Love And Rage – The Inner Worlds Of Children by Nupur Dhingra Paiva deals with the emotional trauma that children go through in the everyday passing realities of the country. Though often neglected, children form their experiences with the outside world, and are far from being passive beings, as believed by adults.
The book brings out the aspects of children’s lives in India. The author has attempted to twist the genre of psychotherapy by deeply personalising and contextualising it by bring in the “emotional, socio-cultural, historical, political and personal” aspects of children in India.
He had come in huge and limping. It was hard to believe that he was 17 years old. He was too big and yet when I looked closely at his face, hiding behind too-big glasses, it looked like it did not fit the body. His face looked like he was 12. His body was much older, like that of a middle-aged man with the gait of a toddler.
To my standard opening question of ‘What is the internal emotional difficulty you would like help with’, he answered, ‘I am very disconnected from my emotions. I can’t feel anything for very long. It goes away. Even happiness.’
Aside from the fact that he had not answered my question directly, I wondered whose words those were. It sounded more like stating a professional opinion rather than a struggle. I made a mental note to bring this up later.
He gave me an example: he had come back home from his economics exam and was unhappy with his performance. He was angry with himself, he said. I noticed that he interrupted himself several times; it was very difficult for him to tell me this one story.
A few questions later, I asked him—‘You say you are struggling to hang on to your feelings. Do you want to be able to feel them? Is focusing on your feelings something you want to do?
’Somewhat emphatically, he said ‘Yes! I don’t want to feel anything! I want to be numb. I want to be stable.’
So that was it. Not feeling his emotions was not actually a problem for him. It was his aim.
The contradiction did not escape me. I found myself becoming agitated, irritated, angry even during that session. It started as a heat inside and it was out, sarcasm and all, before I could edit it to make it more palatable.
‘I see. So, I can focus on your feelings and you can focus on being numb. This is going to be a great therapeutic relationship.’
Also read: The Trauma Of Growing Up Amidst Domestic Abuse
Excerpted with permission from Love And Rage – The Inner Worlds Of Children By Nupur Dhingra Paiva, Yoda Press. You can buy this book at 20% off at the FII-Yoda Press Winter Book Sale on 21st and 22nd December 2018 in New Delhi. For more details, check out the sale page.