August 9, 2012 By Haseena Fathima

Why don’t we care?

depressionIt did not take much time for him to realize that the woman whom he has identified as the personification of love and innocence got bedridden not out of any serious physical illness. So did her physicians, either. Medical tests to which she underwent proved anything which justifies her condition. Specializations changed. General medicine, orthopedics, neurology. All sorts of doctors came and went with a frown over what has actually happened.

She has earlier exhibited unusual psychic conditions. She was childishly stubborn. Sometimes she left home, especially when he scolded her. ‘Childish,’ he remembered, is the apt word to describe her behavior after their marriage. He married her when she was at the young age of thirteen. And he was 25. Scold a daughter of yours, who is about to finish her school. You can see her leaving home in abandon. As a teacher, he has to deal with students whose behavior is normally abnormal. You can’t see bunking class, disobedience, and silly rebellions as disorders but the processes in which one adapts to the nascent or emerging adolescence.

But society can’t be expected to think in the way a teacher does. While he understood her stubbornness as just expressions of immaturity, people around him thought of it as deviations. They simply take her as a married woman and each expression of her rebellion, for them, was disobedience. They freely doled out advice to him to keep track of her and teach her obedience. He adopted the same stance that he does to disobedient girls in his classroom; just ignored her as if she was not there. Hardly did he think that he was just adding fuel to the fire.


Watching her lying inert on bed with her high-spirited rebellion subdued, he went sobbing. How ardently he desired her to get out of bed and leave the whole Dettol-reeking hospital behind. How ardently he desired her to be as rebellious and stubborn as she had always been. He was just measuring the value of life in the face of death, when he was called for by the doctor.

That was just a professional way of expressing his helplessness. ‘There is nothing to do,’ the doctor said glancing through the bridge of his spectacles. ‘As you yourselves are pretty sure that there is a psychological edge to her condition, why not consult a psycho analyst? I will arrange a meeting with the psychiatrist at the hospital.’

‘No, sir.’ He declined, ‘I have already fixed an appointment with a friend of mine.’


While he was narrating the whole story to me, he was just sobbing. The thread of the problem lies far beyond his analysis of her immaturity and childishness. She was the 7th child of her father’s 12 children. He married for the second time after her mother died. The family was so big that all its members felt to be just dwarfs. And she did not have her mother, who would have filled her vacant spaces with love and care.

She just wanted to study more and school was a world of her own. But members of big families with scant resources had to make sacrifices. Education was not just something which would make you enlightened. It is, further, an opportunity deeply rooted in the economy. It is something to be bought and used with care. In patriarchal societies women have to sacrifice her dreams of education as they have to leave way for the males. This is especially so in big families. The destiny that awaits her is a marital life. She was awaiting the same; too, as that was the only way she could have attention which she had thus far lacked.


He was waiting for a mature woman in his life; someone who would be more a surrogate mother than a wife. The pictures both of them formed of their future partners were almost a carbon copy. The difference is that she was needier of his care, as he had not had attention deficiency in his life. When the expectations failed to similar, they could not help but colliding with each other. When she began showing what he termed her immaturity or childishness, his disappointment aggravated which turned into a cold shoulder. On her part, she was traversing a familiar path. When it was her parents and siblings who avoided her in her childhood, now it is the man, who she thought would listen to her. She started to pile up her sorrows and got stressed. But he did not know that she was going through the emotional stress, the worst she has ever suffered in her life. Ignoring her was rejection upon rejection which made her believe that she was not important.


Personality adaptation is a technical term in psychology. In the face of unexpected situations in life, people adapt themselves to a form of behavior which will have both positive and negative bearings on their lives. We need to build on the positive and lessen the negative. Schizoid Personality adaptation was the character trait that ‘the woman exhibited in this case. People who have adapted themselves to schizoid personality will stay aloof from other people, withdrawing themselves into their own world. They think a lot and thought is the language in which they communicate the most. And more often than not, they speak only to themselves. The problem is that they don’t put their thoughts into action and withdraw in relation to other people, being happy to be on their own.

In all conditions, there are three degrees by which problem develops: in the first they become simply ineffective; in the second stage, they become dysfunctional; in the third stage the adaptation reaches the pathology level at which they can’t control themselves. Up to the second stage, the analyst can solve the problem using therapy. In the third stage, s/he needs drugs to control it.

In this case, the extremity of her condition is proved by her running away from home.


Sobbing, he went to the hospital. The whole floor was dark with only the nurses’ room remaining with lights. There were people here and there with eyes that had had many sleepless nights. He got into the room. Her sister and his mother were there. He sat beside her and patted her on her cheeks.

Posted in: Counselling