I have been working in the area of recovery for at least a few years now and what I find is there are at least a few impediments to ‘recovery’, especially in India.
The first seems to be the internal communication within families- which is often severely fractured.
The second seems an over-riding belief in psychiatric medication year after year and looking up to psychiatrists to decide the future course of their own or their loved ones’ lives.
The belief that there is a mental ‘illness’ and it can be ‘cured’ via medication, the way fever can be! In other words, complete surrender to the biomedical perspective, regardless of seeing evidence to its contrary.
The next thing is that I will be talking about some of these issues in a Symposium in Greece later this summer. The irony of the situation is that I am going there to learn how to work with the OPEN DIALOGUE APPROACH from the people who have created the method in Finland, but the scenario on the ground in India is utterly dismal. Families just do not come into dialogue together. Of course we cannot have a situation that is prevailing in Western Lapland here- but the intra-family dynamics, that can be the sole fulcrum of change, are actually poised against ‘recovery’ at present.
But of course there are scores of cases of recovery also and in each of them, the role of family is visible and significant. However, that reminds me of a lady I had met in Goa, who thought that as a parent she was so important and at the center of the whole situation that her daughter (given a schizophrenia label) was a minor actor and she needed to be at the center of our conversations. It was a great failure, as far as I am concerned. She never let the daughter establish a direct and meaningful relationship with me, which if it had developed, may have produced different outcomes.
I have been interested in Open Dialogue for a long time- several years at least, and an opportunity to meet with Prof. Seikkula and several others from around the world will be a great experience of learning and sharing my own experiences of working here. Certainly there is no harm in wanting to do better, regardless of how people behave with each other, because I know from my own practice also that people can completely recover, needn’t take medication for even a single day just by talking it out in a patient, trusting environment, and of course never look back at therapy/counseling again. I find that the best thing, when a person is so well that they never need to come back into counseling, but not after a fractured communication, which is more likely to happen in India, because we people have more faith in a prescription and not in a conversation- which seems only words.
At present I am fiddling with what topic I would be talking about at the seminar. I have to nail it down and send it to the organizers. How I wish I had something to say about the Open Dialogue approach here, but I think i will stick with peer counseling and how lived experience is a rich firmament to start this work from and take it further. Or may be I can talk about the fact that in India most people are not ready with the post-modern collaborative stance, and they look at the therapist at the ‘expert’ a position I try hard to move away from, even if I have a certain set of knowledge. That knowledge does not produce complacency, but calmness in the face of storms. Of course when individuals who are in stormy situations or families are there, that knowledge does not let me lose my ground and perspective and take opposing positions, and that is what really works finally. SO straddling these gap between conflicting parties is always useful and that is where my knowledge comes in handy.
Oh and since the symposium is in Greece, we have to read Plato’s symposium and go!
Last bit, water finds it’s own level. I was keen to do a Phd in counseling and all my efforts were in that direction and then came along the current option, for want of better options, but then the heart always takes one in the direction of their dreams> So here I am -learning about Open Dialogues, instead of Law!