PROFILE  -  Dr. Krishna Prasad Sreedhar

 

Dr. Krishna Prasad Sreedhar (KPS) is an effective teacher, a renowned Clinical Psychologist and a highly communicative person.  He has developed a unique and very beautiful writing style both in English and in the vernacular (Malayalam) for counseling through letters. He published a book in vernacular. One may translate the title of the book as “Guidance by a Psychologist’. His warmth and concern for the clients are evident in this book.

 

KPS has a multifaceted personality and finds time to manage his different roles effectively. He is at once a Teacher, academician, writer, Clinical Psychologist and a householder.

 

THE SETTING

When I contacted Dr. Krishna Prasad Sreedhar through email for the interview, he had just returned from his Dubai trip. However, he replied to me agreeing for the interview. He gave me the appointment on 21st February, 2006 at 2 p.m.  The duration given was one and a half hours, which I felt as a very short time for an in depth interview which I have planned.  Nevertheless, I thought I would try.

 

THE TEAM

This time, Vinod Divakaran (VD), Ganesh Mahadevan(GM) a medical representative and medical transcriptionist, Satheesh Kumar (SKS) a close friend of mine who is very much interested in health related issues and Psychology constituted the team.  I communicated to each of the team members the criteria, the theme etc. of the interview and a short profile and behavior sketch of Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar so as to aid quick rapport and synchronization.  I wanted to have a woman also in the interview team but could not find one.  GM was assigned the role of an observer and a “value addition” role or rather an “extra player” role.  All others were given topics for the interview.  But, a week before the stipulated date, SKS phoned me to say that he was assigned an unavoidable duty by his superior and so cannot come for the interview.  Since he has had his own questions to ask, it was a problem if he didn’t come.  So I thought he might ask questions over the phone.  Then, two days before the interview, VD got a phone from a company at Bangalore asking him to attend an interview for one of his dream jobs.  So, he also had to quit the team.  Thus, in the last hours, I had to change the whole strategy.  GM who was given a rather passive role of an observer was put forward and given the active role of an interviewer.

 

Thus the actual interview team consisted of myself (Ajan Raghunathan AR), Ganesh Mahadevan (GM) and Satheesh Kumar (SKS).

VENUE

The residence of Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar is about 35 kms from our office.  We decided to go by bike and started at about 1230 hours and reached Pundit’s colony (literally, the colony of scholars.  I don’t know if all the dwellers in this colony are scholars are not.  But Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar surely is.) near Kawadiyar, Trivandrum at about 1345 hours, 15 minutes earlier than the appointment time.  The house name is kripa (Sanskrit/Malayalam kindness.  Surely the house might have radiated kindness to the clients who came to see him). We pushed open the blue colored gate and entered the very spacious front-yard (probably not as spacious as his mind!).  The compound is about half an acre with a two storied building at the center of the compound and a separate two-room clinic/consulting rooms. The clinic is not totally separated from the main building but an extension which was constructed in such a way that this is away from the noise and disturbances of the household life.  The building is connected to the main building at one end just like a fetus to the umbilical cord. This can be seen as a mark of how he kept his profession from not mixing with his family life although he is very fond of his profession – he seems to have given the desired share to both his family and his profession.  The earthen pavement that starts from the gate ends in front of the clinic.  The clinic is run in a two room building.  One room is waiting room for clients and those who have accompanied the client.  There are two benches placed opposite to each other in that room.  A lot of magazines were neatly arranged on the shelf and two or three were on the table.  The person with the client can engage himself/herself by reading one of these while the client is with KPS.  The second room is the consulting room with two doors from either side.   KPS enters and leaves through the rear door while the client does so through the front door which opens to the waiting room.

