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