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May 08, 2018 Tuesday 12:57:38 PM IST

In spite of the fact that there are more and more laws being enacted to protect women and children, incidents of brutality towards women and children have only risen. This has raised untold fear in families, specially among women and children.


Clinical evidence points out that abnormal fear leading up to phobia and panic attacks disrupt the normal course of development of many children and young adults, resulting in academic backwardness, poor social outreach, low coping skills, low stress tolerance, lack of personal initiative, and lack of creativity.


In order to address the negative consequences of fear and its byproducts, a thorough understanding of the aetiology of the problems is a must. The following is the real story of a young girl who had to suffer terribly due to fear and other related problems.


Deepa is a 17-year-old student who has just completed her 12th grade exams. She hopes to secure good grades and is looking forward to pursuing college. Deepa’s parents are teachers and are very caring and always motivating. It was Deepa who took the initiative to meet a psychologist since she thought that she had reached a ‘breaking point’. She described her problems variously as crying spells, sadness, irritability, fear of exams, easily getting upset about little things, clinging to her mother, and so on.


Upon closer investigation and analysis, Deepa’s sorry state of affairs came to the fore. We came across a few significant emotional stressors in Deepa’s early life history:


a) Her mother testified that she was quite afraid to conceive a second child since the first one was seriously handicapped, disabled, and totally dependent. It was with serious and sustained medical consultations and assistance that the parents had painstakingly decided to have another baby.


b) During pregnancy, the mother was afraid of losing the baby or having another handicapped child.


c) Due to the crisis delivery through a Caesarean Section, the baby was separated from mother for 24 hours, and later on put on UV(ultraviolet light) treatment.


d) Both the parents had to leave the younger baby in order to rush the older one to hospital in fits and bouts. And there were many such unexpected outings.


e) At 9 months, the mother had to leave the breast-feeding baby to join back duty at a local school.


f) When Deepa turned 3, the mother had to leave the family home in the wake of a transfer to a distant place.


g) On weekends, when the mother returned home, she could not attend to the affectional needs of her baby owing to persistent migraine and other must-do household chores.


h) At age 6, when the little girl was forced to sleep in a separate bed, she was heart-broken.


Ever since her childhood, Deepa was engaged in an emotional tug of war with mother and father. At times she would slip into temper tantrums, unstoppable and inconsolable crying spells which ended up in her mother holding her in her arms. “Mom hold me close”, was her last resort, and Deepa would stay like a little baby clinging to her mom.


Rapprochement between mother and daughter became evident in the therapeutic strategy. The parents were made aware of the little girl’s traumas and travails and how they affect her present behaviour.


Deepa had to work on her unconscious and subconscious memories of unwanted feelings, affectional deficit, and loneliness. In order to achieve this memory healing, forty Brain Wave Modulation Therapies were administered. Deepa needs to attend follow-up therapy and ongoing counselling.


At present she is symptom free and looks ahead to a fruitful and productive life. There is an important lesson from this story, especially for parents who are forced to leave their babies in early stages of life.


Early parental separation makes for developmental deficits in children, especially at significant milestones, such as breast feeding, walking, talking, and schooling.


It is extremely important that parents realise this deficit and compensate in various ways, verbally, by affective behaviour, and by owning up to the separation and consequent loss to the child. It is ideal to work out on such early loss before the onset of puberty, preferably with the help of a professional counsellor.

Psy. Dr. Jose Cletus Plackal

Licensed clinical psychologist, BET-MRT, Jeevas Centre, Aluva, Kerala.

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