• 28 Aug
    Heena Sheth

    Ten movies that best describe mental issues

    mental health

     

    Sometimes a character’s anguish, paranoia, depression or madness simply jumps off the screen. Dealing with mental illness in real life is a difficult task and therefore communicating the same on the reels can be a task of great responsibility. Different psychological disorders have always found some form of representation in movies. Let’s have a look at ten such movies that help one to understand more about a mental illness.

    A beautiful mind

    A Beautiful Mind (2001)

    Director: Ron Howard

    This movie is about a brilliant mathematician who is struggling with his own inner demons. A Beautiful Mind portrays the life of the paranoid schizophrenic but the insightful mathematician, John Nash. This movie showcase how the symptoms of schizophrenia are misunderstood by people as the characteristics of a genius. With Russell Crowe in the lead role, the viewer gets an insight into the suffering of a patient with schizophrenia. The film shows how the “delusions of grandeur” pave their way to create social barriers between a schizophrenic and others. The character depicted is hyper, asocial and egotistical. The movie isn’t reduced to the clichés and stereotypes about schizophrenia. When one sees Nash’s life fragment into pieces that he can’t put together, one does sympathize with his condition.

     black swan

    Black Swan (2011)

    Director: Darren Aronofsky

    Black Swan is a dark psychological thriller which is literally skin-deep. It brings to light the struggle that performers go through at the cost of entertainment. The movie is about a young ballerina, Nina, played by Natalie Portman, who attempts to embody both the White Swan and the Black Swan for the forthcoming Swan Lake Ballet. The white swan is virginal, sweet and innocent whereas the Black Swan is guile, dark and seductive. The movie delves into the psyche of Nina and the viewer himself/herself experiences the pressure, stress, and impetus of the protagonist as she tries to achieve perfection and not lose her sanity in the process. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dissociative disorder, Hallucinations and Anorexia Nervosa have been marvelously portrayed owing to the director’s understanding of the female hysteria.

     eternal sunshine of a spotless mind

    Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind (2004)

    Director: Michel Gondry

    Imagine that you could erase the traumatic memories from your brain! Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind is a story about two people who were destined to meet, fall in love, fall apart, erase their memories of each other and then meet again. The movie begins with the disorientation of the protagonist- Jim Carrey who plays the character of Joel. Soon he finds that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine (played by Kate Winslet) has undergone a brain-zapping procedure and got all the memories made with him removed. He too is interested in getting the same process done. The main technology used in this movie is the focused erasure of troubling memories. However, scenes from the movie reveal that in spite of this focused erasure of certain bad memories, some things cannot be forgotten and certain fragments transcend the procedure of memory removal. The film depicts Clementine’s character as one of an impulsive personality type and hence making her more likely to follow the said loop. Kaufman explores the mind with and portrays his perspective in the form of compelling visuals. He believes that true happiness is only found in that which is new, and if new love is all that maintain, is it not noble that for the sake of love, the world is forgotten? Eternal Sunshine is to be found in the spotless minds and spotless Joel’s and Clementine’s minds remain. Although this film belongs to the genre of romance, the director’s genius also makes one think about the way an amnesiac would perceive the world around themselves.

    Girl Interrupted

    Girl, Interrupted (1999)

    Director: James Mangold

    Girl, Interrupted is a gem about the female subconscious mostly where femininity and identity are concerned. The movie is based on the book written by Susanna Kaysen that describes her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s. Girl, Interrupted is about the life of a strange girl named Suzanna, played by Winona Ryder. It starts with Suzanna swallowing a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka; her stomach is pumped inside an emergency room. She asks the ER team if they can check her hands because she believes that they don’t have bones. She is suicidal; however, she denies this fact stating that it was a headache that she was trying to stop. The film, since it is based largely in the mental institute, depicts how people with different psychological disorders are really like. Girl, Interrupted also stars Angelina Jolie who plays the character of a sociopath.

    jacob's ladder

    Jacob's Ladder (1990)

