher and author of various books. His latest book titled Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia, which deals with topic of chronic schizophrenia, why don’t they respond to treatments, and what can be done about it. This book came out as outcome of major research project he had undertaken under UGC grant. He started his speech by remembering Dr Shirwaikar, who was among the first ones to underline the importance of psychological aspects during treatment of schizophrenia, along with medicines, which he termed as behavioral medicine. He then went on sighting different examples and cases where significance of emotions was underlined.
We often hear word like emotional quotient and why it is important. Having emotional intelligence, emotional literacy in the families is becoming increasing a need of the hour. Empathy plays important role in building trusted relations in all walks of life. He quoted famous author Dennis Jaffe’s famous statement, all diseases are social diseases. It is now widely accepted that emotions impact body. Emotions are learnt socially and covers spectrum of aspects including understanding our own emotions, and also of others, responding appropriately to them. In the western world, the new discipline called Self Science has been developed for enhancing emotional well-being, emotional literacy, especially at young age. He also elaborated a personality disorder Alexithymia which is related to inert inability to understand and express emotions. Many mental illnesses find their roots in lack of understanding emotions, not able to respond appropriately to emotional needs of members of the family, or emotional trauma which persons go through. He also highlighted another psychological aspect which is anxiety and how it can cause mental disorder. He underlined the need of empathizing with PMIs on their feelings and emotions. While talking of emotions, and ability to express them, he touched upon a very fundamental topic of schizophrenia which is related to fact that PMIs generally loose coordination between emotions, thought and behavior. He elaborated that, during counseling process one can apply concept called by applying EDLOF(emotional discrimination and labeling of faces), to recognize the deviation.
Similarly, he underlined the need of being cognizant of the emotions of PMI as well as caregiver, and appropriately responding to them. Specifically, the challenges in the journey of caregiving, the understanding of general psychology becomes important. Some aspects of REBT in caregiving were handled during a session at SAA sometime back. He underlined the need of creating, as far as possible, a permissive atmosphere, rather than disciplined or authoritarian atmosphere for PMIs that can go long way in recovery process. In other words, the irritation quotient of caregivers needs to be low, and emotional quotient needs to be higher. He also went on giving some tips to caregivers, such as accepting emotions of PMIs as they are, never using emotionally loaded negative words during conversations with PMIs, never punish PMIs including emotional punishment, empathize with PMIs, recognizing/keeping track of emotional level at various time during the day, keeping normal emotions and facial expressions as far possible.
This session which lasted for more than an hour, was quite enlightening covering aspects of psychology in general and emotions specifically. I am sure this will help caregivers and counselors understand and deal with various challenges in the process of their wards’ recovery and caregiving itself.