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Saturday 06-11-2021 – Young adulthood 2

Last week we looked at the problem that Saumya had because of a severe conscience and constriction by family values. She has clearly split herself into two different personalities. As a result, outside her home, where the drives take precedence over stable conscience, she is very impulsive, dominating, pleasure loving and spontaneous. She is so much engaged in taking the pleasures of life that she does not realize the temporary nature of these actions. Also, as these actions do not take into account the needs and concerns of others, they appear to be self-serving. This has also resulted into her having few stable relationships and commitments. As soon as she is home, the parental images take over and she has to push away the fun-loving image. This results in a severe frustration and need for rebellion. However, the severe conscience prevents her from acting out the opposition and instead she submits to the image of a responsible daughter stifling her own needs. Here, Saumya is using the defenses of splitting, projection and suppression. These are immature defenses at her age and developmental level.

What should Saumya do?

First of all, she has to accept that her parents have limitations. She has to get out of the idealizations that she has of her parents having made immense sacrifices. Yes, they definitely struggled very hard and she should be grateful to them for giving her a very good support in her life. However, she has to balance out her life between caring for her parents and becoming individuated in the world. She feels like distancing herself from her parents only because she is not balancing her life. She is only trying to flee from an exacting interaction. If she were to enjoy her life without feeling guilty, she will be able to have a better relationship with her parents. This in turn would also help her look at herself as more stable than she is now and reflect the same attitude in her relationships in the extrafamilial environment. She has to be aware of her budding independence and water it more. She has started to feel that she is no longer interested in a committed relationship and marriage, perhaps she is afraid that she may not be competent to handle another person in her life. The expectation may be that even the other person would be exacting as her parents are and this prohibits her from really developing a relationship. She should realize that the parents’ attitude is probably coming out of having gone through a struggle that has made them expect this “responsible” behaviour from her. Not everyone has the same values and can give her an environment that can let her wishes and desires come out in a way that they can be satisfied and enjoyed without guilt ruining the process. Sometimes an unconscious need might be of playing the parent to her struggling parents. She sees them as very weak and not being able to take care by themselves. She fears that her moving away from her parents might break them as they have no support. In order to avoid exploring this fear, she probably shies away from establishing any committed relationship elsewhere. There is also a projection of her fun loving personality on her brother Anuj. She hates his carefree attitude because she is unable to circumvent her conscience as he can. He may be exploiting the princely status afforded to him but Saumya is equally responsible for feeling sad over the situation. She has to teach him an attitude other than what his parents have nurtured. If she is able to stop him from taking advantage of the situation, she would not feel this frustrated. He is now 16 years old and enough to take care of himself. The important thing is to get out of a nurturing attitude. The greatest battle that Saumya has to fight is not with her parents or with her brother but with her own conscience. She has to realize that she is being extremely strict with herself for no reason whatever. Often there may be an exaggeration of the parental expectations in order to mask the inner anxieties about dealing with the world. She has to interact with the world otherwise she will find herself short in her married life if she does choose somebody. Saumya has to expand her world to include the society at large. 

Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.