Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Pathology of not knowing your own mind

I work as a psychotherapist. Over the years I have observed patterns of behaviour in my clients & their families and see the same patterns reflected among the 'non-clinical' population such as my own friends, families, relatives.
I am writing the current piece about one such behaviour. To me this behaviour is definitely 'not healthy'. I would like to label it pathological as I find it so disturbing.
 I have not tried to search for this behaviour in the  psychology journals or books. I am  noting my observations and my own theories about this behaviour.
For the time being, let me call this behaviour as 'not knowing your own mind'. Hopefully, I will think of a better term some time soon.
First let me give samples of behaviour, which come under this label.
1) A is a young lady, suffering from  psychosis & OCD. She is on medication. She has dropped out of university, staying with parents, has no fixed routine in her life. Her parents are upper-middleclass and finance is not an issue. 
'Not knowing her own mind' behaviour of A: A does not answer the simplest question in a straight-forward manner. When asked what she would like to eat, she does not make a choice. She will say, 'my dad wants me to eat this as it's healthy' or 'my mum wants me to eat this as she wants me to lose weight'. When asked what movie she would like to see or what she would like to buy, she simply cannot tell what she wants. She always prefaces her choices by stating what someone else wants her to do. I have tried to give her plenty of time and repeatedly told her, 'Don't choose what you think your mum wants; dont choose what your dad wants; choose what you want, Take your time'. Yet she simply does not say what she wants. After interacting with her for years, I now have this gut feeling that she has reached a stage where she really does not know what she wants. She has no idea what she likes to eat, to wear, to see, to read. It is such a tragedy to be in this state. Not getting what is you want is one sad state many of us face...lack of money or lack of time or lack of accessibility and so not getting what we want. But this poor lady's tragedy is worse...she doesn't even know what she wants.

2)I have seen a few parents of psychiatrically ill off-spring who are unable to make any independent decision. They seem to have forgotten or seem to not know the simplest things. They ask for directions for the most simple decisions. It's like they have lost their self-confidence completely and need to be guided by someone else. Some parents have simply stopped relying on their own common-sense; have stopped thinking and problem solving independently for the simplest decisions and ask for suggestions or guidance from others. It's like they were born without instincts when it comes to doing things by instinct. 

 The causes of 'not knowing your own mind' according to me:
In the case of the first lady, I have observed that her parents rush to give her instructions, suggestions, 'tell her what to do' despite her being of average to above average intelligence and despite her being an adult now. They do not give her even a second! For example, someone comes home. The very moment, they have stepped in, the parents tell her, "Say hello''. I can give multiple examples of such behaviours of the parents. I believe that this constant barrage is instructions and suggestions has rendered this young lady, completely passive. She must have sort of switched off her brain and her thinking and simply waits for the instructions and does what she's told. I have tried to explain this to the parents and tell them to back off from giving her instructions.But jumping in to instruct her seems to be so deeply ingrained in the parents' behaviour that they seem unable to refrain. 
Secondly, one of the parents is always second-guessing what she likes and doing those things she likes or buying those things. She never seems to ask her daughter directly, 'what do you want? What do you like?' Whether this is because her daughter does not give a direct answer when asked or because this mother has this annoyingly firm belief that she knows her daughter's mind very well and needn't ask her...I am not sure. It must be both these reasons and maybe other reasons too.
Thirdly, I believe the lady in question, for some reason, wants to do what she thinks her parents want her to do. She has a lot of anger against her parents for many reasons. Some of her anger is a part of her illness. But I also believe that anyone who lived with parents who behaved like her parents do, would be much angrier than her. Her parents are loving and caring. But their interaction skills with her are terrible. Whether their interaction with her deteriorated after the onset of her illness or whether their interaction with her was 'not good' from before her illness, I do not know.


on sale DANDELION LEAVES ! At Food Basics Jan 19th 2018

Weeds in my backyard...but food on someone's table!

For the first time I saw Dandelion being sold in a grocery store (Food Basics). I have read online that it is used to make tea, it had medicinal value, etc but never seen it being sold until now.

Friday, January 19, 2018


I wonder  if checking Google (or any other search engine on the internet) frequently is normal or pathological. 

I suppose pathological-or-normal is determined by often one checks Google before doing something, 2. the reasons why one checks Google, 3.whether one checks Google for very simple things which one should know and be doing without Google verification.

