Psychosocial impact of Corona

(By Dr.Nelson Joseph Kattikat)

Corona, the pandemic which has swept the whole world affecting all most all countries without discriminating the developed nations from the developing ones, has reinstated the fact that all these socio-religious classification are meaningless. It has even nullified the segregation of nations as developed and developing as even countries considered to be having very high Gross Domestic Product and Human development index, with superior health facilities are struggling to bring their mortality rates due to Corona under control, more than developing countries.
When people got isolated massively and countries went on
“lock down” for the first time in our history, we came to know that we as humans who are gregarious in nature have been created to live as social beings, rather than to live in isolation, as indicated by Harry Harlow’s attachment theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
A significant trend noticed in the general population after the pandemic has struck us, is the shift towards spiritualism, increase in existential anxiety and search for meaning or purpose of life rather than blind religiosity as more and more people have started to realize that the essence of all religions is one i.e the only true religion consist of having a good heart. However, some turned to astronomy, occult practices and faith healings.

All of us including students, the working population and those who are waiting for retirement who were in the habit of whining that we are always running short of time due to our busy lifestyle and those of us who bragged that had we got a few days off this hectic schedule, we would have accomplished much more, have started to realize that it is not about not having time, because we now have excess free time, but doing nothing. The urge for creativity and productivity is dependent on social recognition, making time based on our priorities and social interactions, which proved the “social facilitation” effect on human behavior is true. During these days of being in quarantine, our creativity and productivity has reduced, making us wish for things to things to go back to normal as early as possible to end this uncertainty about future. Regarding vegetative functions, our body has started exhibiting stress reactions resulting in hypersomnia, decreased appetite and change in eating and bowel habits. We also got a chance to understand the individual differences that exist in stress appraisal and stress reactions.Eventhough everyone is facing the same stressor-corona- the reaction towards it was different. Some showed denial (nothing will happen), while a few were in anxious phobic mood(we are all going to die, this is end of the world, god is punishing us).

The loneliness arising as a result of quarantine has raised in us the need for affiliation, creating an increased desire to socialize and attend gatherings. Along with this comes uncertainty about the future which is like a fog of breath on a windowpane as nothing is certain at this point and the future seems bleak as noone is sure about whether they are susceptible to develop the disease or regarding when our lives are going to go back to normal as there are high chances for poverty to occur as a result of layoffs due to economic decelaration.Emptiness in the streets has started to engulf human psych too and it proliferates like a virus within ourself.Many are showing signs of depression(20%),manifested through sadness, crying spells,suicide ideation,attempts,feeling of hopelessness etc.The anxiety in population has increased to such an extent, specially Post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD),and are unable to come out of home to meet their very essential life demands.
The media, especially social media is to a large extent responsible for this anxiety, as what consumes your mind controls your life and it is projecting onto us all sorts of threats regarding the virus 24×7 thereby tampering with our mental health creating hyper vigilance somatoform illnesses, ruminations and negative emotions like fear sadness and anger. Although many are making use of escapism as a defense mechanism to deal with these maladaptive emotions, another way to deal with them constructively apart from active coping strategy is through humour which is commonly made us of in social media as we have reached a point where people have started to troll just anything related to the virus. Those who were in denial including prominent figures holding power in our society such as Boris Johnson, Donald trump etc who initially pretended like everything is under control have broken down in front of the media, regretting their earlier stand to later take active measures to prevent contagion. On other hand, a few right since the beginning have shown altruistic tendencies(I am ready to die for my country as a martyr to save the world) which is especially applicable to health care sector and the low enforcement personnel.

Materialistic possessions like branded stuff has lost its value due to, as now, it have no utility. But our craving for possession of mese commodities has increased, due to fear of impending shortage of mese commodities .Even during the crisis of death and life, our self-centered nature is forcing us hoard essentials without any concern for the basic needs of our fellow beings, despite being aware that everybody is going through the same predicament. States have prevented transport of even essential commodities. some states(eg.Karnataka) have closed their roads to enter Kerala with sand piles, this leads to chaos in neighboring boarder districts in kerala,as it prevents them from having access to nearby health service in Mangalore.

