After suffering almost N-th social media post on a story of a gentleman in Gujarat government service claiming to be Kalki-avatar of Vishnu, I am now deeply intrigued, not about this strange reincarnation of Vishnu, but about those writing these posts.
Most of these writers are well-educated Indians qualifying to be liberal intellectuals known for not missing a single opportunity to make tongue-in-cheek statements about Gujarat, so I have no doubt that they will treat a delusional man from Gujarat as a God sent gift, and I don’t grudge them for it.
My only problem is, if I pick the same group of people for a panel discussion on Ms. Padukone’s depression, I will have them gushing over the need of being sensitive and considerate for those suffering from mental health issues.
The same lot will be full of understanding if Ms. Fernandez opens up about her tryst with anxiety. In short, they are those who are proud to be better sensitized about mental health.
I have no diagnostic expertise on psychology of delusion or for that matter on Kalki avatar, but I strongly feel that there is a reasonable possibility that the gentleman in question is passing through episodes of delusion, a mental disorder similar to the one depicted wonderfully in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” based on the real life story of mathematician John Nash.
Strange though it may sound, delusions are not all that rare. As we all perceive the world through different brain-minds, each of us constructs a story about reality that is unique, so every “reality” is a personal illusion that stops from being a delusion as long as it is anchored to actual reality through pegs of commonly shared aspects of similar stories harbored in many other minds.
It is only when the story of a given individual gets a bit too outlandishly unique, we start looking at it as a delusion. But, in practical terms, all delusions are not distinguishable or worrisome. It is only when a person starts responding to the delusion extensively enough to get out of sync with common reality, it becomes a matter of medical concern.
Medical science is still struggling with pathology of delusions, so it is not always possible for “curing” a person of his/her delusion, but delusions have to be taken seriously; as, in some mental problems like schizophrenia, delusions appear from ancient drives of brain such as self-preservation, and cause acute paranoia leading to violent acts of imaginary self-defense.
So there is a serious need to evaluate those suffering from delusions and help/manage them for their own safety as well as of others.
Though delusion is a mental health issue, it doesn’t enjoy the branding that now glamoured anxiety and depression disorders enjoy. While subjective-ness of “madness” is now becoming more and more apparent to science, delusional individuals are still treated as madmen by the society.
The nature of social media response to the case of Kalki avatar is a clear indication that even the most educated people are still not able to de-stigmatize delusion and give it status of a mental health issue.
It is really unfortunate that a delusional man is made fun of. What he really needs is consideration and help. One of the greatest cures of pathological delusion is self-awareness. Just as Nash could live with his problem and contribute to Maths by being rooted to reality through a conscious awareness about his delusion, it is possible for a delusional person to reclaim “reality” with help and encouragement from others.
So, dear liberals, instead of treating this as an opportunity to demean Gujarat, please treat it as an opportunity to spread awareness about delusion disorders.