Life

A Different World

I have had a pretty sheltered life growing up. I’ll be the first to admit that. Grew up in a pretty decent home. A relatively normal family. Had a pretty good upbringing. I’ve been lucky. And sheltered.

But my job has opened my eyes to a lot more than just what the media presents. Why do I say this? Well, in my Book Club, I’m the youngest member and the other three individuals are in their thirties and forties. We have read books like The Slap or Jasper Jones, all of which have some unhappy themes or things we don’t always encounter in day to day life. Some of the members have found these themes confronting or even unimaginable. And then, I want to read the book Room. However, none of the members want to read it because of the confronting themes involving a child. And I think that’s the main thing even with the other books. When there’s something negative happening to children, because they all have kids and live a sheltered life (which I have had too!) they find it a bit too much to handle. Even if it is fiction.

I, on the other hand, am able to distance myself.

Because I hear these things first hand.

Things most people normally see on the telly, I tend to view much closer to home (so to speak). I have had kids and teenagers tell me about physical abuse. About domestic violence. About sexual abuse. Most of these have been horrific stories. But I have been able to listen to these. And not cry. Or cringe. I have somehow been able to distance myself and not get emotionally involved. I understand it’s a shame and it’s horrible and unfair. But I can listen to it and provide them with strategies to cope instead (for those who want it I mean).

I guess due to my profession, I have learnt how to distance myself from horror stories. I am in a completely different world from where I grew up. Years ago, I led such a sheltered life I didn’t even know things like sexual abuse happened to young children. And from people known to them. Even when I was doing my bachelors, I wasn’t sure how I would cope as a psychologist given I was such a sensitive person. I was (and still sometimes am) able to cry at the drop of a hat. So what changed? I guess I just became more professional.

I wonder though — is it a good thing?

I mean, it’s good that I can distance myself when I am with my clients (After all, they don’t want to see their psychologist freak out!). But I find that when I watch news on the telly on such matters or read novels about such issues, I have the same feeling. The distance. The barrier. It sickens me but not to the extent it seems to sicken or scare or disgust other people not in this profession. Have I just become cold? And unable to feel?

I don’t necessarily need an answer. But just thought I’d put it out there. Most of my friends here are psychologists and in the same boat as me. And it took Book Club members who are in completely different professions like architecture, finance or media to make me realise just how different the world I reside in is. Some people could go through their entire lives without being touched or faced by issues such as these. And I have heard so much in three years and given that it’s a profession I intend to continue in, I am sure there’s more to come.

I guess it’s no wonder I’m as cynical as I am.

Until next time,

Cheers!!! 

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No Comments

  • Reply
    BlueMist
    November 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Well, I don’t know. It is your profession so at least you have a reason but many times I read / meet through people going through horror stories and I feel have those moments of feeling bad but I move on. I don’t know if it makes me cynical or cold. I think it is my nature to find solutions to cope with the situation ( and be practical abt it) than feel it to heart.

    I reach out and do all the possible things to help but in my heart I distance myself and may be the thought that “someone has to stay strong” makes myself that tougher one. Does that make any sense ?

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    November 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I had a sheltered childhood too…but for some reason, I tend to prefer books with these themes. I somehow can empathize more with these stories (even if they are only fictional), dunno why.

  • Reply
    Reema
    November 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I think its necessary to distance myself to have a perspective and in impartial view and most importantly to remain unaffected n be able to treat them.

  • Reply
    Scribbler
    November 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I loved the change of colour and the signature 🙂

    Hope mum is doing better now ? 🙂

    Since it’s not compulsory to answer your question here in the post…I’m leaving it at that…may be will come back to write something ?…I’ve mixed views right now!

  • Reply
    moviesandsongs365
    November 30, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I think people need to feel they are being taken seriously when they are in a vulnerable conversation with a psychologist. Being professional is a good thing. Maybe there are different levels of professionalism , where sometimes the situation calls for a laugh? Anyway, you know more about this than I do obviously, it’s your job!

    By the way, ever seen the movie K-pax. Might be of interest considering your line of work. Vanilla sky is another “patient” movie that sometimes gets overlooked.

  • Reply
    Shalet Jimmy
    November 30, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Could you imagine I come from a country where poverty and wealth cohabits; where a 2 year girl was raped and I really do not how many such incidents. Gang rape has become the order of the day. We keralites (a state in India) have to confront such horrible news every day in the news papers. I normally avoid reading newspaper in the morning. One of our celebrity from film field was caught on a charge of raping a 13 year old girl. When he was asked he said arrogantly that he never look for a girl’s birth certificate before he does something like this.The irony is India is the largest democracy in the world.

  • Reply
    Susan Deborah
    November 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Well, I believe that you are a careful blend of emotion and distancing yourself from your clients. I often wonder how psychologists cope with so many things and this post has enabled me to get an idea.

    I am leaving with mixed feelings, though. Got to ponder.