    Director: Adrian Lyne

    Jacob’s Ladder is a psychological thriller from 1990. The story follows Jacob played by Tim Robbins who is a Vietnam veteran who lives in New York and is trying to deal with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that he is suffering from because of Vietnam. While in New York, he tries to uncover that the American Government might have experimented on him and his squad using a specialized form of a gas, making them hallucinate, as he has hallucinations during the day while he is living in New York too. But as his investigation deepens he starts to question his own reality. Soon, Jacob meets one of his fellow Vietnam soldiers called Paul, who explains to him that he is suffering from the ill-effects of the experimentation that the American Government forced onto the soldiers in Vietnam. In the film, we see Jacob struggle with paranormal delusions, apparitions, and hallucinations of demons and monsters - leaving him confused whether it is a psychological breakdown or a fit of hysteria. The horrors of war and the life threatening impact of PTSD are the central ideas of the film. Several research studies have shown a high correlation between death (suicide) and PTSD. Jacob ’s Ladder is an unnerving film exploring guilt and pain.

    one flew over the cuckoo nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest (1975)

    Director: Miloš Forman

    This one is a simple story about a man named Randle McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson)who has been admitted to a mental institution. Here, he notices how the head nurse, Nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher) abuses the patients and hence, decides to get the men to stand up against her. He befriends the other members of his ward and starts up a classic rivalry with the domineering nurse. Naturally, the head nurse won’t let their rebellion be successful, so she decides to strike back by severely punishing this man. At its core, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about chaos versus order and conformity versus rebellion. There is no freedom without chaos and yet to maintain order there must be some oppression. He teaches the other patients to have fun and encourages them to embrace themselves. He is able to convince them that not only are they sane people, but also they are humans. An order is imposed on the patients with an almost cult-like approach. McMurphy soon discovers that he is not just trapped by physical walls, but also by mental walls of imprisonment as well. Routine is imprisonment. The movie is set in a mental institution yet explores manages to symbolize social issues in a beautiful manner. It also leaves behind a positive message that self-confidence is the key.

    shutter island

    Shutter Island (2010)

    Director: Martin Scorsese

    Based on a novel by Denris Lehane, the movie directed by Martin Scorsese stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Edward Daniels, a US Marshall. In 1954,  Daniels is sent to Ashcliffe Hospital on Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient named Rachel Solando.  Ashcliffe Hospital is a mental hospital for the mentally ill criminals. The director uses storytelling devices to plunge into the character of Daniels and toys with emotions. This gripping psychological drama keeps the viewer locked to the screen since the very beginning. The movie also reveals the standing of psychology in the 50s. In the movie we find Marshall Daniels visiting the said hospital for an ulterior motive to track down a man named Andrew Laddies, who killed his wife; however, the doctors at the hospital have something else in store for him. This movie is surely a mental rollercoaster.

    silver linings playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

    Director: David O. Russell

    An offbeat romance starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook brings out bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and self-destructive addiction as they are. The story here is about Pat played by Cooper, who is substitute teacher who has been recently discharged from a psychiatric institution where he was sent on account of his undiagnosed bipolar disorder on account of killing the man who was seeing his wife. After being released after 8 months, he is filled with immense motivation to make his life better and keep fit, that too without medication. He is convinced that his estranged wife is still waiting for him to get better. He meets Tiffany played by Jennifer Lawrence who is on self-destructive behaviour ever since the death of her husband. She agrees to give Pat’s letter to his wife if he agrees to dance with her for the upcoming dance competition. They bond on the fact that both of them have troubled lives. The characters seem real and the viewer is able to relate to them.It makes one think, feel, and it is heartfelt. The visual style given by the director makes the viewer get inside the lives and heads of the characters.

    the machinist

    The Machinist (2004)

    Director: Brad Anderson

    Starring Christian Bale as Trevor in one of his most critically acclaimed performances, The Machinist is about a factory worker who is struggling with chronic insomnia since a year. The movie succeeds in weaving an intriguing character study of an insomniac. The film illustrates how physically and mentally harmful lack of sleep can be. Trevor represents a frailty and mild mannered vulnerability that partly comes from him being emaciated. He is also plagued by paranoia and hallucination.  The death of a co-worker at a work place accident due to a mistake on Trevor’s part finds him fired from the job. As the film proceeds, an unknown tragedy rises to the surface. Tantalizing clues about this event and Trevor’s increasingly dire situation as his paranoia worsens and he lashes out at the people around him makes this film a psychological thriller.  This film demonstrates how our brains can manipulate us even without us consciously realizing.

