ghostly illness “OOPRI KASAR / HAWA”]
[PSYCHIATRY] MIPS, MAPA, AIASP, MIAPP, MCSEPI
is precisely a reason why I had written this article. As a
Psychiatrist, I had understood and felt the pain and difficulty the
schizophrenic and his family has to bear during the phase of illness
and I am sure nobody would like to see ones near and dears suffer
the way a schizophrenic does. By writing this article I had made an
attempt to avoid, the misery that the illness may bring to you. I
felt it is my duty to narrate about this disease and it is
essential for everyone to know about it.
schizophrenia is treatable/controllable [as there are quite
effective medications available nowadays; ] I hope your loved one to
be part of the society as anybody else. Some people are lucky to get
back to the normal stream of life. Many others are not
share some of the important information about this illness.
Psychiatrist I can relate well to this illness and I shall try to
explain about it. I shall be able to share only the basic and most
desirable information that will make you and everyone aware about
this dreaded illness and will enable you to help a schizophrenic
patient around you. It is not possible to note all of the symptoms
and tell everything about this illness as it’s symptoms have got a
vast variations and it is beyond the scope and purpose of this
article. Therefore I shall be narrating some of the most commonly
found types and symptoms.
WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder. Our doctors have known it for
almost 2000 years.
incidence of schizophrenia is1% world over i.e. every one of the 100th
person is suffering from schizophrenia, so today, there are100
lakh sufferers in our country.
THE SAD PART OF THE STORY
presentation of the illness is such that at the first instance the
relatives of the patient feel that it is due to some “oopri kasar/hawa”
and the first step is they take the patient to some faith healers (BaBa
to get the so called ghost off the patient .It is not that the
family members are to be blamed for this ,the reason is the lack of
knowledge and the deep rooted false beliefs prevalent in our
society. What ever which appears fearful., strange appearing and
cant be understood and explained rationally by most of people
carries the tag that its due to some black magic effect [tuna],
or entry of a ghost or alike beliefs.
only that after wasting a lot of precious time and money they manage
to reach doctor ,but still not the Psychiatrist. Till then the
illness has progressed and patient is in bad shape and had turned
highly suspicious or uncooperative.
It is a
complex disease to explain and make our readers understand it. I
have made an attempt to explain it in a very lucid language and not
using much of technical words. Actually schizophrenics have a
problem of fantasy overlapping with reality. All the symptoms of
schizophrenia are difficult to mention here, but I shall narrate
some of the important symptoms.
one of the commonest symptoms seen in patients suffering from
schizophrenia. During an attack of illness, one may hear voices or
see people /ghosts/images/dead men /relatives /or even God, when
they are actually not present there. These are called
hallucinations. These are commonly of two types, hearing and
seeing i.e. of hearing of voices or seeing of images
HEARING OF VOICES
The voices are from some where outside ie from people in other city,
of dead people, or even voices of people around him [when they are
not talking], or even from other world /"aliens”. Patient actually
hears that they are passing comments on him.
can be wide variation in the type of voices the patient hears. Some
may hear very positive voices, praising for deeds the patient is
doing. Or the voices can abuse the patient, saying bad names to him.
They can be of commanding nature, thus forcing the patient to do
certain types of jobs which he does not want to do like he may hurt
others, commit suicide, may go out of the house, may not take food
for days as the voices stop him from doing so. Or they can be in the
form of an unnecessary conversation going on between some unknown
people and it is audible to the patient. Voices can be in the form
of a running commentary on patient, s behavior in which the voices
go on commenting what ever the patient is doing. These voices may
range from absolute clarity to just an irritating noise.
asking the patient gives some explanation as where the voices are
coming from, sometimes he is unable to give some reply.
the patient has just started hearing voices, he had varied reactions
like he may get fearful as where they r coming from, who is
producing the voices, who is commanding him he gets terribly
disturbed. In some cases he may even enjoy the voices. In long
standing cases they become part of patients life and he learns to
live with them and does not show excessive reactions as in the
The images seen by schizophrenics are clear, as real and colorful as
The schizophrenics believe that the images are real, part of his
life or are affecting his life. He acts and behaves according to the
images he sees. Like he may go on talking to them, he may get
fearful, he may run away of fear, he may cry or laugh loudly. To
others it appears that he is doing without any reason and thus can
come to know that he has gone mad.
