Thursday, 15 October 2015

pune mirror interview-dr rohan

DR ROHAN JAHAGIRDAR
City-based psychiatrist

Beheading someone is not easy to actually accomplish. It might be simple to imagine, but it is not possible for any average person to do this. An act requiring such physical strength is triggered either by very strong emotion or mental instability. The man in this incident needs detailed psychological profiling, but from what can be seen in very basic information about the case, there definitely seems to be mental instability at work. He clearly had anger management issues — I think he had a lot of other undiagnosed issues as well. From what limited information we have, it sounds like paranoid schizophrenia, a characteristic of which is the unshakable delusion of one's partner's instabilities, irrespective of age or sex. The fact that he allegedly suspected his wife of having an affair with their son-in-law sounds quite bizarre, disregarding more plausible options. It definitely sounds like paranoia.

Paranoid schizophrenia is an illness, not an episode. It is caused by dopamine imbalance in the brain, manifesting in the form of suspicion, aggression, neglecting or selfharm, hearing voices and — in certain cases — delusion. It is not age-specific, but is usually seen between the ages of 16 and 25 in males and 25 and 35 in females.

If a person is found to be mentally unstable to this degree, I am quite sure he would have been suffering for a very long time. These things take time to fester and grow. Maybe, he imagined voices telling him about the alleged affair. And, over time, it led him to believe everything as proof of it. I am pretty sure he would have voiced his suspicions to someone, but was either ignored or the situation was mishandled. That he went on to chop off his wife's head and limbs and then went to a police station also points to the fact that he is possibly mentally unstable. Any other person would try to hide his or her crime.

Also, it must be noted that nearly 90 per cent of violence — in any form — is committed under the influence of substance abuse. We still don't know the details in this case.

Violence is very common in psychiatry. I handled a case once, in which the husband thought his wife's face had been replaced by a ghost's and wanted to cut just her face off. The woman survived, but with some 50-52 stitches. That man was schizophrenic.

Beheadings have a socio-religious history in our country. Sometimes, it's for an honour killing, sometimes, to send a message and, at other times, a punishment. But, at an individual level, the expression of violence is becoming stronger and more brutal globally. Emphasis should be laid on adequate venting and timely diagnosis.

(As told to Suktara Ghosh)

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