Harmful effects of meditation and 'India syndrome'
#1
This article is intriguing. tl;dr: (1) People from the west visit India sometimes as a result of a (possibly) psychiatric condition called 'India syndrome' or a simple, deep interest in eastern mysticism, (2) 'India syndrome' can be pretty bad- causing psychosis (as I understand it), etc., (3) some westerners also suffer (go missing, die, etc.) due to extrinsic hazards such as crime, (4) some forms of meditation are dangerous (extreme example, Tibetan 'chöd' which involves meditating next to corpses, 10 hr vipassana sessions, etc.

http://www.details.com/culture-trends/cr...ightenment

The author does cite some science, but there's some inexact stuff like this:

Quote:As cultural observers going back to Shakespeare have noted, there's a fine balance between spiritual growth and madness; those who lack a solid spiritual foundation could tip more easily toward the latter.

A few things to discuss:

(1) How accurate are the scientific claims mentioned in this article?
(2) From my personal experience, I've seen symptoms of a psychiatric obsession with 'spirituality' and mysticism (like 'India syndrome') even among Indians.
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#2
(02-Oct-2012, 09:57 PM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: (1) How accurate are the scientific claims mentioned in this article?

One reason why studies aren't satisfactorily conclusive in this area, is the paucity of participants who qualify as 'normal controls'. Some common reasons that preclude many visitors to India from being treated as 'normal controls' are (i) 'pre-existing conditions' which may have been a motivation to seek meditation as a remedy in the first place (ii) confounds introduced by culture shock (iii) credulity induced by Indophilia.

A quick Google Scholar search on 'risks of meditation' yielded the following (no paywall):
Yoga and psychosis: risks and therapeutic potential, Naveen, K.V.; Telles, Shirley, 2003
Psychological problems precipitated by Transcendental Meditation, Lazarus, 1976

While risks of meditation for participants with a history of psychosis seem to be well-studied and recognized, there seems to be no substantial studies or sufficient grounds to suggest that meditation poses mental health risks for normal participants without a history of psychosis.

(02-Oct-2012, 09:57 PM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: (2) From my personal experience, I've seen symptoms of a psychiatric obsession with 'spirituality' and mysticism (like 'India syndrome') even among Indians.

Such an 'India syndrome' often appears in tandem with a 'Be Indian. Buy Indian' syndrome, for, in the minds of cultural nationalists, what is more 'Made in India' than spiritual products? The notion that an 'It happens only in India' description applies to spirituality is reinforced in popular media portrayals, such as the Chanakya episodes discussed here. Amartya Sen repudiates such parochialism in this 1996 article Satyajit Ray and the art of Universalism: Our Culture, Their Culture.


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#3
Hello,
I am search of answers and hopefully solutions.
My 19 year old daughter went to India to volunteer in December 2012. March 26, 2013…3 short months…Something terrible happened as we were contacted by the volunteer group and a hospital that our daughter was being wild and violent and that we needed to pick her up as she was unable to travel alone. We live in Chicago, Illinois. The India hospital had diagnosed my daughter as Bi-Polar Mania. We were told that she had become extremely violent, destroying other volunteers and the family she was with personal property and they could not control her and that is why they took her to the hospital. At the hospital, she was so uncontrollable they had to sedate her and strap her down. She had to be heavily drugged to safely bring her back to America. She has been home for 2 weeks so far and her behavior is not violent, but her mind is totally gone. She speaks of wild things, she thinks she is the next gandhi, she believes the world has ended and re-started, she thinks she knows the truth about everything and everyone, she hears voices talking to her, she has horrible vivid dreams and comes to me in the middle of the night crying and upset. She talks constantly of astrology and numbers and how she knows the truth about the world. She believes she has all the answers to everything, to infinity.

We have taken her to a psychiatrist who seems only to be going along with this India psychiatrist that diagnosed her bipolar within 24 hours. I do not believe she is bipolar as she never exhibited such behavior prior to India. I need help and I need answers. My ex-husband is going along with the Dr's and buying their diagnosis. I cannot. I know my daughter, I know who she was and I want her back. I am asking if you know how I can get my baby girl back to who she was. I miss her so much. This person she has become is so scary and even she admitted to me that she is scared, but her fear is because she believes that she knows everything and the truth of life and death. What happened to my child? How can I help bring her back to realty? I will do anything, please, please, please help me, I am desperate to have my daughter back to who she was.
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#4
Butterfly,

Thank you for stopping by, though it is unfortunate that this visit was occasioned by such trying circumstances for you. Thank you also for the confidence you place ahead of time in this community for how potentially helpful it can be.

This forum indeed offers educational exchanges with informed and earnest participants, who are ever-ready to offer reading recommendations and tipoffs to news items. While we may view this community with tremendous goodwill, we are at the same time keenly aware of the fact that an earnest view is no substitute for a trained eye. We are also keenly aware of the fact that however educational we may find a forum's reading recommendations for leisure reading, its trustworthiness is trumped by trained personnel who are best equipped to provide emergency assistance in the life-situations that demand them.