    the soloist

    The Soloist (2009)

    Director: Joe Wright

    Based on a non-fiction book by Steve Lopez, The Soloist stars Robert Downey Jr. as L.A. Times journalist as the author himself. One day while strolling for stories, Lopez, comes across a homeless street musician sawing away on a two string violin. This musician is Nathaniel Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx. When Ayers, an undiagnosed schizophrenic mentions to Lopez that he is a Julliard dropout, the journalist's mind starts to wonder more and more about him- who is this man and how did he end up in this state? The Soloist chronicles the story of an uneasily developing friendship between a reporter and a homeless schizophrenic musical prodigy. It depicts how the journalist would work on his story without crossing the borders of ethics. In this movie get to see how beautifully Jamie Foxx embraced the challenging role of a schizophrenic. It is a movie which reminds the viewer of the plight of the people who don’t have a shelter above their heads and are mentally and the state of helplessness that they can be reduced to.

    Responses 3

    • Akanksha Patra
      Akanksha Patra   Oct 22, 2017 12:53 PM

      Heena,

      quite a well written article and a stop-everything-and-watch-it-now sort of list, you've compiled! Great work, here.

      I'd simply like to add a few more movies to you list, from personal liking and understanding:

      1. The Silence of the Lambs: is about Clarice Starling, an FBI agent, who seeks help from Hannibal Lecter, a psychopathic serial killer and former psychiatrist, in order to apprehend another serial killer who has been claiming female victims. It is quite an edge-of-the-seat thriller and has various scenes one will rmemeber thereafter. It has a 8.6/10 rating on the IMDb.

      2. A Tale of Two Sisters: is a South Korean thriller that plays with the mind. It has the storyline, "On returning home from a mental health facility, two sisters find that along with their stepmother, they have to find a way to deal with their late mother's ghost who begins to haunt them." It is a must watch and has a 7.3/10 IMDb rating.

      3. 404: error not found: is a Hindi movie, to complete the list. It is one of my favorites and is about a student who starts hallucinating after he moves into a room in which someone committed suicide. It has a 7.2/10 IMDb rating.

    • Sneha Chauhan
      Sneha Chauhan   Sep 08, 2017 09:05 AM

      Hello Heena! A very well written article. You have mentioned all the relevant movies which have discussed the issues of mental health. I must say all of these movies are very loud about their concept yet very quiet about it, which makes them very understandable for the common folks. Take Silver Linings Playbook for an example, they have issued bipolar disorder in the movie and added comedy just to make the audience lighten the situation.

      The portrayal of mental health issues on such platforms is very important. Hollywood has done it from time to time, but Bollywood has not been very loud about them. It's about time Indian media should also dig their minds into it. Indian news channels, newspapers, magazines, and social media has frequently mentioned issues about mental health which is a good step towards the awareness amongst larger population.

      Thank you for this collection Heena! I would definitely watch the ones I have not watched.

  • 28 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    The Emotional Roller-coaster of a Teenage Girl


    Most teen mood

    Every girl dreams of growing up and become independent to do whatever she wants to. At that particular age, it is easier said than done. As they turn thirteen there is an emergence of that transition as they hit puberty. This involves not just biological but psychological changes as well.

    A major issue associated with teenage is the ‘identity crisis’ as termed by psychologist Erik Erikson. At this age, the teenager is confused about their identity. On one hand, they may find themselves running away from their parents in an attempt to become an independent individual. On the other hand, they may cling to their parents for helping them fulfill their needs. For example, a girl plans a get-together with her friends but is reliant on her mother/father to drop her to her friend’s place. It is how psychologically speaking; they are in a dilemma as they are not considered as either a child or an adult. This is a factor which causes emotional conflict among teenaged girls. Also, as the teenage girl undergoes many physical changes it causes utter confusion in her about how to deal with these changes.

