CULTURAL PATHOLOGY THREE:
Another phenomenon I observed while working in the Indian hospital is the onset of psychosis in one set of students i.e. students taking the PUC ( PUC is Pre-University Certificate…it is the 11th & 12th grade equivalent)exams especially the science stream:
I worked for about 7 years in the psychiatry dept and came across more than 25-30 cases of 'first episode' psychosis/schizophrenia in youth aged about 17-18. The fact that it is a first episode psychosis is not unique. The age of onset is also not unique. What was unique was that all of these youth, were studying in the science stream (i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics as their main subjects) and were in the second year when they had their first episode of psychosis. This indicates to me that :
It is mostly the science stream who were stressed out enough to have a break down and not the arts or commerce students of PUC or other youth of the same age group.
It is only in the second year of PUC that the stress gets to them.
This indicates to me that many students taking the science stream are extremely stressed out and should not be stressing themselves out like this. They opt for science so as to study engineering, medicine, dental, and other professional courses after PUC
I am not talking of a cause-effect relationship between taking science and getting psychosis, but these are kids who got poor scores in school, have limited capacity to study tough subjects, yet opt for these subjects and then break down.
A major insane behaviour seen in south India and now I realize it is a behaviour seen in many east Asian countries as well……..is the insane need of parents to force kids to study science ; some parents believe this is the only way to ensure future economic and job success/security for their kids. It is not just the parents who insist their kids to study science; many kids too opt for science even if they lack the interest or aptitude for science for insane reasons like, ‘All my friends are taking science and I have to take it too’; or ‘others will think I am dumb if I do not take science’.
Truth be told, I have seen parents who did not want their child to take science in college as they knew it would be too tough for their child to handle but their child insisted on taking science as "all his friends were taking science". I have also seen children who did not want to take science but were coerced by parents who assumed that their child's future would be bleak if he took arts or some other stream.
I suppose variations of this behaviour is seen in children and parents all over the world. For example, I have a Canadian colleague who says that ‘every Canadian parent seems to think that his kid is the next NHL player’ and that lots of parents put immense pressure on their kids to do well in sports, irrespective of the child’s skills or aptitude.
Putting pressure on one's children, controlling many aspects of their life is one common feature in many eastern cultures. This makes children feel powerless and resentful. They end up doing many things against their wishes and finally if they meet with failure, the blame-game starts and no one is willing to take responsibility. Children blame parents for not being allowed to make their own choices and parents blame children for failing in spite of the sacrifices they made for them.
Lots of adults do not have choices in eastern cultures and have to do their parents bidding. Parents dictate what the adult child wears, what he/she chooses to study. Even the career and spouse may be chosen by parents! With little autonomy over their lives, it is natural for a variety of pathological behavioiurs to develop.