    Joy always,
    Susan

  • Reply
    jake
    November 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Strange sometimes I find myself asking my conscience the same questions.

    I remember reading about parents killing their children on the news after moving to the U.K (just an example, not that it does not happen anywhere else) and it would just completely freak me out and I would spend hours trying to figure out why any parent would kill their child.

    Now, I usually go ‘oh great another nut case, hope he rots in hell’ and let it go. But its a long departure from the days when it would ruin my entire day.

    Here’s my rationale, (just what my logical mind tells me, might not be true). The human mind adapts to a new environment just like how our body adapts itself to a new diet.

    I don’t think you lose the empathetic side of your personality because of it, its just that you are used to it.

  • Reply
    writerzblock
    December 1, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Very disturbing to see such incidents, PB, like you said, especially involving children. But I guess you have to distance yourself, given your role!! Its like being a surgeon. You empathise with the patient’s pain, but you cut open, operate and finish the task. That , I think, is what the patient would expect too!!! No?

  • Reply
    Aditya
    December 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Guess thats true. My friend also did masters in psychology but after working at a hospital for 2 months, she quit her job and started teaching. reason-too depressing. Guess you love your job and have the passion to go through which is not the same for others. Good going 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

    @ BlueMist: Hmm…so you can do it too…I guess it does make sense in terms of someone has to stay strong. It wouldn’t do for all of us to get upset or ‘traumatised’…

    @ Titaxy: Oh yeah, I definitely love books with these themes…I can empathise but don’t find myself getting affected by it. I don’t get overwhelmed by it or anything.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 4, 2010 at 3:13 am

    @ Reema: I agree…but I guess does something like that end up making us a bit too distant? I wonder…

    @ Scribbler: Thanks! I thought it was time for a change for the blog 🙂 And yes, mum is recovering…thanks for asking. Take your time to give your views on the post… 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 4, 2010 at 3:17 am

    @ moviesandsongs365: OH I’ve definitely had my moments of jokes with clients at appropriate times, especially since they are kids and teens. But yeah, I remain very calm even when hearing the most horrific things imaginable. I think I have seen K-pax. Kevin Spacey, right? And Jeff Bridges? Been a while though…

    @ Shalet Jimmy: Definitely seen that…and yes, in India, it’s still one of the countries where a woman is blamed for the rape. No matter what her age. Don’t even get me started on that…one of my soap box issues! I wonder whether things like this have also made me so cynical…And I cannot believe someone would even joke about the birth certificate comment! It’s messed up!!!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 4, 2010 at 3:35 am

    @ Susan: That’s a nice thing to say! 🙂 All psychologists are supposed to have supervision from another psychologist so if issues do affect them emotionally, that’s a place to talk about it. Having said that, so far, I haven’t had anything affect me so much.

    @ jake: Ah…I wonder these things too…how can a parent physically abuse their child? How can a parent emotionally abuse their own flesh and blood? How can a parent sexually abuse a child of their own? And I have no answers. Apart from the fact that they have to be f***ed up. But yeah…I think you are right that our mind just adapts. Especially when we are bombarded with something left, right and centre.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

    @ writerzblock: I like the surgeon analogy! And yes I think you are right. I remember a client once telling me something horrible and saying how they preferred me to another counsellor they had seen because the other counsellor reacted with “OH my gods” and other such surprised and shocked reactions which is not what the teenager wanted to hear.

    @ Aditya: Oh wow…she quit? I have a friend that has also given up but more so because she thinks knowing about psychology is affecting her own life. I do love my job despite all the shit that comes with it… 🙂

  • Reply
    moviesandsongs365
    December 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Yep, K-Pax is the one with Kevin Spacey. Another film that is probably even more suitable is “Ordinary People” (1980), heck it’s about a teenager who goes to a psychologist. You can find it on youtube( just write the title + part 1)

    By the way, my no spoilers review is up for the coming-of-age novel I mentioned earlier “A separate peace”, should you be interested. At the end, I also compare it to a few similar books. Feel free to visit my blog any time ( :

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler™
    December 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

    @ BlueMist: Hmm…so you can do it too…I guess it does make sense in terms of someone has to stay strong. It wouldn’t do for all of us to get upset or ‘traumatised’…

    @ Titaxy: Oh yeah, I definitely love books with these themes…I can empathise but don’t find myself getting affected by it. I don’t get overwhelmed by it or anything.

  • Reply
    moviesandsongs365
    December 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Yep, K-Pax is the one with Kevin Spacey. Another film that is probably even more suitable is “Ordinary People” (1980), heck it’s about a teenager who goes to a psychologist. You can find it on youtube( just write the title + part 1)

    By the way, my no spoilers review is up for the coming-of-age novel I mentioned earlier “A separate peace”, should you be interested. At the end, I also compare it to a few similar books. Feel free to visit my blog any time ( :

  • Reply
    Reema
    December 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I think its necessary to distance myself to have a perspective and in impartial view and most importantly to remain unaffected n be able to treat them.

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