Another concern which is bothering the people worldwide is the change in attitude towards foreigners, from a welcoming one to something that is full of hatred and is filled with prejudice and stereotypes. This is especially more towards the Chinese as the virus originated in Wuhan, as a result of which many of them had to face violence, personal attacks and discrimination rather than isolation. Some people lost their wisdom to differentiate between discrimination from corona isolation.

Despite all these, most of us have developed the insight that nothing stands in front of nature’s fury as it is capable of leaving us helpless, vulnerable and clueless. Unseen nature is powerful than that have seen, like unconscious mind to conscious mind..From this, we have realized that all of us have to stick together as one to eradicate the virus from mother earth so as to prevent the extinction of mankind and ensure survival of the human species. We have also come to a consensus that we as humanity is dependent on the nature. From the massive decline in pollution seen as a consequence of quarantine, we have realized that technology owes ecology an apology, as once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.

Though, now the sky is pitch dark without stars or the moon.. Let’s hope that the dawn will come, filled with new hopes
Thanks to Radika Manoj and jayasree (My psychology students)

lessons from the *corona

The novel human corona virus that is now named severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (formerly called HCoV-19) emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and has now turned out to be pandemic which is causing threat to the whole of human species. This virus has been spreading throughout China for at least 2 months, has been exported to at least 36 other countries, and has been seeding more than two secondary cases for every primary case. The World Health Organization has declared the epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern which implies that if

 public health efforts cannot control viral spread, we will soon be witnessing the birth of a fatal global pandemic.

The Greek myth of Pandora’s box (actually a  jar) comes to mind: the gods had given Pandora a locked jar she was never to open. Driven by human weaknesses, she nevertheless opened it, releasing the world’s misfortunes and plagues.

Of course, scientists tell us that SARS-CoV-2 did not escape from a jar: RNA sequences closely resemble those of viruses that silently circulate in bats, and epidemiologic information implicates a bat-origin virus infecting unidentified animal species sold in China’s live-animal markets. We have recently seen many such emerging zoonosis, including the 2003 bat-corona virus–derived SARS (an earlier severe acute respiratory syndrome, caused by a closely related coronavirus), which came terrifyingly close to causing a deadly global pandemic that was prevented only by swift global public health actions and luck.  Now, 17 years later, we stand at a similar precipice. How did we get to this point, and what happens next?

Preventing and controlling future pandemic occurrences remains a global priority.

Swift public health actions to prevent an emergence from becoming a pandemic, including isolation of patients and contacts to prevent secondary spread is necessary. But will these actions be adequate? Most experts agree that such measures could not have prevented the 1918 influenza pandemic. In fact, in the past century we have never been able to completely prevent influenza spread at the community level, even with vaccination and antiviral drugs. The problem is that most influenza cases are either asymptomatic, subsymptomatic, undiagnosed, or transmitted before the onset of symptoms.

What we need to understand from this global crisis is the fact that we as humans, due to our materialistic greed has ended up being the virus to the nature for which Covid-19 has turned out to become a nature’s torpedo. Activities like deforestation, pollution, mining etc which has become a threat to biodiversity has activated RNA’s such as Covid-19 which were since a long time lying dormant in mother earth. These on entering our body has created a disastrous contagion without discriminating the rich from the poor. Also, the rise in consumption of just any form of meat even bats and worms,  without imposing any kind of a ceiling to limit overexploitation,  highlights a possibility that this disease might be zoonotic in nature.

In short, Karma has a its own surprising way of getting back.

Another fact which needs to be brought to attention is the initial recklessness which was seen  worldwide while dealing with the crisis.

On getting to know about the emergence of the virus in China, instead of isolating it from other countries and keeping China in  quarantine by shutting down all the international airports when first case detected- which could potentially have prevented an outbreak, the authorities responsible for controlling the pandemic including India welcomed immigrants all over the world.But it could be due to inexperience.

Can we do better with SARS-CoV-2, a virus with a presumably longer incubation period and serial generation time, but with an as-yet-undetermined ratio of inapparent cases to apparent cases and an unknown rate of asymptomatic spread? The answer to this question is critical, because without the ability to prevent such spread, we will cross a threshold where pandemic prevention becomes impossible. And we won’t know that we have arrived there until it is too late.

With luck, public health control measures may be able to put the demons back in the jar. If they do not, we face a daunting challenge equal to or perhaps greater than that posed by the influenza pandemic of a century ago.

