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One psychiatrist for 4,000 prisoners!

PSYCHOLOGICAL counselling is one sure-shot way of reformation and rehabilitation, particularly if the subject relates to intra-family crimes. Yet, at the Parappana Agrahara Central Prisons, there is only one psychiatrist for over 4,000 prisoners!

The lone prison psychiatrist, Dr Rajani is convinced about the power of counselling. Sixty per cent of the prisoners, she informs, have either undergone change or are willing to change. “The objective of counselling is to give insight into what went wrong and how not to repeat it further,” she explains. 

In close touch with the prisoners, Dr Rajani can speak with authority about the reasons that drive people to commit crimes within the family. Citing prisoners, she reels a long list of factors: Incompatibility, marital discord, perceived suspicion of an extra-marital affair and sudden impulse.  

She has seen people, who had committed accidental or impulsive murder, were inconsolable and exhibited remorse. But those who had planned the murder showed less grief. “People who have planned the murder go through a denial phase. They are more concerned with how to get bail and escape from the situation,” she explains. Yet, she feels, there could be another side to their stories, which need to be probed.    

A woman and son were in prison after they accidentally pushed the husband so hard that he died of head injury. Apparently, the husband used to come home drunk and would beat them.  There were also incidents where husbands were arrested for abetment of murder after their wives committed suicide.

Crime is a complex issue, especially so when the victim is someone close to or related to the person who commits it. Murders within the family were limited to property issues and honour killing, but lately the reason has changed with the changing dynamics in the society. 

Today, young married couples are  insecure in their relationships, courtesy the stress and earning power of both partners. It is not just insecurity but the absence of trust and the incompatibility, which is slowly straining relationships.

Dr B N Gangadhar, psychiatrist and medical superintendent at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science (NIMHANS) blames disharmony in the relationship and 
lack of family bonding for a person taking a step as extreme as murder.  

He explains: “A person may already be suffering from some mental disorder and due to incompatible relationship; his/her delusions may increase in terms of insecurity.  The symptoms of the disorder may trigger when malicious thoughts along with subsequent situations in the relationship helps the person to take the final step.”

Counselling helps. But it doesn’t necessarily be from a doctor. Anyone with good intentions can help the person overcome his / her behaviour, says 
Dr. Gangadhar.

(Published in Deccan Herald; along with Poornima Nataraj)

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