A fas­ci­nat­ing read

Bat­tling Ad­ver­sity en­ables the man in the street to grasp the is­sues sur­round­ing men­tal ill­ness.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - Star2@ thes­tar. com. my An­thony Thanasayan

A NEW book on men­tal ill­ness is gen­er­at­ing some ex­cite­ment among my friends in the dis­abil­ity cir­cle. And I have no doubt that its of­fer­ing of a wide va­ri­ety of top­ics cov­er­ing to­day’s con­tem­po­rary is­sues will pique even more read­ers when word gets round.

Bat­tling Ad­ver­sity – A Col­lec­tion Of Es­says On So­ci­ety And Men­tal Health is writ­ten by con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist Datuk Dr An­drew Mo­han­raj. Dr Mo­han­raj is also As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor at Per­dana Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Medicine in Serdang, Se­lan­gor.

What I like most about the book is its easy read­ing style which en­ables the man in the street to grasp the is­sues sur­round­ing men­tal ill­ness which may be com­pli­cated and hard to un­der­stand.

Last week, I met up with a friend whom I hadn’t been in touch with for a while. Ce­line ( not her real name), whom I have known for the past 20 years, made a shock­ing rev­e­la­tion to me. She was re­cently di­ag­nosed with de­pres­sion and is cur­rently on med­i­ca­tion. Ce­line said she had suf­fered symp­toms of de­pres­sion for many years, but did not re­alise she had a psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der un­til she read about it on the In­ter­net.

The topic of our con­ver­sa­tion nat­u­rally veered to­wards Dr Mo­han­raj’s book which she was cur­rently read­ing.

I told her that I found the book a fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of es­says on men­tal health and it was writ­ten in such an easy to read man­ner with­out con­fus­ing read­ers with com­pli­cated jar­gons.

I sud­denly re­alised there could be many who are suf­fer­ing in si­lence, not know­ing that they could have clin­i­cal de­pres­sion – a con­di­tion that goes be­yond mere sad­ness.

The book also touches on con­tem­po­rary is­sues such as pae­dophilia, elec­tronic cig­a­rettes, and the MH370 tragedy. There is even an eye- open­ing es­say on why men be­come gigo­los.

Com­puter game ad­dic­tion and the psy­cho­log­i­cal di­men­sions of asy­lum seek­ers are also ef­fec­tively ex­plored in this book which touches on the con­scious and sub­con­scious mind.

As Malaysia moves to­wards age­ing na­tion sta­tus, “Men­tal Health And Older Peo­ple” is a timely topic that read­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate in this book.

An­gelina Jolie’s name cropped up in the chap­ter on “Psy­cho­log­i­cal Aspects Of Mas­tec­tomy”. An­gelina is one of my favourite ac­tresses and she made head­lines when she opted for a pre­ven­ta­tive dou­ble mas­tec­tomy a few years ago.

How­ever, the topic which touched me the most was the one on “Liv­ing With Schizophre­nia”. It re­minded me of a child­hood friend whom I shall re­fer to as Steve.

Steve was what most of us would con­sider a “nor­mal” in­di­vid­ual un­til he reached adult­hood when he started to with­draw from fam­ily and friends. Later, he dis­played symp­toms of para­noia with ac­com­pa­ny­ing bizarre be­hav­iour, of­ten with vi­o­lent ten­den­cies.

No one knew he was trou­bled by the hal- lu­ci­na­tory voices he was hear­ing. I vividly re­call his re­peated ad­mis­sions to a men­tal hos­pi­tal near Ipoh, fol­low­ing his re­fusal to take med­i­ca­tion.

For all of us who knew him well, it was painful to watch Steve’s mother go­ing through the or­deal of deal­ing with her son’s ill­ness.

Now, years later, Dr Mo­han­raj’s book helped me to un­der­stand Steve’s strug­gle with men­tal ill­ness. He ze­roes in on one very im­por­tant as­pect: the men­tal well- be­ing of care­givers.

Bat­tling Ad­ver­sity gives hope to af­fected fam­i­lies by re­veal­ing the sup­port sys­tems that are avail­able to per­sons with chronic men­tal ill­nesses. This is im­por­tant in or­der to make life worth liv­ing for the in­di­vid­ual suf­ferer and their fam­i­lies.

“Risky Side Of Beauty” and “The Cost Of Stay­ing Slim” are two top­ics which make worth­while read­ing. They un­ravel the psy­cho­log­i­cal ba­sis for those seek­ing ac­cep­tance through beauty, de­spite the ob­vi­ous risks to their phys­i­cal health.

The book ends with the chap­ter, “Di­ary Of A Disas­ter Psy­chi­a­trist” in which the au­thor re­lates his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences in psy­choso­cial re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in post- tsunami Aceh. Dr Mo­han­raj high­lights the re­silience of a peo­ple who over­came all odds de­spite the dev­as­ta­tion of the tsunami.

The book is a di­verse and in­ter­est­ing col­lec­tion of es­says which is a must- read for any­one who has an in­ter­est in men­tal health and the work­ings of the sub­con­scious mind.

Bat­tling Ad­ver­sity is pub­lished by the Tun Suf­fian Foun­da­tion. Pro­ceeds from the sale of the book will go to the foun­da­tion’s schol­ar­ship fund. The book can be pur­chased from Paci­fica Pub­li­ca­tions.

E- mail: paci­f­i­ca­pub­li­ca­tions@gmail.com. Tel: 03- 7806 3151

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.