 

The tiled counseling room measured 18 x 20 meters and was very clean and tidy with a couch on the right of the entry door.  A portable audio deck to administer his award winning relaxation and stress management tool: the Guided Somato Psychic Relaxation (GSPR) is seen on the head side of the bed.    Almost at the centre of the room is a table with chairs on both sides. Behind his seat, a picture of lord Krishna and Arjuna as depicted in Bhagavad Gita was on the wall.  It is the picture of Arjuna kneeling before Lord Krishna pleading for guidance and counseling.  This we believe depicts the mental state of the client who comes for counseling.  One the left of the seat of KPS is a small cupboard in which some books and various psychological test booklets are placed. 

 

Opposite to the wall on which the picture of Krishna and Arjuna, is a concrete wall shelf in which  was a different picture of lord Krishna driving the chariot of warrior Arjuna, with his bow and arrows confident and ready to fight the inevitable war.  When a client returns after a session, if (s)he is observant (s)he can see this picture, portraying his/her own inner state of having empowered after the session.

 

THE MOOD OF THE INTERVIEW

KPS was very congenial through out the interview. I, somehow, felt a little tensed not because of interviewing KPS but because of the time limitation. As the interview continued, KPS gave the impression that we had all the time in the world.

 

CLASSIFICATION OF QUESTIONS

We already decided that the focus of the interview should be clinical psychology and related topics.  We also wanted to give representation to other topics as well.  Hence, the questions were roughly classified into Personal, General, Clinical, Social, and Spiritual.

 

A NOTE ON TRANSLATION

Reporting the interview with KPS was not an easy job because of the depth and richness of his thought. Moreover, there were a lot of pivotal switching and interplay of ideas in his thought, which were not so easy to express in the English language. Thus, we might have made a number of’ compromises in the translation.

 

THE INTERVIEW PROPER

Before the interview, I introduced my friends to KPS and briefed him about our requirements.



PERSONAL

AR: Sir, I remember reading what you wrote once. In that, you seem to have stated that a Clinical Psychologist had to handle different planes of existence from the personal to the spiritual.  You also said that these planes are continuous.  Thus, this interview is divided into 5 parts: 1st is about your personal details, and 2 to 5 are about some of those planes you referred to in that article. My friend Ganesh Mahadevan will ask you a few questions now.

 

GM: Sir, please tell us about your personal details like about your parents, siblings, wife and children.

 

KPS: I was born and brought up in Trivandrum, Kerala.  My father was a Supervisor of the medical representatives of a Swiss company.  My mother was a homemaker. My siblings and I acquired knowledge about the world, from our father at the dining table.  My father used to travel a lot. Nearly for 21 years he was in Bombay (now Mumbai) and was an active worker of the then Congress Party.  He used to work very close with Mahatma Gandhi, Rajagopalachari, Sardar Vallabahi Patel, Ashok Mehta and others.  During those times, there was an organization called Volunteer Guards.  My father was the Captain of the Guards.

 

AR: This was before (Indian) Independence.?

 

KPS: Yes.  It was before.

 

AR: Sir, was your father in the Independence Movement?

 

KPS: Yes, very much! Later, he was involved with the INA of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Probably because he came from such a background, several interesting events happened at my home. At that time my birth place, Sasthamangalam was a conservative area predominantly of the Nair community. Some castes were treated as untouchables, like the Pulaya community. Caste Hindus would not entertain the so-called low castes. Having associated with Mahatma Gandhi my father could not tolerate this. On arrival from Mumbai, my father did two noble things.  One, I would call as a revolution and the other was a reformation. That is, for the first time in our house at Sasthamangalam, a Pulaya woman (a scheduled caste woman) was inducted as a cook. My mother did not object to this, which surprised me.  It may be because my father was reasonable and was very determined. However, people around us reacted negatively. This act, though should have created a lot of commotion did not produce the expected furious reactions. Later, it occurred to me that superseding all social laws there existed an eternal moral law. With this one act, most of the people in my father’s family dropped off their caste-consciousness.  This Pulaya woman was a very intelligent person.  Her name was Paachi.  She was very neat and tidy and had other good resources both as a cook and as a person.  May be because of this, everyone in the family liked her.  We liked her family also as a whole as most of her children were like her. Even today, her eldest daughter is doing the cooking and cleaning at my younger brother’s (Dr. Chandra Prasad Sreedhar) house.  The reformation of my father started with the introduction of Cricket to South Kerala. He collected a few youths to start the Sasthamangalam Cricket and Arts Club.  My father could usher in many reformations through the Arts Club. It helped to bring many young artists and writers to the forefront. To everybody’s dismay my father kept away from the then Sasthamangalam Nair Service Society(NSS) Karayogam, not because the NSS practiced any apartheid but he felt that the organisation would curtail his freedom. My father’s eldest brother was the President of the NSS Karayogam then.  He was a not only a great scholar but a Govt. Secretary also. The drastic views of my father and the sudden implementation of the same took everybody by surprise. The perceived opponents were caught unaware. My father considered his not joining the NSS as a great achievement.