A schizophrenic fully believes in his images, as according to him
they are real. The images can be in the form of normal people
roaming around him, can be of the people who are dead, can be people
of his village/city, can be his relatives, can be ghosts, God
The person thus goes on talking and behaving in context
to the voices he hears and the images he sees. The interpretation
that the people around him will make is according to their education
and experience. An educated person may know that he has gone insane
and is to be taken to a Psychiatrist but a man in a village may take
it as the person is under the effect of some ghost and may take him
to a Baba Ji /A Dera /to a Tantrik or any similar kind of person. In
Some cases it takes many months or even years for such people to
reach the proper place and doctor for the treatment. Till then the
illness had worsened and the person had reached an advanced stage of
(B). DELUSIONS [FALSE BUT FIXED AND FIRM BELIEFS]
the second important feature of Schizophrenia
is a fixed, false and unshakable belief and the person cannot be
convinced even with the most rational explanations. i.e. the person
start believing strongly in some context and the belief is so strong
that it is impossible to convince him out of it. The thing in which
he believes is of course totally wrong/absurd and baseless. It
cannot be proven in any way and is actually not true.
person may start feeling that there are some people /police/CID, or
people from outer world are after him and are going to kill him. So
he may find it difficult to walk alone on the streets. He will try
to hide, run here and there to save his life, will get fearful. He
can try to commit suicide to get rid of this unsolvable problem and
which no other person understands and which he cannot share with
may start suspecting his own family members that they have join
hands to kill him. They are trying to poison him, in his food. So he
stops taking food or water from other people or start preparing his
own food. He may also beat ones family members of the belief that
they want to kill him.
may suspect his /her spouse that one is not faithful to him/her. So
he/she may file a divorce against him/her, can abuse or beat the
spouse. One may think that the spouse has physical relations with
his/her brother /sister, or mother or father. Or one may think about
any of the family members that he /she wants to have sexual
relations with him/her.
will say that other people can now read his thoughts and what ever
he thinks everybody comes to know about it. He may say that his
thoughts are being broadcasted in air, on radio or television.
delusions can be related to ones body like he may believe that there
are worms in his head or throat, and they are biting him and he
actually feels the pain and not sleeps for whole night due to pain.
He may believe that the brain has rotten or the intestines had
shrunken etc etc..
schizophrenic believes that other people sitting around him talk
about him make fun of him, abuse him in their own ways. What ever
happening around him has got special meaning, what ever gestures
other people around him make, have got a special meaning and the
patient start giving his own interpretations to these instances. The
list can be very long and it differs according to thought of the
patient, but these interpretations can be something like this [it is
not necessary that below given examples occur commonly, these are
only for the sake of examples]:
some person sitting in front of the patient moves his spectacles,
patient feels that in this way he is calling bad name to him/abusing
somebody is offering him a biscuit, it means he is calling him
homosexual as the biscuit is long and like a penis.
may say that all the community is against him and they are
continuously watching him wherever he goes.
says that whenever he thinks something bad, the cars passing by him
blow horns and stop him from thinking like this.
may stop watching television or radio and say that these programs
/news are on him they are talking about him, spreading rumors about
He believes that if any one is talking about
taxi/hole /well or any such word, it means he is abusing his wife.
OTHER SYMPTOMS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA ARE :
patient shows no emotions on his face while talking or according to
the circumstances. The face is dull without emotions most of the
may weep or smile /laugh very loudly when alone or may remain
talking to oneself in his mouth in very slow voice which can not be
heard by others, and he may go on making gestures with hands, or may
point in air as if talking to somebody.
may remain standing or sitting in one posture or in a strange and
difficult to maintain posture for a very long time.
manner of talking is strange sometimes as one may not come to know
what he is talking about as the talks are just a mixture of words
and does not carry any meaning.
may go totally silent for hours or days together and may not even
some of severe subtypes schizophrenia, patient does not remain aware
about even the basic necessities of life like:
may not demand for food for days together and will eat only on
asking that too after several times
may not show awareness towards the season, like he will not wear
anything in winters and will bath with cold water or will wear a
sweater and take a quilt and will remain standing in sun in the
may remain roaming here and therein streets with torn clothes,
without shoes, without food or water [means in a real bad state]
may pass stools and toilet at inappropriate places, or may not wash
hands after the toilet.
may play with garbage or can even eat it.
can leave the house without telling any body and can remain out for
hours to months and years
these feelings lead the person to withdraw from the family, work and
the society. He is now no more a part of the society. He started
remaining in his own world.
After reading this article one can well understand a schizophrenic
and his way of thinking and can do something for them. One
thing is very important that a schizophrenic himself or herself does
not believe that something is wrong with him or her. As I had
already told that according to the patient everything they feel [see
or hear] is absolutely true and real!