Covid 1 had very little sustainability in the outisde environment while the Covid 2 turned out to be more deadly creating higher susceptibility for infectivity though it’s lethality was less severe.

In the years to come, we can’t neglect the possibility for the re-emerge of other variants of Corona, with a higher levels of infectiousness and lethality than seen in its past two counterparts. It can even be used as an effective bioweapon which is a speculation that has been raised even with regard to the current Covid attack. As the late Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg famously lamented about emerging infectious diseases, “It’s our wits versus their genes.” Right now, their genes are outwitting us by adapting to infectivity in humans and to sometimes silent spread, without — so far — revealing all their secrets. But we are catching up.

And all these lessons learnt from the current episode of the the virus can be used to prepare us better to tackle the next wave of viruses infecting the country.”

Thanks to Radika Manoj for her unconditional support


mental health day
Human mind is mysterious; none could define the nuances of it, though spiritual gurus and psychologists tried to delve deeper into the ways of mind. The Mind still remains as an unsolved puzzle, except that we know mind is related to our brain and has the potential to control our life through thoughts. Buddha said that ‘We are what we think’ and Vivekananda’s words that ‘Human mind has unlimited potential’ pointers to the power of mind over body.
Sigmund Fraud tried to analyse mind in depth, according to him one third of our mind is conscious and the rest is unconscious. Today is world mental health day and the topic is ‘Youth and mental health in the changing world.’ As adolescent’s mental health issue is one of the pressing problems of contemporary society, It is very important to understand the evolution of our personality with regard to this subject. According to famous Psychiatrist Eric Bern, personality of a human being will be shaped within the first five years of life.But another Psychologist Eric Erickson says human mind goes through different stages in its social life and our Identity will be evolved in teenage years. At this stage, we try to know ourselves, society and our role in it, it really points out the pressures teenagers goes through in society and some might even resort to drugs and other sedatives in order to reduce mental pressures and anxiety.
There is a misconception that we inherit mental disorder from our ancestors, but actually our surroundings and the society that we live in have a huge impact on our mental health. Mental health issues are reported mostly in countries having gone through wars, natural disasters etc. As teenage years are of confusion and inconsistency, suicidal tendency is common among them.Erickson defines it as a period of “Psycho social Moratorium” . At this period a person is neither a child nor an adult, this may cause identity crisis and the role in the society leading to subject herself-himself to various experiments might lead to drug abuses or such substance abuses. In most cases, mental health issues begin during teenage years, but often parents fail to figure it out.
The notorious Cadel Jeenson Raja murder case is a classic example of teenage mental disorder where, the visibly calm and polite young man brutally had killed his parents and sister apparently without any reasons. He had shown symptoms of mental disorders during his teenage period but his parents couldn’t realize that. He used to indulge in Astral Projection since his teenage years and according to news reports, he did this heinous crime to bring his dear ones closer in the Astral world. He used to sleep in day time and stay awake at night spending time either on computers or in Astral World. But his educated parents seemed to have completely ignorant of his strange behaviours. So it is very important for parents to notice and get psychological aid if their teenage children exhibit strange behaviours as stay aloof from society, extreme anger, always keeping sad, Insomnia, Spending too much time on computers and Mobiles, Getting home late spending lot of time with friends etc. Depression is the major cause of suicide among teenagers today. Lack of interest in anything, always moody and tired,suicidal tendency etc are the apparent symptoms of Depression. And it is reported to be the main cause of death in the age group of 15-23.

