Atie, a girl who grew up in a small town in East India, was smarter than others, and loved to read. She often suffered from dyspnea, dark eyesight and even fainting due to anxiety since she was a child, or because of excessive exam pressure, she had to relieve herself through self-harm .
In her small town, people don’t understand mental illness, and Artie is often blamed by teachers and even the principal, who think her behavior is causing trouble for herself and others. Artie told me that after she was admitted to the English Literature Department of Delhi University, she finally stopped being regarded as an outlier.
There, the best female students in the country are either taking medicine or receiving psychological counseling. No one shy away from this.
Atie studied at the best “Lady of St. Rama’s College” in Delhi University, and her classmates were the best female students from all over India. Many students have been diagnosed with mental illness, and they do not shy away from mentioning that they have depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, post-traumatic syndrome, etc., and even regard it as part of their self-identity.
Atti, who came to the big city of Delhi from a small place, seems to have finally found his own Utopia in the special small field of “Lady St. Rama’s Women’s College” which belongs to the elite.
In recent years, in metropolitan areas of India, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, people’s awareness of mental health has been on the rise. Many people suspect that they are suffering from mental illness, seek diagnosis, and seek psychological counseling services. Years ago the situation was very different.
Ten years ago, my good friend Judy in Bangalore, like Artie, was a good student who graduated from the Department of English Literature. Her husband was a senior executive in a multinational IT company, and the couple had a very good relationship. After Judy got married, she began to have symptoms of depression. She couldn’t feel the joy of life, couldn’t get up every day, and found it extremely difficult to do any small things. When she decided to seek professional help and see a psychiatrist for consultation, her husband and parents-in-law could not accept it, thinking that her daughter-in-law’s mental health problems meant that they had done something wrong, which was a great shame to the family. This makes Judy’s situation even more desperate.
In recent years, there has been a “psychological fever” in India’s metropolitan areas. Changes in the professional choices of young people can clearly illustrate this point.
Influenced by the British colonial rule in the past, the first choice of the best humanities students was the Department of English Literature. At that time, people with good English and literary literacy could directly enter commercial companies or public service systems. After India’s independence, the Department of Mechanical and Engineering became more popular. However, in terms of liberal arts, the Department of English Literature still has a very lofty symbolic status of culture and civilization, and is still regarded as the first choice. The situation is very different now. The first choice of liberal arts students is no longer the English department, but the psychology department. Artie said: “Most of my classmates came to the English department after failing the psychology department.”
The situation is very different now. The first choice of liberal arts students is no longer the English department, but the psychology department.
University of Delhi “Ladies of St. Rama’s College”
In the past, elites who were not satisfied with the status quo were mostly romantic youths and idealists. Many wanted to reform Indian society through academic research or creation. Today, those who are impatient with the classroom, full of ambitions for the future, Students who are eager to try, think about starting a business and making money. Young students in India understand the business opportunities brought about by this wave of “psychological fever”, and their ambition is not just to be a psychological counselor.
Aya, who often misses classes in the first year of the master’s program in psychology at Rebecca University in Delhi, told me: “Going to class is a waste of time. I don’t have time to waste reading things that are useless.” I asked her: “So what are you doing?” What are you busy with?” She said: “I am starting a business, and I am developing a new app with my partner. Through this app, parents can initially judge whether their children have autism, and can find out early and seek medical treatment.”
Ah Ya said: “I don’t have time, I have to make money.” I asked her: “Is it a request from the family? Does the family need money urgently? Or do mom and dad want you to make money early?” She said: “No, they don’t I hope so, it’s me, I’m 21 years old, my brother is studying information engineering, he was already making a lot of money at my age.”
“Everyone is a Psychologist”
India’s psychological craze is highly dependent on the application of information technology. During the lockdown period of the new crown pneumonia in 2021 and 2022, new psychological apps have sprung up. As long as you press a button, you can make an appointment with a psychological counselor without anyone knowing Time for online consultation, online consultation, online payment, good products for the soul during the closure of the city.
India, which does not have a culture of psychological counseling, has not had legal regulations on the education, training and occupation of practitioners. In April 2021, the Ministry of Health of India drafted relevant education and professional norms through the National Healthcare-related Professional Committee, which has not yet been implemented. The current situation can be said to be: “everyone is a psychological counselor”.