IT CAN BE DEVASTATING FOR THE FAMILY AND THE PATIENT!
important to identify and manage schizophrenia as early as possible.
From the above given symptoms, One can now well understand the kind
of effect a schizophrenic can have on his family.
If not done, it can harm the family members very badly in all the
ways emotionally, financially, socially and physically, even more
than the patient because=
patient while he is ill cannot decide that what ever he is doing is
wrong, that he should not behave in this way. After one becomes
normal, then only one realizes that whatever he has done was wrong
and he had not treated his family and friends properly when he was
is always suspicious of all his friends.
did not do even the basic activities at home.
ones own, he is not interested in taking a bath or changing clothes.
MYTHS ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA
the common belief, one does not have split personalities.
a schizophrenic does not necessarily mean, always a schizophrenic.
is not caused by bad parenting, trauma, abuse, or personal weakness.
schizophrenics get back to the normal life. Very few require
constant hospital care.
the common belief, marriage is not a solution for schizophrenia.
to Mandirs, Darghas, Churches alone will not help, they give a moral
support to your mind. A Psychiatrist is the best person person to go
EARLY DISCOVERY AND MANAGEMENT IS THE KEY
It is very important to start treatment at the early stages of the
In addition to this regular intake of medicine is
very important, which will keep you safe from falling into the
dreaded disease again
of the patients start consuming alcohol, which can only make
problems worse. Early management can prevent this
of patients can commit suicide or can hurt others due to their
deranged thought process. This can and should be prevented with
patient can continue to enjoy a normal family life with their near
and dear ones, if treatment is started early. The disruption in the
family is reduced with early diagnosis and help.
IDENTIFY THE EARLY SIGNALS
have mentioned above identifying the signals early leads to early
help and better results.
identify these signals now with the help of this article. The
patient alone can also visit the doctor on his own whenever he sees
and can identify these signals. Signals such as:
Getting increasingly suspicious
over-anxious about people talking about me
Feeling uncomfortable while interacting with others
Having bizarre ideas
Patients and families can help each other by identifying these and
FAMILIES AND FRIENDS NEED TO HELP
Schizophrenia in one of your near and dear ones can have a profound
effect on your life. It is better to share it with others. You need
understanding, love and support from others. So, do not hide it from
others. Instead, try to understand and explain the nature of the
disease and the best thing is that it can be treated.
ONE CAUSES SCHIZOPHRENIA, LIKE NO ONE CAUSES DIABETES
YOUR ARE NOT ALONE WITH SUCH A DISEASE
YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME FOR THE DISEASE
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
need to know about the disorder, to be able to maximize the help
that you give to a schizophrenic.
many cases the patient does not agree to go the doctor and even
does not take the medicine, as he does not agrees that he is ill,
and what ever he is seeing or experiencing is truth.
such case the Psychiatrist ids the best person who can help. He is
swell equipped to deal with such type of problems and can suggest
you one or the other solution to deal with such type of patients.
the patient in taking him to a Psychiatrist and encourage him to
take the treatment.
with your loved one to make him stick to the medication. It is
sometimes very difficult in making the patient understand that
medicine is very necessary and he has to take it regularly and for a
long time. Sometimes the family has a hard time in making the
patient comply with the medicine. In such cases Psychiatrist is the
best person who can find a solution to this
a patient, the voice and images (hallucinations and delusions) are
real. The near and dear ones should not argue, or make fun, or
criticize the behavior. It can make the patient more withdrawn and
so he will not discuss the illness with you. Thus the illness can
should not act alarmed, do not panic, be calm and believe in your
an attack is over, you should, with the doctor, try to develop plans
to manage future episodes. Understand the first signals of warning
and the need to take the patient to the Psychiatrist.
The relief starts after only few days, of treatment, its does not
occurs on the same day. This should be explained to the family
members and the patient [if possible] this will decrease their worry
and increase their cooperation in treatment.
Do things with the patient rather than for him. This helps to
develop the patient’s social skills and helps him to get settled in
day-to-day life and thus increases his confidence.
to share with all of you that medical scientists, all over the world
are working hard continuously in order to provide better ways of
understanding and managing schizophrenia..
are new techniques and new medications under development. In the
past 3 years a lot of new drugs have become available in the Indian
market, which were not available before. These drugs are more
effective and have got fewer side effects .so that now the treatment
of schizophrenia is more acceptable as newer drugs have got less
side effects and had resulted in a better quality of life in
comparison to the older drugs
are likely to be much brighter in the coming months and year.
There is hope!