 

AR: But... why is it that not joining the Karayogam was considered a great achievement?

KPS: Had he joined the NSS Karayogam, he would have been seen as a Nair only and would not have been recognized by other castes. Sasthamangalam NSS Karayogam was better than many other Karayogams. The members might have been waiting for a change but did not have the necessary leadership, which my father supplied.

 

Hence, from the day my father arrived, many taboos that obstructed the social development, withered automatically.  The youngsters received the transformation with enthusiasm. They threw away their caste and religious consciousness and started developing a cosmopolitan outlook. My father suddenly became a leader of the youth and they needed only his encouragement and guidance. Urchins and rowdies transformed at his instance. My father encouraged some of them with good muscle power to develop into fast bowlers in the Sasthamangalam Cricket Club. Later one of them, Mr. Manikanta Kurup, became a left-handed pace bowler and played the Renjith trophy inter state competition cricket match. He once even took the wicket of the then West Indies opening batsman, Mr.Hunt when he came for a visit.  Thus, my father bought in a renaissance among the youth. My father used to catch hold of those who might have become otherwise vagabonds and gave them a focus to bring out their misguided and hidden talents. He used to lead them with love and firmness to develop their personality. My father not only used to travel a lot, but also used to tell us the ancient history and modern trends of many countries.  Our knowledge about the world was greater than many of our contemporaries because of him.

 

AR: Your father’s name, sir?

 

KPS: My father’s name was Dr. P. S. Nair. As his name was already on record, he could not throw away his caste surname. Thus, he saw to it that the names of his children should not bear the caste name. Normally my name should have been “S. Krishnan Nair” but as you know, my name is different today.

 

AR: Sir, your mother?

My father’s family members had more similarities than differences but my mother’s family was just the opposite. Hers was a very versatile family. It had people starting from ordinary laborers to the highest intellectuals.  If you consider my mother’s family, you need not have to go to any place for any specimen you need. Did you want to see a good teacher? Mother’s family had one.  If you had to see someone in a very deplorable condition there, it was. There were revolutionists, army chieftains, police officials, and people in the Indian Administrative Service etc. G.P.Pillai, my grand mother’s uncle was the first Barrister at Law from London in the Travancore princely state. His portrait was at the Victoria Jubilee Town Hall at Trivandrum until recently. Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, the then powerful Divan of Travancore, expelled the barrister for writing against the Divan in the media.  If my siblings and I had anything special, it is due to the world of knowledge given by our father and the mental potentialities we inherited from our mother. 

 

AR: To put in computer terminology, your mother gave the hardware and father gave the software for your development.  Is not it?

KPS: Yes…very much!

 

AR: Mother’s name, please.

 

KPS: G.V.Rajamma.

 

AR: Sir, your father was a medical doctor, or?

 

KPS: Yes.. medical doctor.  He had a diploma equivalent to an ‘LMP’ (Licentiate in Medical Practice) from Dhakka University. He also had some kind of a mysterious training at the hands of one “Pandit Tara Nath” at Thungabhandra. This, I guess, was more or less a spiritual training and healing about which my father spoke only very little but practiced much.

 

AR: So, no specialization and super specialization etc. Is not it?

 

KPS: No specialization.  My father passed out from the Dhakka University.  Today, I think it is in Bangladesh.

