Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Indianization of Psychiatry Utilizing Indian Mental Concepts

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Indianization of Psychiatry Utilizing Indian Mental Concepts

Article excerpt

Byline: Ajit. Avasthi, Natasha. Kate, Sandeep. Grover

Most of the psychiatry practice in India is guided by the western concepts of mental health and illness, which have largely ignored the role of religion, family, eastern philosophy, and medicine in understanding and managing the psychiatric disorders. India comprises of diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religious affiliations. However, besides these diversities, there are certain commonalities, which include Hinduism as a religion which is spread across the country, the traditional family system, ancient Indian system of medicine and emphasis on use of traditional methods like Yoga and Meditation for controlling mind. This article discusses as to how mind and mental health are understood from the point of view of Hinduism, Indian traditions and Indian systems of medicine. Further, the article focuses on as to how these Indian concepts can be incorporated in the practice of contemporary psychiatry.

Introduction

Most of the psychiatry practice in India and around the world is guided by the western (American and European) concepts of mental health and illness. These concepts of psychiatry which have dominated the field in the last century or so have mostly been developed for individuals with an internal locus of control (as in the west) and have largely ignored the role of religion, family, eastern philosophy and medicine in understanding and managing the psychiatric disorders. It has also been increasingly recognized that there is a significant difference between the east and the west in the distribution, phenomenology, treatment seeking behavior, and prognosis of people with mental illness. Hence, now there is an increasing focus on the role of Eastern concepts in understanding and managing psychiatric disorders. In recent times, there has been a greater emphasis on person-centered approach, [sup][1] which emphasizes that treatment and care should be provided by health services by placing the sick person and their caregivers at the center of care. Practice of person-centered approach requires that the treating physician must have better understanding of the patient's socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs, etc., When one tries to incorporate these aspects of the patient in psychiatric care, the currently practiced western models more often than not come in conflict with the needs of the patients.

India has a vast population comprising of diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religious affiliations. Besides this, India has its traditional system of family. To a certain extent, the Indian families maintain until today, a great degree of cohesiveness and the members of the family show readiness to cooperate with one another on issues like taking care of sick relative, making career choice, marriage, etc., Given the differences between the Indian and western population, utilization of western psychiatric concepts for treatment of Indian patients is a largely myopic.

When somebody tries to understand what Indian traditions can offer to psychiatry or what is different in relation to Indian patients, one need to understand the traditional Indian systems and predominant religion in the country (Hinduism). These do shape the patient's reporting of the symptoms, reaction to stress and symptoms, help-seeking behavior, coping with distress, acceptance of suggested treatment, family's reaction and reaction of community in general. In this article, we first discuss how mind and mental health are understood from the point of view of Hinduism, Indian traditions and Indian systems of medicine. In the second half of the article, we discuss how some of these Indian concepts can be incorporated into the practice of contemporary psychiatry.

Hinduism and Mind

"Hinduism" is not the original name of Indian religion and those who followed the same since the ancient times never gave it any particular name except for "dharma," which simply means "the eternal law that supports and sustains those who practice it. …

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