As a longtime participant in these forums and a commenter in the discussion above, allow me to clarify that the exercise above simply compiled some published references, which do not in themselves provide any basis for individual medical diagnoses. In healthcare decisions, a licensed therapist's informed opinion is more deserving of trust that any other views presented by the 'wisdom of the crowds', however well-meaning the crowd maybe.

While deferring to a therapist on diagnoses is recommended, some online efforts that can indeed help are connecting with other families in similar situations and accessing educational resources from authorized sources like the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH brochures for different conditions along with contact details that can help connect with supporting communities, can be found in this folder. In particular, those materials offer suggestions for friends and family.). I am sure it also echoes the thoughts of many other forum participants here, when I hope that you find soon the most suitable assistance to hasten recovery.
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#5
hi butterfly,
hope your daughter is fine. i can maybe help u with what u r going thru. i just want to give u a few of my ideas.
first of all there are some indications that ur daughter was in a "mental crisis". It is common for symptoms to come up at this age. 19 years is kind of like a barrier age when it comes to these types of mind problems.
u said she decided to volunteer in india. i suspect,she like many sensitive people may be thinking a lot about the world and the suffering of many all over. some people are just extremely sensitive to this..did this play a role in goin to india to help the poor?

how was her childhood..did she have many friends who supported her? or was she the quite type who always seemed to be perfectly fine and well behaved?

one of the things that i think stands out in intelligent people is their ability to "connect the dots"..They can connect dots where others dont see the connection...but the reverse can also hhappen..and the brain starts connecting dots where there arent any..so when she sees numbers and astrology being relevant to worldwide events.

some things that may help are..u urself shud be mature in dealing with her and hold her to behave maturely.
she may be scared because "now that she has known the truth" the world is after her...this may be something like..she "knows" the world is being run by "corporations" or "aliens" , and now that she knows, they are after her.she is scared for her life.

i wanna know more about her..hope i helped..let me know..

(26-Apr-2013, 08:12 PM)Butterfly Wrote: Hello,
I am search of answers and hopefully solutions.
My 19 year old daughter went to India to volunteer in December 2012. March 26, 2013…3 short months…Something terrible happened as we were contacted by the volunteer group and a hospital that our daughter was being wild and violent and that we needed to pick her up as she was unable to travel alone. We live in Chicago, Illinois. The India hospital had diagnosed my daughter as Bi-Polar Mania. We were told that she had become extremely violent, destroying other volunteers and the family she was with personal property and they could not control her and that is why they took her to the hospital. At the hospital, she was so uncontrollable they had to sedate her and strap her down. She had to be heavily drugged to safely bring her back to America. She has been home for 2 weeks so far and her behavior is not violent, but her mind is totally gone. She speaks of wild things, she thinks she is the next gandhi, she believes the world has ended and re-started, she thinks she knows the truth about everything and everyone, she hears voices talking to her, she has horrible vivid dreams and comes to me in the middle of the night crying and upset. She talks constantly of astrology and numbers and how she knows the truth about the world. She believes she has all the answers to everything, to infinity.

We have taken her to a psychiatrist who seems only to be going along with this India psychiatrist that diagnosed her bipolar within 24 hours. I do not believe she is bipolar as she never exhibited such behavior prior to India. I need help and I need answers. My ex-husband is going along with the Dr's and buying their diagnosis. I cannot. I know my daughter, I know who she was and I want her back. I am asking if you know how I can get my baby girl back to who she was. I miss her so much. This person she has become is so scary and even she admitted to me that she is scared, but her fear is because she believes that she knows everything and the truth of life and death. What happened to my child? How can I help bring her back to realty? I will do anything, please, please, please help me, I am desperate to have my daughter back to who she was.
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#6
I think we Indians can help fight "India Syndrome" ourselves.

Many on the forum seem to be familiar with Edward Said. The myth of a "mystic east" is something that Saidians tend to write about frequently.

It is irritating to read accounts of people like Yanni or Steve Jobs which refer to Indians as simultaneously more child-like and spiritual-- it shows how indoctrinated with the myth of the "mystic east" they are.

It doesn't take much to show how false it is. As Jonardon Ganeri writes:

Quote: According to Radhakrishnan, Indian philosophy is "essentially spiritual," dominated by the spiritual motive... It is both remarkable and significant that someone as well acquainted with the original sources as Radhakrishnan should propound such a view of Indian thought. For the existence of strong rational, logical, and empirical trends in Indian thought was well known both to nineteenth century European logicians, as well as to Orientalists and historians of logic.

Popularizing this kind of philosophy to compete with spiritualist clap-trap-- and not just the few fragments of Carvaka we have left, but philosophy from all schools with logical and empirical leanings-- will do a lot to stop foreigners from coming here for all sorts of stuff like Reiki healing and what not.
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