Suicide of youngsters are on the rise in Kerala, the highest literary state, the common reasons reported are educational pressure,failure of Love affairs and other relationship issues. Studies show that Mental resilience is on a decreasing level in today’s youth, it could be compared with the strength of broiler chicken with that of desi chicken. These social worries hold a mirror towards the parenting of modern era. Over pampering and over protectiveness or complete lack of care etc are common among modern parents. Avail everything that child demands, compensate absence of physical care and love with gifts and money, comparing and judging children according to their talents etc are common errors of modern parents and in stark contrast, it could be complete carelessness or physical punishment and mental abuses for some other children.With the over involved, over protective helicopter parents, it gets harder for some children to establish their identity . And such type of parenting would reduce the self confidence in children and would badly affect their personality. Teachers too have their role in shaping up the personality of children.Children of alcoholic parents too may develop mental issues due to negative family environment.
Following guidelines may help prevent increasing mental health issues in our society. Parents must take precautions to avoid mental traumas in children. They should develop a friendly relation and should be approachable to the children, too much punishment would only attract negative result. Children should be allowed to play with friends. Children should be trained in doing their chores by themselves and must grant certain amount of autonomy.
Parents and teachers and society as a whole need to be made aware of mental health issues. Children having trouble in studies must be taught with special psychological care and with modern technological means. Parents should not put pressure on children to take forward the dream that they couldn’t fulfill. Every child is born with special talents and parents and teachers have to find out their potential and encourage the children to flourish in that. Parents must be aware of the friends of their children. Parents, Teachers and children must be given psychological awareness lessons through psychoeducation. Mental health needs to be integrated into school and university curriculum. And psychological screening of children must be implemented at government level in schools and homes.
Courtesy: Seena Joseph

The Mysterious Grandma

“We are spiritual beings. We realize that we are divine beings in a journey of life that has no real beginning and no end” Carl Gustov Yung”

Our Sages have interpreted Life as Maya(illusion), and authors like Shakespeare has termed Life as a Drama with not much significance except its sound and fury, Philosophers like Aristotle was of the view that life is about happiness, yet there is no simple answer to life, the quest for the meaning of life has produced philosophers,literature and art through out history.

Many times in my professional life I doubted whether life a mystery or an illusion. Abstract things are beyond our grasp and I had my share of confusions and doubts about soul,spirit and God. As a psychiatrist having scientific background, I chose to walk on the scientific path but certain experience in my life has enlightened me to go beyond our physical existence

The mental hospital in Peroorkada, Trivandrum where I am working now seems to have an aura of mystery. Since the beginning of my posting there, I feel like I have been lost in an unusual world pregnant with mystery. The center that was known as lunatic asylum in yester years, stretches 36 acres was built by Travancore King around 150 years ago for social outcastes and those who are mentally unstable. But this lunatic asylum was the abode of hardened criminals as well.

150 years back, this mental asylum resembled to a jail with its dark isolated and lonely cells thirsting to have a ray of hope. The marginalized and unfortunate beings in the society having no face,no identity or no relatives had find refuge  inside the four walls of this center till the end of their life. The big pond inside the campus was believed to be the abode of bad spirits, so that none  dared to venture near to the pond. The reason being told is that the criminals waiting for death  and patients having incurable mental illness were thrown into that pond alive. There is an old fort inside the campus which was built for a mentally unstable royal family member. The fort resembles an haunted house and the beautiful sculptures, wooden carvings and other precious materials in the fort were rumoured to have been  stolen by the public.

The poisonous snakes with its unusual shape and colours, inside the lush green forest of the campus remind the age of the same.Lightning attack is common inside the campus due to the high amount of  iron content  in the soil, many researches were conducted regarding it. Such unique features extend a mysterious taste to the campus.

Shiva temple beside the campus is as old as the mental asylum; the prayers from the temple lend a spiritual aura to the campus. We do conduct topic presentation on each Friday at the DNB library near the temple.On that particular day in …it was decided that Dr. Bindu would present the topic. As the chief consultant, I was assigned to chair the presentation. While I was referring ‘Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry’ on Thursday around 12 am in my study, as I had to chair the presentation next day, a voice inside me interrupted my reading with a whisper, ‘You do not need to read this.’ I was an ardent believer of God during that period, so that I asked God, Why I was not able to read, yet somehow continued with my reading. Suddenly the face of Dr. Bindu appeared in my mind and I though she might be  preparing the topic at night. But surprisingly a whispering voice of an old lady interrupted this thought.’ I want to tell you an important matter and if not today, I am afraid that I may not be able to express this ever.’The voice told me. It was as if I have been pampered by a special kind of feathery spiritual touch, It was equally scary and blissful experience. I couldn’t ask anything except comprehensing with my soul that the voice was of an old lady.

