Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

The Development of Mental Hospitals in West Bengal: A Brief History and Changing Trends

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

The Development of Mental Hospitals in West Bengal: A Brief History and Changing Trends

Article excerpt

Byline: Ranjan. Bhattacharyya

The communication between G. S Bose and Sigmund Freud is a well-documented fact, and philosophical blend of rich cultural experiences is unique to modification of traditional psychoanalysis in the context of development of psychiatry in West Bengal. The Calcutta lunatic asylum was established at Bhowanipore, and first general hospital psychiatric unit was formed at R. G. Kar Medical College, Calcutta. Prof. Ajita Chakraborty was a pioneer to describe her struggling days in the early career and shared her views with experiences in her autobiography. The volume and quality of research work, especially in the field of epidemiology led by Dr. D. N. Nandi is worth mentioning. A jail had been converted to mental hospital which is the largest in terms of bed strength (n = 350) at Berhampore, Murshidabad district where Kazi Nazrul Islam and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had spent some period as prisoner during British rules. Bankura was the first district in West Bengal to start District Mental Health program. The various nongovernmental organizations are working together in public-private partnership model or indigenous ways in tandem over years for the betterment of mental health services both at institutional and community level.

Introduction

The development of modern psychiatry in West Bengal has a long journey with rich cultural experiences, but not very well documented. The written communication between Girindra Sekhar Bose and Sigmund Freud has been well documented and highlighted. G. S. Bose had modified the practice of Freudian psychoanalysis, with his own modification in Indian perspective, through his innovative approach embalming philosophical concepts of the Hindu sacred text Gita in the purview of Descartian 'mind-body dualism.'[1] His method of psychoanalysis was based on relief of psychic agony by virtue of resolution of two opposing forces or ambivalence. For example, 'to hit' and 'to be hit;' 'to love' and 'to be loved;' 'to surrender' (femininity) and 'to make surrender' (masculinity), etc., The patient's psyche can be reduced to the fight between two opposing ideas by the free association method or some other method by which resistance breaks down. G. S Bose showed with illustrative case studies that the patient's agony always reduced when he/she could tolerate the simultaneity of the oppositions. When the resistance breaks down the patient tends to be aware that his/her psyche harbors the opposing idea with respect to the initial idea that fastened him/her to the rigid position of producing psychiatric symptoms. Then, a see-saw mechanism ensues when the patient moves to and fro between two opposing ideas, being unable to accept both of them at a time. When the person becomes aware of one idea the opposite one becomes repressed. Finally, in the analytic procedure, a stage comes when the patient becomes aware of the two opposing ideas simultaneously. This unity of the opposing ideas brings the resolution of symptoms. The philosophical concepts such as perception (indriya), mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara), self (atman), joy (sukham), and sorrow (dukham) has been explained by him in his writings.[2]

In the proceedings of Calcutta Medical Board on April 3, 1787 the first mental hospital has been formed which marks the colonial influence on development of mental health services in India.[2] In Calcutta, the European Lunatic Asylum was established at Bhowanipore for European citizens, which was shutdown after the inauguration of European Hospital at Ranchi.[3],[4] Indian Psychoanalytic Society had been formed by Girindra Shekhar Bose in 1922 in Kolkata and Berkeley-Hill initiated Indian Association for Mental Hygiene during the same period.[5],[6] The first ever general hospital psychiatric unit (GHPU) had been formed at R. G. Kar Medical College, Calcutta, in 1933 by none other than G. S Bose.[7] In next 50 years, few other mental hospitals were added in Delhi, Jaipur, Kottayam, and in West Bengal. …

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