Reasons why I and a lot of people check Google: 
The main reason  for checking on Google-accessibility: I am in front of a computer with internet connection and great speed at least 8- 12 hours a day! It's as simple as that.  If I  did not have such easy access to Google, I would be doing things independently, without checking "the best way of doing it" on Google, 'where is the best place to buy this product' 'best way to make this thing', etc. 
People now have phones and can check even when they are on the go. And NOW, with Siri, they can Google-check, even when they are bathing!

I also think that modern man, wants to do things 'perfectly' and for that he needs to 'research' and for that the best tool is 'Google'. 

I do believe that making an effort to do things perfectly is good. But I also believe that this dependence on Google is leading to loss of many good skills in us. I will outline these losses below. But please remember, I have NOT DONE RESEARCH and this is simply, my thoughts. 
1) Loss of self-confidence: I mean this in a very narrow sense of the phrase. I don't mean people lose self-confidence because they  Google search before doing something. What I mean is that people who were relying on what is inside their head to do something now don't seem to trust that what is inside their head is enough to start their task. They want to check on Google first. What they know is not enough to do the job. 
2)Loss of spontaneity: Again I do not mean people's personality changes and they loose spontaneity. I mean that the first step to do something is not the first step of planning or organizing or doing. The first step is checking how others are doing it and finding the best way to do it...on Google. 
3.)Some of us feel we are not good enough when we see the amazing things others have put on the internet; it may lead some of us to stop doing things. Some of us make the mistake of thinking that others are doing such a great job. Why should I even bother to do it. It's not going to be good anyway. Giving up doing because 'so many others are way better than me' is one sad effect of doing Google searches when we undertake to do something.
4)I believe that having information at our fingertips is great. It's useful in so many ways. But this dependency on Google, also leads to some concerns. I believe that I don't even try to remember anything now as I know I can get it from Google. This vast storage system is possibly affecting our memories. Secondly, people would discuss and debate and enjoy it in coffeeshops and so on. Now, any disagreement leads to whipping out our phones and searching on Google to find out who's right. This immediate checking and finding out who's right is taking away so much of the pleasures of the debate! Thirdly, all the information available to us has lead to vast stores of information floating around in our heads without really making us happier or wiser. I will admit search on Google has opened so many doors to so much new worlds to me and I am immensely grateful for that. I may even be quite a bit wiser and happier with all this information. But this has come at a price. A price I am somewhat unwilling to pay. The mystery is missing when I am pre-armed with knowledge from Google when I try something new such as visit a new place. In the past, when it was difficult to get something, the joy was so much sweeter when you got it. Now, you can find literally ANYTHING on Google or amazon or ebay or whatever. The thrill of the chase is gone. Now I feel like those rich kids who can afford anything and so everything is boring for them. I am now cherishing the pleasures I had in the past of finding things when accessibility was poor. 
I am NOT complaining about accessibility. I am so glad there is accessibility for the information deprived masses in countries like India. In fact I wish ewvery 'poor' person in India had functional knowledge of English, functional literacy and access to internet, google, etc. This would help them come out of poverty as knowledge is power. 
5) I don't know how to measure this or analyze this but I believe that access to this huge amount of information on internet  both helps creativity/innovation and also has negative effects. What I mean by negative effects is :
a) One cannot escape the influence of ideas from the world around us and people around us. This world has become infinitely bigger with the internet access. One artist friend of mine sometimes avoids attending exhibitions of others art works as she is worried about their influence, either conscious or unconscious, on her works. 
b) I cannot be sure if the idea I generated was 'mine and mine only' or influenced by what I saw and heard and read on the internet. Of course, there were influences even before the internet but the extent was miniscule compared to the amount of stimulation on the internet. It's difficult to be original now as it's difficult to escape influences today even if we lock ourselves indoors as the world is within our home through the internet. 

I spoke of the not-so-positive effect of the internet on memory and creativity. Now lets talk briefly about it's impact on attention. I feel that people who are already 'easily-distractible' can become even more easily distracted when surfing on the internet as they move from one topic to another which captures their attention/interest. I am not saying that internet worsens the attention of an ADHD person. But I do say that it does not help them much either by offering so much of stimulation. 

Why do we google? I google mostly for information or pleasure. I google for dog and cat videos, jokes, news, pictures of so many things,, etc. The hours people spend on surfing is the hours taken away from physical exercises, spending time with family, friends, children, etc; time taken away from tasks to be completed.  

