While blogging at an all American site that has now been deleted (in absolute violation of basic human rights and no one write a word of protest about that?), I began to learn about how disability is perceived in the USA through the blog posts of friends diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, PTSD, post war traumas etc.
I learned with a sort of increasing alacrity how well they are taken care of by the State as I read through accounts of their interaction with the social service people, their visit to the clinics, and learned that most of the time if you are indeed diagnosed with a disability that renders you in any manner a little bit less “in-control of your self” than any of your counterparts in the community, the government takes responsibility of housing you, financing you, providing you with the basic needs of food, shelter, and safety.
Of course like with all systems of the world this is also ridden with corrupt practices and not always do the desired good results happen but mostly, seventy percent of the time they do and so it works for them.
My bi-polar friends do not have to have a regular job, they get some kind of State allowance for their basic needs, shelter, medication.
They are all educated intelligent people and capable of blogging and deep thought but they are incapable of dealing with social responsibilities like managing relationships at work or in their personal lives, they often live in isolation (but NOT locked away in an asylum) with the misery of their volatile tempers, and dispositions. All of them had access to public libraries and internet is free in all public libraries in the USA. I think that is wonderful and as it should be, USA, where knowledge at least they kept “free” even though institutionalised education cost the earth. (But they have so many different kinds of grants that of one really wants to, they can go to college and study).
And what about India?
My friend’s mother is delusional, suffers from some kind of debilitating mental disorder that is causing her to lose her memory, and she in no way should be allowed to hold family documents or control family resources, jeopardizing the safety and security of her own offspring. In India however in schools they are silent about such things that constitute very important life lessons.
There was a child in my class in grade 3 that is suffering from some kind of attention seeking disorder that makes him want to be the center of attention at ALL times, and when he does not get that he turns destructive. But his parents and class teacher, the school co-ordinator are oblivious of the matter. If he is not given proper attention now, he would turn dangerous later and in the hands of unscrupulous people would become a potent instrument of harm to to other lives around him.
The idea in India is mental illness is restricted to people being “crazy”. Indians do not understand psychosis, and what is dangerous is often misreads eccentricity in gifted people as “illness”.
One psychiatrist I had been to in 2005 after the incident in my life made me take all the tests, and then had correctly diagnosed “you do not need me, you need a very good lawyer and your friends, you are suffering from trauma, I can give you something to calm your nerves for now, but you should see a lawyer”. Another one referred to me by my cancer-specialist classmate friend, tried to “fix” the situation with drugs he was too busy to listen.
One thing everyone walking in to the chamber of an India doctor should stop to consider how these children that are now doctors grew up, what kind of parenting they have had or schooling or life experiences. Were they raised to take responsibility or their parents lugged their bags to school for them. The sight of children walking ahead or on a train with their parents like faithful servants lugging their schools bags a step behind them is a very common sight in many cities of India.
These doctors have never been taught to help others, feel compassion, go out of their way to assist other people not related to them, they are not even raised to be comfortable with strangers. They grow up without any sort of real interaction or meaningful engagement with the community around them and they grow up fed on lies and myths about people which they get from their peers and their over protective parents. They are never allowed near people that are different from them. They never have ever been with people suffering from mental agony or pain. They have never actually ever suffered any kind of mental trauma themselves.
They read definitions of symptoms and manifestations in their big fat medical journals and if they have mney get into medical schools, and one fine day they get their expensive degrees and they turn to “treat” people with “mental disorders”, without clue about the morphology of the human mind in any real sense.
They are not encouraged to read literature (unlike in the West where even in law schools and tech students are encouraged to read and unless you begin to understand people and life around you , develop these insights, how do you design for them anyways?) and many top performers are clueless about poetry and the arts and therefore clueles about artistic minds work and how a literature person would think. They are not taught about cause and effect or to discern.
I have often tried to strike up a conversation with people of this category, couped up in an ac compartment on a train and discovered how clueless they are about life in general.
So, India’s problem is two fold.
a) No one to recognize and clearly define the conditions that need support either chemical drugs or just human attention (like when people were banging on my door in the middle of the night and I called the BV counsellor I had been referred to by a doctor friend, she did not even pick up the phone and when she did and I told her why I had called and what was going on, she said come to the office in the morning!).
b) Incompetent human resources in the form of degreed but incompetent and uninitiated-to-life-experiences, dependent-on-mommy-for-their-every-need child-men-women as your “doctors”, that are out to make money out of your misery but not really there to put you back your feet and get you going again.
So then what?
School curriculums have to be reformed, designed to script minds that can attain the competencies required to help and serve people. But no one ever listens in India and so we would never be the USA or Europe ever.
We have brains and money.
We lack common sense and the will to do good and the courage to be human and lack basic faith in the goodness of man.