Ami, a 35-year-old hospital administrator, was divorced during the epidemic. Feeling depressed, she contacted a counselor through an online platform. During the consultation, the male counselor began to talk about his breakup experience and his desire to commit suicide after the breakup. A Mei’s mood worsened after the talk, and she decided not to continue. Two days later, she received a message from the APP asking if she was interested in registering as a consultant on the APP. These platforms sell consulting services as commodities, just like on Amazon, you can be a buyer or a seller.
I myself am studying for a Ph.D. in psychology in India. What I study is not psychological counseling, but psychological analysis created by Freud, the author of “The Interpretation of Dreams”. Cognitive-behavioral theory develops psychological counseling techniques to teach people what to think and do in the face of unreasonable emotions, and how to effectively control them. Psychoanalysis is different. It maintains Freud’s “free association” method, explores repression and unconsciousness by telling and listening to oneself, and solves emotional problems from the root.
The development history of psychoanalysis in India is very long. The Indian Psychoanalytic Society was founded in 1922, only three years later than the British Psychoanalytic Association. The founder, Keeling Posier, was born in 1886 and was the first psychoanalyst in India. He had many correspondences with Freud since 1921.
Two of the 15 founding members of the Indian Psychoanalytic Society are British, and one of them is Berkeley Hill, an important member of the British Society. His analysis of Indians is very racist and even racially discriminatory. He believes that Indian men have sexual desires similar to those of homosexuals, which can easily lead to disgust from others. Today, it is simply homophobic remarks.
But it is not incomprehensible. Indian boys have a feminine quality. The friendship between men and men is very direct, and the physical relationship is very close. Hugging and holding hands are very natural. We often see boys walking hand in hand on the street, which is loved and hated by British gentlemen who advocate masculinity.
Keeling Poser disagrees with this interpretation, arguing that the problem is that Freud’s Oedipus theory does not apply to Indians. The worldview and gender identity of Indians are more feminine, and their gender identity is quite fluid. Men do not reject femininity, and many mothers also like to wear women’s clothing for their little boys. Porche often said that psychoanalysis, like Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia or allopathic medicine, is a medical system with its own worldview and different effects on people in different circumstances.
Bo is like Tagore, and like many Chinese literati in the early 20th century, he is well-read and knowledgeable. Keeling Boss himself majored in chemistry and was a chemist, but he also studied Sanskrit, intellectual history, and was also an experimental psychologist, doctor, teacher, artist, translator and author. He is also the author of the very popular book of fairy tales. In other words, Bauer’s psychoanalytic practice was not so “specialized,” but a fusion of Indian philosophy, traditional thought, and other interests. After all, the essence of human suffering cannot be exhausted by one school or one set of methods.
These platforms sell consulting services as commodities, just like on Amazon, you can be a buyer or a seller.
Psychoanalysis in India belongs to the ideal of the “previous generation”. Most of my psychoanalysts and teachers in India are important promoters of the psychoanalysis movement. They have extremely low material desires and are dedicated to seeking knowledge and truth. On the one hand, they are attracted by the brand-new knowledge perspectives from the West, and on the other hand, they also understand the limitations and deficiencies of such knowledge in India. They hope to explore the differences in human suffering and human subconsciousness between Eastern and Western cultures.
Indian psychoanalyst, scholar, and writer Sudhir Kak has dedicated his life to establishing Indian psychoanalysis. He believes that Hindu spirituality and psychoanalysis are interlinked. In a speech he said: “I often like to say this metaphor half-jokingly. The difference between psychoanalysis and spiritual practice is like the difference between a bachelor’s course and a master’s course in a university. More advanced training in psychoanalysis, however, they are pursuing the same goal.”
Sudhir Kako is also similar to Keeling Poche, who believes that the theory of “Oedipus Complex” does not apply to Indians culture. Because Indians have never really been completely separated from their mothers and their families to become “individuals” under the modern definition of the West. He hated the idea that his deeply interdependent, entangled relationship with his parents and family was pathological and abnormal, and he fought it all his life.
He often told a story that Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, was the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the goddess of the snow mountain, and his elder brother was Kumara, the god of war. When the two brothers were young, one day, a traveler from afar visited their parents and presented them with a magical and beautiful mango.
When his mother Parvati wanted to cut the fruit to share the food, the traveler said that this fruit cannot be cut and can only be eaten by one person. He suggested: “It is better to let two children compete, who can circle the world first Three laps, whoever will get this magical fruit.” Upon hearing this, the elder brother immediately set off to complete three laps around the world as fast as possible.
However, when he came home, he saw that his younger brother had already held the mango in his hand, and his mother told him: “When you were outside, your younger brother circled three times around your father’s and me’s feet, and he said, we are his world.”