When you work in a mental health sector, you come face-to-face with some of the ugliest truths about the society. Not only do you get to deal first hand with the people afflicted by these but you also confront the pervasive nature of these insidious problems and how badly these are embedded in our collective mindset. As for the mental health of the society that we breathe in, lack of knowledge and awareness continues to be the core issue, the origin of all other problems.
From a very early age, we are conditioned to interdict novelty and through imitation, we learn to be dismissive towards any idea or belief that is shunned and denounced by the culture. Consequently, the orthodoxy and convention remain entrenched in our society where acquiring knowledge that is too “explicit” is tabooed. In such a society, individuals don’t thrive; they are molded into dummies, sculpted into obedience and conformity.
This adamancy on the part of our culture is driven by an intense urge to repudiate logic and facts into its existing schema which have prompted a generation of uninformed victims and perpetrators.
Some 8 months ago, I was assigned a 20-year-old client with severe psychosis during my placement (as a trainee). She was a newly married girl who was apparently adapting very well to the new family until she began to experience her episodes. Without second guessing, her in-laws and husband proclaimed her to be possessed and sent her back to her parents who did everything they could to get the couple to reconcile. They implored her in-laws and their son in law to take her back each time she was shunned due to her episodes.
Her trigger could not be identified even after 8 consecutive sessions of informal assessment. I was disappointed in myself because her psychosis kept getting worse each time she was ostracized by her in-laws. My supervisor decided to take over the case gauging the severity of the symptoms. But to her surprise, the environment, genes, nothing seemed to be evoking her psychosis. Finally, one of the senior sex therapists assumed control of the case. It wasn’t until the third session that she was able to identify the underlying cause of her psychosis. The patient was always reluctant to give her sexual history. Every time she was inquired about her sex life after marriage, she managed to implicitly indicate that there was nothing wrong with it.
The therapist reported that the client was sexually abused by her husband. Not only was she a victim of marital rape but was also subjected to anal sex multiple times that left her traumatized. But what worsened her psychosis was,
her inability to talk of the pain and torment that she had been going through and vain attempts to desensitize herself to the pain.
The therapist insisted on the necessity of couple therapy and tried to communicate this to her husband who blamed it on his wife and accused her of adultery out of wedlock. Within 5 months of therapy, the patient was able to rebound from the episodes due to immense support extended by her family and decided to file for divorce. She then enrolled herself in a two-year degree program and is now continuing her education. She reports that her psychosis is better and is now able to snap out of it through a little help.
This is just one out of the many cases of people being victimized at the hands of perpetrators due to lack of awareness and curtailment of freedom of thought and expression out of the fear inculcated regarding taboo subjects.
Sex education must be mandatory at all levels, varying according to the needs of the target audience. We are promoting a culture of ignorance and oppression by silencing the voices that are raised to educate the masses. It is the 21st century and there are more pressing issues than deciding whether or not a subject is too bold to be discussed or talked about.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.Martin Luther King