‘Accept and resolve the past’ 28 April 2024.


Q. My father is 75 years of age and had a fall some months ago. He was operated successfully and had recovered very well. The physiotherapist made him walk and made him exercise daily. He was feeling better and happy. But something strange was happening. He was daily waiting for the physiotherapist to come and help him. He would not do any exercise or walking by himself. He would not follow the instructions given and keep waiting. He had a good relation with the young therapist. After some months we wanted to stop the therapist so that father gets independent but he refuses to do so. He wants the therapist to come and do things for him. The family is beginning to notice something wrong with this. He is getting dependent and fusses a lot. He gets irritated if you tell him anything. Is this a psychological problem? Do we counsel him and bring him to you? Are we wrong in our thinking? Please guide us.

Ans. There is something known as ‘secondary gain’. This is a state of mind which a ‘patient’ can develop after a serious illness and during the rehabilitation process when a number of care-givers are attending to him. He gets used to the attention which he begins to love and becomes reluctant to get out of it and get on with life. His dependency grows on the caregivers and he sinks further into a state of mind of helplessness. Yes, he would be helped with a few sessions of counseling and cognitive re-structuring which means a change in his thinking patterns. As family members, encourage him to do things on his own step by step and increase his confidence and independence. Avoid doing everything for him and talk to him encouragingly. Bring him for counseling if nothing works.


Q. I recently realized that I was a victim of sexual abuse in childhood. We had a session in our school some time ago, on the topic and when they told us about it I started crying. I did not want to share in the class so I said I am not well and want to go home. I left the class and called my mother to take me home. Now I am very worried and depressed. All these years I had forgotten it and did not know about it. I never thought about it and never talked to anyone about it. My mother is going on asking me the reason and I am not replying. I don’t know what to do about and how to feel about it. I feel worried and sad most times and a little lost in myself. I don’t like studies the way I used to and don’t talk to my friends. Please help me. I cannot come without telling my mother and she will not allow it. Please reply to me soon.

Ans. Yes, an awareness of an event can be emotionally upsetting. Till you were not aware of it in a definitive manner, you could not interpret it and give it a meaning. After the session you were able to define the past event and give it a meaning. Awareness of self and events is a good thing to happen but it does not mean you should crumble under the weight of the awareness. Awareness gives us insight as it throws light on an issue to give it a value. You are the same and your past is the same. You are not any more damaged than you are presently. Do not allow it to disturb your present or your functioning in any way. This new knowledge should make your wiser and more alert to such issues and nothing more. You will be safer and will be able to protect yourself in future from such advances by others. Be strong, be safe and be confident in yourself.  

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