 

AR: Your date of birth, sir?

 

KPS: 25th May,1944.

 

AR: About your wife, sir.

KPS: My wife is Mrs. Latha K. Prasad.  She was born and brought up in Trivandrum, but her family came from Thrissur.  She is a B.A. Economics graduate.  She does not hold a job outside. Actually she got employed in a bank. As I had a very clear idea that my children needed their mother in their formative years, I requested her not to accept the job. When the children are grown now, she is helping our neighborhood children with their studies. She is a popular teacher now. We have two grown up children.  Both are girls and are married.  One of them has done her M.Phil. degree in Psychology at the University of Kerala, Trivandrum, and the other had passed her Psychology M.A. degree and held the first rank. My elder daughter is Lakshmi and the younger one is Nitya.

 

GM: About your siblings…

 

KPS: Umm… My siblings… My sister is the eldest.  She is married to a Nuclear Scientist of BARC, Mumbai.  Now, my brother-in-law is retired and settled with my sister at Sasthamangalam.  The second is I. The third one is Dr. Chandra Prasad Sreedhar.  He is retired as Professor from the Institute Management in Government, Trivandrum.  His interest was in Organizational Psychology.  My youngest brother is Dr. Jayadev Sreedhar. He is six years younger to me. He took his Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry.  He was in the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.  I believe he opted for a voluntary retirement. I have great admiration and sympathy for him. My admiration is because he is an original thinker and great teacher. He has invented several astonishing things but none has seen the light of the day. My sympathies are with him because he remains a dreamer. Fortunately, he is now putting sincere efforts to cultivate the scientific temper in children. Presently, he is into using Nano technology to medical science.

 

GM: About your hobbies, sir…

KPS: My original hobby was painting; oil painting. It fizzled out after my M.A. course because of lack of time.  Usually, I give my paintings as presents to my relatives. Hence, there are only one or two now left with me. While talking about hobbies, may be because of the inspiration my father gave, until recently, cricket was also my hobby.  I was an opening batsman and an off-spin bowler.

 

AR: When did you play cricket the last time, sir?

KPS: About twenty years ago.

 

AR: And never played after that?

KPS: After that I never played.  After TV telecast of cricket came, I used to watch it.  Now, I rarely watch Cricket in TV.  This is because the sportsman spirit of those old timers is lost. Now they say stupid things like ‘the killer instinct’! This pains me deeply.

 

AR: Yes,  it was seen as if it were a war, when India and Pakistan played cricket.

 

KPS: The newspapers also describe it as a war. Recently I experienced real pain when Anil Kumble took ten wickets, he was described a ‘silent assassin’!  That means this gentle man is killer!  This is not the language of cricket. My father taught us to go to the bowler who took our wicket to shake hands with the bowler. Cricket used to be a gentle man’s game.

 

AR: Isn’t it this the reflection of the cut throat competition spirit of the whole society?

 

KPS: It is the reflection of the competitive spirit of the society and mind you, we are spending large amounts to see these idiotic competitions.  Cricket has become a business. I always felt that unlike other games, cricket is a game that reflects the personality of the individual.  That is why I specifically referred to Cricket, but the phenomenon is common to all sports and games now.

 

Let me tell you one thing more.  There is nothing in the world that I did not like. I know something about everything. One reason for this is my youngest brother himself.  He used to show us that there is a science behind everything.  When he convinced me of this, I began to like all subjects.  I will tell you a recent experience.  I have not entered the stock market. I thought that it was all fraud.  My brother told that there is the science psychology in it.  Then only I realized that stock market is also one kind of behavior. When I visited a bookshop, I found a book called ‘The Psychology of the Stock Market’.  A Psychologist wrote it.  I understood many interesting thing from it. Now, I like stock market now without involving in it. However, it helped me to treat a number of people who suffered addiction and depression as they got deeply involved in it.

 

AR: In which subjects you have gone deep, other than psychology, sir?

KPS: Certainly in Philosophy.

 

AR:  Learnt it academically or..?