Surfing is giving us new information, knowledge and opens new doors to us. To the extent that we pause to process the new information and ruminate on it, we are getting some depth. But if we quickly scan, absorb and move on to new information, we are in danger of having shallow information about a whole lot of things.  People who surf the internet rapidly, stop thinking and processing information but just file it away in their memories. They may not spend time to understand the information in it's depth, check it's veracity, see if they can improve upon it and so on. 

One major lacuna of surfing is that the information is theory. People may know but most do not accquire the practical skills of achieving what they know in theory. Let me give an example. My husband, for the last few weeks has been sitting in bed watching Utube videos of 'northmen'. These are videos of woodcutting, welding, making knives, etc. But, I am laughing as I write this, he has not touched a single axe or chopped a piece of wood or welded or whatever. yet, he can talk quite well about it, thanks to watching them! But, to me, "What is the point?" 
To be continued

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I had to travel a long distance on the public transport system(TTC i.e. Toronto Transit Commission) today. I hopped off at the wrong stop(Kingston and Eglinton instead of Kingston and Highland Creek overpass) and I did not have a transfer(a ticket) to get back on another bus without paying again.
I considered walking the rest of the way, despite the cold. When I asked a kind passerby for directions, she told me  it was too far to walk and I should take a bus. 
I walked back to the bus-stop. I got on the next bus and  explained to the driver that I had got off  the bus at the wrong stop and that I did not have a transfer. Luckily, the driver let me on the bus and did not ask me to pay again! I am so grateful to him and I hope he has a really blessed life!
The next bit of good luck today : 
 I got off  at my stop...the right one this time. Feeling the cold wind, I searched for my gloves and found only one. I realized that I had lost the other one somewhere on the way and felt a bit sad. It was an expensive leather pair. I continued toward my destination and  after a two hour long meeting, I walked back to the bus-stand. On a hunch, I decided to check out the stop I had got off, in case I find my glove. And I did! It was lying on the  pavement exactly where I had got off!   I felt so thrilled to see it lying there un-trodden on by  feet, un-blown by the wind, un-taken by anyone!

These two pieces of good luck today has made me a happier and less grumpy person today! 
 I always liked and respected the TTC staff and now I appreciate their kindness even more. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pakistani lorry-toy

This reminds me of the toy-autos sold in Bangalore, the school-buses, double-deckers sold in many cities and village fairs in the world. Though it's so kitschy, I love it!
The above will not survive a child playing with it for 2 minutes but it can sit on a window shelf and wait to be joined by an Indian auto or an Asian Tuk-tuk!

I did not get the toy autorickshaw in India as it looked soo.. kitschy...what made me fall in love with this thing...?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mini Colored Corn

Took a friend from India to  Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake last Sunday(sept 18th 2016) . Bought 3 bunches (of 3 per bunch) lovely looking Mini Coloured Corn from a ?grocery store in Niagara on the Lake. Here are a few arrangements I made of them.
There are also a few photos of normal sized coloured corn. I have not seen coloured corn in India. I saw them for the first time in Canada.
Often people don't eat the coloured corn but hang tham in the kitchen or dining area around Thanksgiving time as Harvest decorations. Som families in Canada hang coloured corn, plaited garlic, chillis, etc in the kitchen and dining area all year round as decorations. 

 Above is normal size corn...NOT mini corn

 This photo above and below is normal size corn hanging as decor in a shop

Friday, January 5, 2018

Old Town San Diego

A tourist spot  and  of great historic importance, Old Town San Diego, is located  in the centre of San Diego, California. 
You could happily spend 3-6 hours here. There's a lot of artsy stuff from Mexico in shops here. Also lots of crafts and decorative items. Lots of restaurants.  There is an old west feel to it when you see some of the things on display, the fort, the old buildings and the many museums. There is definitely  a Mexican feel too.  
You could eat. You could shop for crafts from Mexico. Browse. Enjoy the weather! Or take photos like me.

Below are some paintings with rustic charm  I saw in some shop

 I think the above is the photo of a single jail cell...but I am not sure. I have forgotton. But this too is there in Old town San Diego.
 Above is a sample of decorative tiles made in Mexico



The variety and beauty of the cactus, flowers and plants in San Diego and maybe all of California is simply amazing! The weather is wonderful all year round. The plants, trees are wonderful. People were friendly and relaxed atmosphere in this entire place. I think this is as close to heaven as it could get! My sister said that the houses were not expensive to buy like in the Bay area of California. So dear reader, if you have money, and can get a job in this place, you should check this place out.