Not everyone’s celebrating love this Valentine’s Day. While falling in love with someone from a different community, caste or religion does not classify as a mental disorder, Delhi parents are dragging their adult children to psychiatrists for doing so.
“Mere bachche ka dimaag kharab hai. Use theek kar do,” (My child is not in his right mind. Please cure him) is a standard line that parents are using with psychiatrists. Some are also asking psychiatrists to “brainwash” or “hypnotise” their children so that they can fall out of love with the person of another community.
“The parents of a 20-year-old youth made him walk on hot coal to ‘cure’ him of his stubbornness as he had fallen in love with a girl from another caste. They even performed a ‘yagnya’ in an attempt to make him fall out of love. But when all things failed, they finally brought him to me,” said psychiatrist Dr Jitendra Nagpal.
On another occasion, Nagpal was horrified when a mother asked him to administer electric shocks to her daughter in a bid to alter her love choice. “Some believe that evil spirits are responsible for a young person’s falling in love outside the community, and therapy will help ‘shake’ the spirits out of the person,” he says.
Such instances are extremely common when a traditional society is attempting to negotiate globalization, says psychiatrist Dr Alok Sarin. “For mental health professionals, this poses a tricky situation as we need to help parents and children work around the situation without being judgmental,” he adds.
Psychiatrists attempt to initiate a dialogue between parents and children. Parents often drop out of therapy when they find psychiatrists not siding with them and, instead, helping them understand their children.
“We try and make parents understand that caste and religion do not matter when it comes to a relationship between two individuals,” said psychiatrist Dr Sandeep Vohra.