KPS: Yes, academically. The desire to know what was beyond this mundane existence was there in me.  However, I did not know what I was looking for.  It was then that I got admission to Philosophy in the University College, Trivandrum. At that time, to my great luck, there were three inspiring teachers. One was Professor H. J. Saunderaraj from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. I still remember that only two of us attended the classes. Others either used to quit the class or slept in the classroom. Nevertheless, for the two of us they took the class and that also very effectively. Professor H. J. Saunderaraj taught us Western Philosophy from Descartes to Kant. Great souls like Leibnitz ,Berkeley, David Hume, John Lock and many more came alive in the class room.  When there was some understanding about truth and untruth, about life and existence each day we experienced a fourth dimension of reality. There was a paper called ‘theory of knowledge’ especially of Bozanque. When I learnt all those, even my dimension of thinking changed. Later when I wanted to pursue the study of Philosophy, my beloved professor prevented it and asked me to take Psychology for according to him had I pursued Philosophy, I would not be able to win my daily bread.

 

When I joined for my M.A.degree in Psychology, I found the subject interesting. I had a special liking for Abnormal Psychology. During the course and also when I pursued the post graduate Diploma in Medical and Social Psychology, I could easily adjust with the emotionally disturbed. This may be because of my childhood experience. My primary education was at a school across the oldest mental hospitals in Kerala. During those times, there were no water taps in the schools. The only one available was at the mental hospital. Hence, we little children used to go to the hospital compound for drinking water. Harmless patients used to be in the compound to help the hospital caretakers to help them. When we enter the compound, these so-called “mad people” used to come and hug us saying, “this is my child” etc.  They would not let us go for some time.  We used to be frightened at first used to scream.   Later, we got used to it and started taking it as a play.  We the little ones realised that they would not hurt us in any way. This was an experiential realisation that the so-called abnormal people not dangerous especially to children. My desire to know the abnormalities of these people  might have sprouted then. However,  I am not sure.  Anyhow, when Prof. Saunderraj pushed me to Psychology, I started learning Psychology passionately. After my M.A. degree course, I got admission for further studies in the National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) where I learnt Clinical Psychology. When I came passed out of NIMHANS, I got an opportunity to work under Dr. A. Venkoba Rao an eminent Psychiatrist of Madurai Medical College.  Later I came to Department of Psychology, University of Kerala in 1970.  Then onwards, for the last 34 years, I worked there as Lecturer, Reader and Professor.

 

 

AR: And… what about Eastern Philosophies?

KPS: Ever since my childhood, I became aware of Eastern Philosophies. My paternal uncle, whom I referred to earlier, was a great a thinker.  He used to deliver speeches at schools and at his house. However, my information about Philosophies of the east was piece meal. I could not integrate the vast ocean of knowledge until I learnt Western Philosophies. Then everything started falling into order. During that time, I started reading anything that came on my way. I remember to have read the contemplations of the Indian philosopher Charvaka (the materialist), and the ‘Advaitha’ philosophy of Adi Sankara. I also read the contributions of all those between these two. Later I read Osho Rajanish.  Because of these, my perspective regarding life and attitude in general changed.  Thus my first love is, even now, Philosophy.

 

GENERAL

 

GM: Sir, what is your advice to the public on how to maintain a better mental health?

KPS: I myself, I am not in the pink of mental health. Then how can I advise others. Nevertheless, I would venture. Please consider this as bookish knowledge. The most important aspect of good mental health is to find out a simple way of living.  As the Social Psychologists have pointed out all of us have needs and wants.  We have to satisfy our needs.  For example, when we are thirsty, we have to drink water, when we are hungry we have to take food. These are needs.  Needs must be satisfied.  The fallacy of modern living is converting our wants into needs. Then what happens is that our needs are never satisfied for wants are multiplied unconsciously. When wants transform into needs, we have infinite ‘needs’. When we feel that we have not satisfied our needs, a mental imbalance would develop. This is the pathology. One important pre condition for good mental health is to adopt a simple life.

