Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Untiring Healer of the Mind

Interview by
Kuldip Dhiman

Dr N. L. Dosajh
Dr N. L. Dosajh. — Photo by the writer

While it is normal for most living beings to suffer from some kind of physical ailment, human beings are unique for they suffer from a number of disorders that do not appear to have a physical cause, these are mental disorders. And there are doctors who specialise in treating such disorders. Dr N. L. Dosajh has spent his entire life in the service of those who are tormented by the demons of the mind.

"Mental health is a very serious matter", cautions Dr Dosajh, a highly experienced psychoanalyst, "unfortunately, in our country we do not take it seriously. There is a stigma attached to seeing a psychiatrist. If mental health is neglected, it could lead to serious problems. After a stage, the patient could become a problem to not only to society but also to himself. Professional help should be sought at the earliest"

Although, nudging ninety, Dosajh refuses to call it a day. The main cause of mental ill health, the doctor says, is a drop in the level of consciousness. "When consciousness is at higher levels, an individual is in perfect mental health, but when it drops to lower levels, neurosis is the result, and the lower you go, the more neurotic you become. The major reason for the weakening of consciousness are repression, conflicts, complexes, frustrations and setbacks in life."

To get to the root of the mental disorder, Dosajh interviews the patient as well as the family, and even friends. Often, the repression is so severe that there is a great resistance from the patient to reveal the inner conflicts as most of them are sex-related. Usually the patient is totally unaware of them, and is unable to tell the doctor anything much about the problem. In such cases, various other methods are used to delve into the unconscious of the patient. "I use free association, Rorschach inkblot test, hypnosis and so on. If none of them work, I try to get clues from the patient's dreams. Or I might ask the patient to make up a story, and from the patient's imagination I get hints about the cause of neurosis. It is only after a thorough analysis, I decide on the right technique to be used for a cure which varies from patient to patient, upon the seriousness of the disorder and so on. There are no short-cuts or readymade formulas here."

Using his wide experience, Dosajh devised his own test called the D-Test. "When you undergo a D-Test," explains the doctor, "three sheets of paper with 12 rectangles, are presented to you. Each rectangle has on it a few lines. You are asked to make further additions to the lines and draw any figure that occurs to you. You have about an hour and a half to finish your drawing, and it is not necessary to be an artist to complete this test." Based on the figures the patient makes, Dosajh gets clues to the unconscious cause of their neurosis, and only then he decides on the nature of cure, be it stress-relieving exercises like yoga and meditation, autosuggestion, hypnosis, or in some cases even medication. "But I try to avoid the use of medicines as much as possible. I prefer rejuvenating the life force and the mental energy of the patient." With these improvised techniques, the doctor has cured dozens of patients suffering from schizophrenia, personality disorders, and so on.

The major influence on Dosajh's life is Carl Jung on whose theories he based his own work. Others who inspired him are Sigmund Freud, G. Murphy and the behaviorist, B. F. Skinner. Dosajh realised that Indian tradition offered many effective techniques, and it was worthwhile including them in his therapy. Interaction with Shri Akhand Swami of Gangotri in the late 1930s, and Swami Sivanand in the 1950s further honed his skills. He was also greatly influenced by the teachings of Swami Akhilanand, Geraldine Coster, Shri Aurobindo, Mahesh Yogi, Bloomfield Harold and Kory Robert B. Using the foundations of western psychology and Indian systems, he fused yoga and meditation with psychoanalysis to create his own theory which he calls New Personality Theory.

In his long career, Dosajh was recognised by the professional community in many ways. In 1956, he was sent as a UNESCO Fellow to work at the International Institute of Child Study at Bangkok and was a Guest Professor at the PGI for over 20 years. Despite an illustrious career and a huge volume of published work (15 books and over 50 articles in journals), there are no takers for his new book Science of Mental Healing. "One publisher agreed to print it but said I would have to first shell down two lakh rupees."

All these setbacks are compensated when his former patients call on him and spend some time at his home. Just a few days ago, Sarita whom he cured of severe schizophrenia when she was about 25 bought him a lovely gift. When the doctor refused to take it, she said, "This is a small gesture to thank you for the gift of life you gave me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Due to sleep apnea I suffered from
sleeplessness for months and got
in to dipression.I was not suffering from any mental agony still I used to get suicidal.After
years of strugle my problem was
analysed to be related to sleep apnea and I was advised to use a
dental fixture to pull my lower jaw
forward during sleep so as to improve my breathing.The damage
caused to my brain health was repaired with the help of medicine
and I am here talking to you my
dear sir.To conclude I want to say with conviction that all the mental problems do not necessisarily originate from mind,
they can be physical as wel.

Deshraj Latotra