Unlike physical character that can be identified with senses, character of mind and soul cannot be identified with any concrete method. Only an evolved state of spiritual awareness would enable one to identify the matters of spiritual realm. That is beyond any logic or reason, but a complete subjective experience. Science is based on evidence, and I struggle with the unprovable aspects of spiritual matters at times.These sort of spiritual experience might have been mocked at as hallucination or lunacy, many including myself are reserved and skeptical about that. Let me come back to my experience: The old lady asked me whether I would marry her grand daughter. I was struggling with my troubled marriage life, which I find irreparable, thus I used to pray to God to connect me with my soul mate. Now this old lady was asking me in a trembling voice whether I could marry her grand daughter Dr. Bindu who is my colleague. I was literally surprised as I hardly ever thought of this way, and I hardly knew  Dr. Bindu. I pinched myself to ascertain  whether I was conscious or not. I washed my face and legs to get out from this dreamy state of mind, in case if I was dreaming, yet that spiritual realm had not left me, it remained there with the same intensity.That voice asked me again, “Tell me whether you would marry Dr. Bindu?’ I closed my eyes and pondered over my marital status. How  a married man could marry again?’ Even though I knew Dr. Bindu, she was not my close friend. As a person who had opted for an arranged marriage with someone whom I hardly knew, I often doubted whether love could be created through a contract in which both the parties adhere to love each other forever.And  my experience in married life taught me that love cannot be created artificially. Whether the contract would break if  one finds another person whom she/he can love completely and communicate beautifully? The question of Dr. Bindu’s grand mother was repeated. ‘Sure,I will marry her.’ I responded as if from the depth of my soul. Then that spiritual realm has left me. I have been slipped into sleep while thinking of this astonishing yet unusual experience.

After referring the said topic for sometime, I had headed to hospital in the morning. To my utter shock, I came to know that topic presentation was cancelled due to the demise of Dr. Bindu’s grandmother yesterday night. Normally, I prefer not to go to pay homage to the dead as I can feel the dead person’s spirit there. And often that feelings haunt me. But I felt an unusual urge to go to Dr. Bindu’s grand mother, thus I went to her place with a colleague; there were people sitting around with sorrowful eyes and heavy heart beside the grand mother who robed in a white dress was lying on a mat with a radiant smile. I had been transported to the same spiritual realm as that of yesterday; it was like I have been enveloped with a millions of  soft feathers, for a moment I was lost in that feathery touch, it was an uplifting and ecstatic feeling which I cannot explain in words. ‘I am happy that you have come to see me Son,’ grand mother murmured to me with a sweet hug. I looked at Dr. Bindu; she burst into tears when our eyes met. I was surprised and saddened to see the sight of a strong- willed women crying in front of me, I couldn’t hold back my tears then. Can I share my experience of yesterday night to Dr. Bindu? Whether she would understand even if I share this particular experience?

These questions remained unanswered in my mind while stepping out from Dr. Bindu’s home.I do not know about the destiny or do not have any power to understand future. But this experience has been haunting me since then. And If it is a real spiritual experience, it is destined to be a reality without us doing anything particular towards it. I thought with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

(Written by Dr.Nelson.and courtesy to Miss Seena  Joseph)


The masochist

Image result for painting masochist

(The ancient Greek god Pan was a half man, half goat being. He stood on two beefy hairy legs, had a human torso, a human face, and had the twisted horns)

have your heart ever burdened?



burden of a heart in love

have you ever tasted…



then what is your love?

it is a burden that makes the heart heavy

real love must be pure joy?

I don’t know

for me,it is a burden that weakens

then why you can’t give it up?

it is  funny ……

never want to get rid of it.

love is a mystery,in fact…

my own self is a mystery,

and I love the pleasures in the mystery

the sweet pain of love,like the snow flakes

falling on my soft heart.

Am I masochist?

Diary of a Psychiatrist-The Mystery

*Palaniyappan was a timid and lean man of average height. His family in Tamil Nadu survives on his daily wage as a mason. He had been suffering from a trembling attack since 14 years, due to this his family’s financial situation worsened steadily, they often run out of money even to feed themselves as Palaniyappan was incapable of even to hold his working tools. After consulting many doctors and experimenting different medicines in his home state, he with his wife have approached our mental health hospital in Trivandrum as per the suggestion of a doctor from TN in order to be relieved from this emotionally and financially deprived existence. I was referring some books at DNB library when I got a call from Dr. Jayaprakash of outpatient to intimate about this weird illness of Palaniyappan.