 

The next important step is to be aware of Personal growth or sometime ago known as Personality development. Personal growth can occur only if a person has a healthy body. This is largely ignored in modern educational settings and in life in general. One must be told to look after one’s body. The most prominent step in this direction is to eat a balanced diet. One must learn to avoid stress food. Once the body is fit, consider the nature of our mind. Mind, which is a myth, is now ruling the world. Mind is often the troublemaker. As said earlier, understand the needs, define them and keep the mind steady. Let it not run around all that we desire. We should keep our intelligence alert as only intelligence has the capacity to discriminate. It can decipher what is required and what is not, those to be accepted and rejected, those to be wanted and not wanted. It is necessary that we initially experience dichotomies and dualities. Intelligence brings these to the mind.  Eventually we should transcend dualities by understanding that the opposites are not contradictions but complementary. Personal integration starts with this.

 

So also, as far as possible, we must avoid unnecessary competitions. Competition to this degree is very unnatural. Presently we cannot live without competition.  So, compete wherever necessary.  Develop a special ego for meeting the present competition.  However, do not forget to develop its opposite; the mentality of cooperation. In the former, one is fighting with someone and in the latter one is cooperating with some one, probably with the same person. Then it becomes a play. There will not be any poison stored in the mind.

 

It is also necessary to know the nature of the mind. In my opinion there is nothing called a mind as an entity. It is an illusion. What we are referring to as mind is nothing but the rapid crisscrossing of thoughts in the form of words and images. The best proof is meditation. Meditation happens when one is beyond the play of words and images. This is known as ‘no mindedness’ or ‘the void’. The consciousness that one experiences at this stage is claimed to be the reality of oneness. It is beneficial to have frequent excursions to this core of the personality, as it is beneficial to all the other states of consciousness called - wakefulness, dreaming and sleeping.

 

Another important aspect of personal growth is to develop service mindedness.  Presently even children are taught to be selfish. They do not have mentality to cooperate. Service mindedness is completely lost by the time these children come out of their classes. Modern education appears to imbibe competition and not cooperation. Children need only to compete and get the first rank.  This was not so in our childhood days. Some reward awaited a child who showed cooperation.  At least while making a school garden children used to cooperate. There used to be no discrimination between the son of the Government Chief Secretary and the son of a labourer.   Both used to be treated identically. This used to foster a sense of belongingness and humility along with dignity of labour. Today a child is rewarded if he studies well at school. Parents and teachers are not bothered about the personal growth of children. The net result is anxiety and depression in children. What a pity! 

 

The next important thing is to have a feeling of self-worth. This is conspicuous by its absence these days. Self worth leads to self-esteem and self-confidence. To attain these one should acquire certain skills. The first thing among these is communication skills irrespective of the language one speaks.  This includes all competencies, from individual conversation to mass communication. So also, presently it is necessary that one should know basic thing regarding plumbing, sanitary work, electrical work and painting the walls of the house etc. everything that is useful for house maintenance. In the olden days, they used to say with a negative tone that some one was a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.  Now, we have to rephrase it.  You should become ‘Jack of all trades and master of some’.  Do not think that others would say that you’re putting your head into everything.  One should know something about everything.  This I wish to call the ‘survival kit’. If one acquires this, one will not have inferiority feelings or complex, because, wherever you go, you know something about everything. If we acquire social skills from childhood onwards, our mental health would surely strengthen proportionately. 

 

