20 years of warfare in India’s Kashmir province seem to have taken a heavy psychological toll on the people residing there. The Times of India has a striking account, featuring one Paul Fadden, a British alternative therapist who does Reiki. Reiki is a technique for channeling energy through a laying on of hands. The article on this excursion bears the heading Where the mind is with fear.
During his stay in Kashmir, Fadden gave Reiki to mental health patients, 90 per cent of whom had lost a close relative. Several others had seen somebody die; many suffered from the “midnight-knock syndrome” — a fear stemming from unceasing pre-dawn raids by security forces. All of them had been — or still were — on high doses of medication for up to 15 years. “They were gentle people weighed down by the burden of their experiences, their lives torn apart by the conflict,” says Fadden.
The conflict began in 1989, and according to this article, 5 years later an observer would find a 300% jump in the number of patients seen at one hospital per day.
Insurgency wasn’t the only experience these people had to recover from; some of them were also paying a high emotional tab for the psychiatric treatment they had received as well.
Author-journalist Justine Hardy, who brought the therapists, says medication is part of the problem. “The response to the huge numbers (of patients) has been to medicate the problem, literally, with high tranquiliser, sedative, antipsychotic and anti-depressant drug doses.” The side effects, she says, have been as difficult to manage as the disorders. “An integrated approach is needed for these people to recover and find their way back to a quality of life, allowing society to begin to progress and heal.”
Did I ever say that psychiatric drugs have been known to impede, and even to completely stymie, the recovery process? Well, such is the case. If you don’t believe me, just look into the relationship between long term psychiatric treatment and negative outcomes sometime.
Fadden, too, recommends a holistic approach. “It is common in most forms of medicine to focus only on the patient,” he says. “To think that only the people being treated have been affected by the conflict is to grossly underestimate the effects on society as a whole. The project produced remarkable results. Within just the first two weeks, some of the patients were electing to come off medication. Six months later, these remarkable individuals hadn’t reverted.”
There is a very encouraging and positive lesson to be learned from this venture of sending alternative therapists into a country to relieve and back up over burdened and over worked psychiatrists. I hope somebody is picking up on it.