It could be a disorder called Tic disorder, still, Dr. Jayaprakash was doubting it of a dissociative symptom of mind, so that he had urged my advice. I could diagnose certain features not related to Tic disorder on examining the patient. I had suggested the patient to get admitted into the hospital for a further check-up, to which they agreed. He has been admitted to BICU(Behaviour Intensive care Unit). The beautiful BICU having modern facilities had built in memory of a psychiatrist who was passed away while on duty, and offers continuous monitoring service. Upon examining the history of the patient, one thing dawned on me that this particular disease had its origin after the death of his daughter 14 years ago. His daughter was died 14 years ago due to a sudden fever. Here I would like to enlighten readers with certain psychological nuances of human mind Though an offshoot of the concrete brain, our mind is strange and abstract in nature. The mind that we perceive and consists only one-third of our mind can be termed as conscious mind, rest two-thirds of our mind is unconscious mind, so these aspects of our mind are worth mentioning here. Many things from our conscious mind filter to our unconscious mind, which is beyond space and time. Besides the events filter from conscious mind to unconscious mind is like a collage painting having no connection with each other in its content. So that there won’t be any logical connection for the matters of the unconscious mind. In a nutshell, the unconscious mind is an abstract field neither limited by time nor space. Our dreams(dream analysis) during sleep is one way to understand the unconscious mind. It is possible to appear at different places simultaneously in our dream, while relishing a coffee with a friend in India, we can go for shopping in the US, and we would hardly question the logic of this acts. So it is relevant to know that time and space are the features of the conscious mind, the unconscious mind is beyond the limitations of time and space. This information is vital to analyse the conscious and unconscious minds to understand the connection with Palaniyappan’s trembling attack with the death of his daughter if there is any. I decided to hypnotise the patient as to delve deeper into the cause of the disease. A slightly dark and silent room was chosen for this.He was subjected to hypnotic relaxation for many days, but nothing relevant has been revealed except certain family related issues. Still I continued with the hypnotic relaxation session.

One day I noticed a visible change in the patient during hypnotic relaxation.To my horror, a very humble and soft-spoken person has been transformed into a man having a rough voice, and with a voice as hard as that of a coconut shell scratching on a rock he told me “I have been in his body since 14 years and my food is his blood. Has God given you special powers to oust me from his body?” I was literally taken aback and terrified by those roaring words. Many patients were subjected to hypnotic relaxation and were revealed many things, but this sort of horrific experience was first in my professional life. He has asked one pertinent question, whether I have been bestowed with any special power from God. I do not know, I was shocked and confused to the core. If God willed, let me save this patient, I felt like a helpless child in a flash of second. When all the doors would close, some doors might open, or there might be light at the end of the tunnel.Many thoughts sailed into my mind. Though born as a Christian, I am not a strict follower of organized religion, but my strong belief in Jesus Christ strengthened me. “Leave him in the name of Jesus Christ”, I uttered those words as if I have been armed with certain celestial power though in reality I do not have any such powers. But surprisingly the Ghost appears to have left Palaniyappan’s body as he has been dozed off for a few seconds. He awoke to find his trembling attack that he has been suffering since 14 years has disappeared. We were equally astonished and extremely happy.It was nothing short of a miracle and Palaniyappan was jumping up and down in ecstacy . I have rejoiced so much though I am still confused about the whole episode.. Was it the power of the Jesus Christ or the effect of my hypnotic suggestion that cured Palaniyappan? I was pondering over this question at a great length. Though the question remains unanswered, as a psychiatrist, I prefer to believe in the later.

*Name has changed to protect the identity of the patient.

Written in Malayalam by Dr. Nelson Kattikat

Translated by Seena Joseph

the bottled poetry

Come with me,
when you want to have fun,
I kept it, hidden….
the finest wine,

Sip it with your soft lips
as if it never ends….
I kept it,hidden in a deep cellar,
just for you.

we, the right blend,
to fill our souls in love,
the finest wine,
the one we drink together.

you cant go away,
pretending so inflexible,
trust me,…relax baby,
I can make you….dance!
You can dance.
(painting courtesy-Mukul Maiti,India).