Now, I am coming to the spiritual… the belief that there is an all-pervading power in the world, an energy that is immutable and eternal. This is important. I am saying this because; we have a variety of responses. The first response is the reflex response.  The second is the conditioned response. The third is the social response. There is a cultural response also. Along with these, we need something called the faith response.  The faith response helps in our survival.  The reason for this is that only humans have this state of imperfection.  For example, a cat brings forth its babies. In whatever way the mother brings them up they grow up as perfect cats. In the case of animals, perfection is automatic.  However, the human child does not become a perfect (wo)man.  Whatever perfection (s)he has reached is partly due to the upbringing. No human being becomes perfect. We can point out that there is still scope for growth.  Thus, being human is unstable. Human life is a never-ending evolution. What I meant was not the Darwinian evolution.  Human beings are going through an evolution in the domain of the mind. Today’s me can become a better me tomorrow.  Human life is a constant challenge. Therefore, we need a goal.  The goal must be a perfect one. Perfection is a model.  Whether that model exists or not, with that model firmly in mind we should approximate to the model.  Every country has a model.  In many places it is in the shape of their religion. Religion mostly is a set of practice. Spiritual attainment is the aim of these practices. The present tragedy is that people practice religion and appears to have forgotten spirituality. It appears as if the end is forgotten and the means is glorified. There is no harm in decorating the means to make them glittering rituals. Often what happens is that truth is forgotten in the glitter. We can keep a model as the symbol of spirituality.  This is required, but the model should not be mistaken for the real. It is to be remembered that religion and spirituality are two things. Spirituality is reality. Religion is nothing but a few rituals to remind us that spirituality exists. In all the ages great souls and scholars have come and showed us that we should not get obsessed with religious practices. Very many people do not know this, they pursue the rituals, and evolution to spirituality ceases. Obsessive visits to temples, mosques and churches are not spirituality.  Spirituality is having a symbol of the ultimate as our temporary goal and moving towards it.  If one practices this mental health would improve.

 

AR: Is there any specific reason for you to turn to Clinical practice, sir?

KPS: Yes. I always wanted to serve people. Hence, I wanted to become a medical doctor and to work in the rural areas. Clinical Psychology was the next best. Thus, I chose to be a one. Unfortunately, Clinical Psychology is yet to be simplified to suit the need of the rural people.

 

AR: It’s said that there are three major forces in Psychology – Psychoanalysis of Freud, Behaviorism of Pavlov, Watson and Skinner, and Humanistic Psychology of Maslow and others.  Sir, you usually use the Behavioristic approach.  Why is this so?  Is it because that there is a teacher like role in it?

 

KPS: Although, Sigmund Freud has influenced me, I practiced and preached Behaviourism for two reasons. The public at that time was very confused about Psychology. Many believed that it was an occult science and that a psychologist could read the minds of people and held some special powers. I delivered a number of lecturers and wrote in the media regarding the nature of psychology. I also used to emphasis that psychology is a social science and closer to the more exacting sciences. I believe some of us who constantly influenced the public with speeches and articles should remove the unnecessary hallow around Psychology. Now, public understand it as a science.

 

AR: Was not that because the role as an academician and the role as a Behaviorist have much in common?

KPS: In the academics, Behaviorism helped me much in teaching students. I could move from the simple to the complex without confusing the students. Teaching Dynamic and Existential psychology were not a problem thus.

 

AR: Sir, when did you start clinical practice?

KPS. Clinical practice started from 1966 when the training in NIMHANS started. Independent practice started from 1970 when I came to the University of Kerala. I have worked as part-time Clinical Psychologist at the Kerala University Health Centre.

AR: What are the personal qualities required for a Clinical Psychologist, according to you, sir?

KPS. The therapist should have infinite patience, an ocean of sympathy, a deep empathy, and skills to make the client/patient communicate the inner turmoil by supplying appropriate words. In short one needs relatedness and love.

AR: Based on your own R&D of many years of counseling/therapy experience, you might have a personal theory?  Would you please share it with us?

KPS: My personal theory is always changing. Presently, I follow the Eclectic approach. My personal theory is now mostly oriental. Usually I start with Behaviour analysis, looks at the problem Dynamically, searches for any existential ‘angst’ and guides my clients to the oriental which believes in the transcendental nature of human beings. I do emphasise that there is life after bodily death and the law of Karma. In chronic cases, Astrology comes as a consolation. The cardinal point is to tell people the impermanence of the body and the permanence of the Self. In India, this is not difficult to practice as culture supports it.

AR: You have published a compilation of your approaches in the Manasasthram monthly.  Do you have any idea to publish more works, sir?

