Security Equals Mental Well being
women no doubt enjoy more freedom and contribute their share
in the economic growth of the country. This transition of
conventional to a more modern role has a cost to their mental
health. Having a job and being occupied outside the home
is often helpful for women's mental health though, it is
actually the total amount of stress experienced by an individual
that determines the level of mental wellbeing. Women who
stretch themselves beyond their capacity are making themselves
more vulnerable. They are sometimes imposed with super human
roles, which can lead to a crisis. Housewives also find
themselves under severe stress in day to day matters.
against women is constantly rising. Someone may argue that
the situation was always like this; the only difference
is that they are getting more coverage now. Still, a vast
majority of cases remain unreported. Rape, inhuman torture
for dowry, physical/mental/financial abuse by men in the
family as well as sexism and discrimination against women
are regular phenomena in our social life.
Women in this country face the greatest insecurity. They
are angry inside and this internalised anger gives rise
to depression. Richard von Krafft-Ebing invented the term
“masochism”. He defined it in his Psychopathic Sexualis
(1886) as “the wish to suffer pain and to be subjected to
force”. He saw it as a “perversion” only in men. “In women”,
he contended, “voluntary subjection to the opposite sex
is a psychological phenomenon.
to her passive role in procreation and long-existent social
conditions, ideas of subjection are, in women, normally
connected with the idea of sexual relations. They form the
harmonics, which define the tone-quality of feminine feeling.
Krafft-Ebing insisted a deviation to masterful behaviour,
though loudly rejected, that this is often accepted with
secret satisfaction. Twenty-first century women will not
accept this outdated concept. Feminist movements in the
western world (in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries)
evolved through different stages to address these issues
of discrimination, social injustice, and “social purity”
(which advocated a single standard of sexual morality against
the double standard of secret lives). It was identified
that violence against women is closely linked to social
issues like power,
marriage, sexuality and prostitution.
in the seventies of the last century, equal rights for
women were recognised as the solution for these discrepancies.
Women can enjoy a freer life today in respect to their choices
in lifestyle. Unfortunately, the main issue “
violence or crime against women” is still alarmingly high
even in the western world. Rape and wife beating occurs
mainly among the poor, emotional abuse (negligence, moral
hypocrisy) is more common among the upper
and middle class.
who stretch themselves beyond their capacity are making
themselves more vulnerable.
own society is also getting liberal to some extent. But
a safer environment is essential for mental health. In general,
women are poorer than men and are paid less than their male
counterparts. The issue of violence is also closely linked
to poverty, overall law and order situation as well as social
There are also many contradictions for women in our society.
Women are trained to be dependent on a society that is not
at all dependable. Women are taught to be caretakers of
others but unable to take charge of their own lives. It
becomes very difficult for an abused woman to convince others
about her situation. People usually question her share of
responsibility in the abuse at the initial stage. By the
time the pattern becomes obvious, it is already too late.
Single living is yet not a valid choice for an adult woman
and the society fails to recognise the emotional complexity
of the situation.
are held responsible for the monumental task of building
and maintaining relationships. If she fails in making others
happy, she proves herself worthless. Over emphasis on feminine
youth and beauty constantly makes women feel inadequate.
Shame and guilt is part of upbringing in a woman's life.
Secrecy and tendency to sweep everything under the rug,
ultimately gives rise to multige-nerational anger and rage.
and community are affected too. At the slums, streets and
crowded residential areas people are seen yelling, swearing
and hitting each other. Look at politics, how aggressive
the political rivals are. It's a lose-lose scenario everywhere,
nobody is interested in healthy conflict resolution. It
didn't happen overnight. The root is in the family, in childhood
learning. Introducing newer laws with severe punishment
cannot be the only answer. In a dysfunctional family of
power and control intimidation, abuse, threats, exploiting
children, male privilege are some of the recognisable features.
a family of equality- there is shared responsibility, economic
partnership, respect, trust, honesty and responsible parenting.
How many families are operating on the basis of equality?
Men are ashamed when they lack power and status as they
are viewed too much like women. Women lack power and status
and feel ashamed because they are women. If they strive
for power and status, they are ashamed of being “unfeminine”.
Either way they lose. Incompetent parents are producing
children with conduct disorder, personality disorder and
who become substance abusers. Ironically, we need a license
to drive a vehicle but can become a parent whenever we wish!
batters us whether we are rich or poor, male or female.
The wounds we suffer may be an open cut or a silent slow
haemorrhage of the soul. On the outside we might look all
right but inside we are shattered into a thousand pieces.
With negligible support for the healing of the wounded souls,
often we feel frightened and fragile. Our dysfunctional
behaviour is mainly motivated by fear. We fear being hurt
by others, being destroyed by others and use a huge amount
of ego-defences for self-protection. In society when we
repeatedly come across dysfunctional people, eventually
we react in a dysfunctional way too.
lower middle class mother accompanied by her adolescent
daughter comes to a psychiatrist. After giving a long list
of vague symptoms, the mother finally reveals (in a confidential
tone and physically shaking in fear), a history of incest
in the family. The psychiatrist looks at the innocent blank
face of the young girl. Outside is waiting the sick, alcoholic
father without any remorse. The psychiatrist has no “magic
pill” to rewind her life to normalcy. Lack of a meaningful
support system for these kinds of victims is a shame for
the society. “Don't Talk”, “Don't Feel” rule of the society
cannot be an answer. The psychiatrist wanted to tell her
client; “ Cry! Cry out loud till this indifferent pretending
society is rocked!”
next patient comes in; she gives a horrific history of physical
and mental abuse by her spouse and in-laws but is unable
to leave, as her personal skills or family support do not
allow her to be courageous enough. She wants medicine to
numb her true feelings. The psychiatrist feels bad about
dehumanising her feelings and gives a diagnostic label to
this normal person. In an attempt to offer her temporary
relief by a relaxation therapy (guided imagery method),
she says, “Imagine a time when the situation is under your
control; imagine a society, which will respond to your crisis
and offer a helping hand; imagine yourself as a woman who
exerts, initiates and moves on her own behalf…” The poor
woman cries. “ I cannot imagine”. A little nervous and hopeless,
the psychiatrist then tries to “imagine a big tidal bore
that comes with all its rage and ferocity to take away the
ugliness and sickness of the society, leaving you alone
in a new land of peace and non-violence. You are a free
woman.” It seemed to work. The psychiatrist felt guilty
though, for inventing this culturally sensitive method at
such a high national cost.