KPS:  Yes, but I find it difficult to write down. I can easily type out. When the computer gets a good Malayalam letter software, I might do that.

AR: Your Guided Somato-Psychic Relaxation technique has been very useful for both the mentally disturbed and the normal.  How did you get such an idea?  Do you have any new idea for a similar tool?

KPS: Yes, several hospitals use the GSPR. It is used as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy and others as it supplies completeness to the treatment. More over, the technique guides the people to the experience of the transcendental for a few seconds. I used to practice Transcendental Meditation of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi. It gave me glimpses of other realities more imposing than that the one we experience now. My earlier attempts to understand Yoga of Pathanjali also helped me in a big way. GSPR is an amalgamation of all these. The superiority is its ease of practice every day. I have no idea for any new tool, but the present GSPR is undergoing some changes to produce greater impact.

AR: What’re your future plans?

KPS: Expand the horizon of GSPR by increasing the time for transcendence. To make people understand that it is not a panacea but a common denominator for treatment possibilities if not for our very existence.

AR: What’s the future of Psychology in general and Clinical Psychology in particular in India and Kerala?

KPS: Clinical Psychology has tremendous scope in India if do not confine to the western practices. Psychology has emerged as the science of the future. The scope for its use is unlimited.

AR: Do you really think that Psychological Disorders are increasing in Kerala? Why?

KPS: Yes,  especially depressive disorders. In a set up like this where competition has become the order of the day, what else do you expect? People are not natural now.

AR: Have you ever experienced high stress?  How did you overcome this?  Do Clinical Psychologists experience high stress as part of their profession?

KPS: I did have periods of high stress. Oriental approach to life gave me solace and liberation. Many Clinical Psychologists experience high stress. This is primarily because they fight with Psychiatrists. Let them understand that Clinical Psychology is warmly accepted in other fields like Neurology, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Oncology, Cardiology and in all kinds of Surgery Preparations. Working with these specialists is more rewarding. In Psychiatry also, it is rewarding to work with Psycho-socially oriented Psychiatrists.

 

AR: What is the chance of a Psychologist becoming mentally ill when compared with a lay person?  Once, in the USA, Psychologists were the professionals who were more prone to suicide than others.  How do you see this?

KPS: Psychologists who acts as demy gods are going to be in real trouble. Humility alone can ensure sanity. It was Psychiatrists who were prone to suicide in other countries.

AR: You’re one of the Clinical Psychologists in Kerala trained in the USA on a Fulbright award.  Please share the experiences you have there?  What are the differences between the Psychological practices of here and there?

KPS: In USA, I happened to be attached to a department, which was doing research at the micro level. I wanted some experience at the social level. There was not enough time to jump from the micro to the macro. However, my experiences with some the great professors were very rewarding.

AR: Which role do you like the most – of a Clinical Psychologist or of an Academician? Why?

KPS: Both, because one was teaching and doing research at the level of theory and the other was dealing with the real human being. I loved both.

AR: As a parent, what child rearing practices you have followed.?

KPS: Unfortunately, the permissive. Probably because both my children were girls.

AR: Do you believe in Astrology, Palmistry? Vasthu? Fengshui? Etc? Why?

KPS: I do believe in Astrology, primarily based on my personal experience. But I do not believe in all astrologers as many of them lack inner purity which is an essential prerequisite to practice Astrology. I have not looked into Palmistry, Vasthu, and Fengshui, Reiki and Pranic healing in detail to comment upon them.

AR: Could you tell us what the goal of Personality development according to ancient India?  Was there any kind of Psychotherapy in ancient India?  If so, what was the goal of Psychotherapy then?  Please enlighten us on these.

KPS: You said it. Yes, enlightenment was the goal of personality development. Goal of Psychotherapy was also exactly that. Enlightenment means the experiential realisation that we are one with the Universal Consciousness. There is no two. Experience of separation is due to ignorance. Enlightenment dispels separation and duality. 

AR: Sir, are you satisfied as a Clinical Psychologist?

Yes, I am very happy.