    We tend to associate those ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of emotions with the hormonal changes taking place. However, it is not just about the hormonal changes. Researchers have proven that the brain also has a role to play towards psychological changes. There is a development of the pre-frontal cortex in the brain which plays a role. This part of the brain which exerts a calming, rational influence does not fully develop until adulthood. Studies have stated that these emotional blues of teenager can be seen more in girls.

    mood_swings

    The various emotional challenges, a teenage girl goes through can be classified as follows:

    • Self-consciousness: Girls become hypersensitive towards themselves and their surroundings during teenage. This makes them more sensitive towards things like how they are looking or how are they behaving in front of their peers or it can be about, how their current bodily changes are noticed by people around them. A pimple on their face not just spoils the beauty of their face but it also makes her feel conscious of how other people around her will notice the spot on her face. This self-consciousness also comes from the fact she is undergoing physical changes such as the development of breasts, hips etc.
    • Body Image: As teenage girls undergo physical changes due to puberty, they become conscious of their body shape. On top of it, there is media portrayal of females having a zero-size figure being accepted by many in the society. Those with a perfectionist personality and also a low self-esteem, try to emulate these models. This can also lead to abnormal eating habits such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Such eating habits are common the girls of teenage. Some of the warning signs of these disorders include:
    1. Weight changes.
    2. Obsession with food. Using food for comfort as well as for self-punishment.
    3. Hoarding of food.
    4. Binge-eating.
    5. Changes in clothing style such as wearing baggy clothes.
    6. Excessive vomiting due to excessive use of laxatives and diuretics.

     

    • Friendships and Need for Belongingness: At this age, it is common to see many teenagers distancing themselves from their parents and having an increased desire to be with people who are undergoing the same phase. They try and imitate their friends’ way of speaking, the way they dress up for occasions, their behavior etc. In this age, there is an excessive prevalence of peer pressure.  The present teenager is very much aware when it comes to latest fashion accessories as well as latest gadgets. If they see their friend having the latest iPhone, they would demand the same, from their parents.
    • “You should learn from Radhika's mom, she provides so much independence to her”: Teenage girls are often seen comparing their lives with their friend circle. They are often seen blaming their parents as to how they do not provide latest smartphones or any other gadget. Or how they do not let her wear that short skirt or crop top. This also includes the level of independence her friend’s parents have given to her, in terms of going to movies and parties and how their parents have a progressive mindset unlike them.
    • Crushes and Relationships: The sudden rush of feelings when girls see their ‘dream boy’ in front of their eyes. They fall for their looks, behaviour and every other thing about them. Their crush is someone in their class or someone they ran into, or a celebrity. The desire is to be with their ‘special someone’ forever. A simple ‘Hi-Hello’ conversation or a text reply from their crush can overwhelm them with emotions. This is also when people develop infatuations. This happens as they see actors on television and cinema romancing and as they see their peers getting committed; this encourages others as well, to have relationships of that kind. Such relationships do not last for long.
    • Academics: It is something which should be of priority but adding it, in the end, is because of the fact that all the above-mentioned points, teenaged girls have to ensure that they score above 90-95% so as to meet theirs as well as their parents’ expectations. After all, marks are considered as a benchmark for your intelligence and it determines how successful you become in the future.

     For parents, it will be surprising to see how their sweet darling is transforming into a melodramatic, crazy young girl. How can they ensure their teenaged daughter’s healthy development?

     

    • Understanding their viewpoints rather than plainly saying ‘NO’. Let them put their point then patiently asserting their own so that they realize how and where they are required to make the right decision.
    • It may also happen that they just want to vent out their frustrations of a bad day at school, for instance. Let them do so and ask whether they need any help or she can deal with it herself.
    • Providing their daughter conducive environment so that she can easily discuss her concerns such as about her ‘crush.’ These are forbidden practices in our culture which are why she will feel hesitant to share such stuff.
    • Parents need to be patient in dealing with their daughter’s intense emotions and provide knowledge about things like how peer pressures can make her indulge into unhealthy practices like having drugs or alcohol or how relationships involve commitment and not only about liking each other.
    • Encouraging their daughter to participate in extra-curricular activities other than studying. This helps in all-round development of their personality

     

    To those teenaged girls having lots of things going on their heads, don’t worry. Everything is going well. If you are going through various emotional problems, admit it and understand its causes. Seek help from an elder you trust or your parents. You can maintain a diary where you can vent out your emotions easily but be your own self and do what is the right thing at that point in time.

  • 25 Aug
    Reshma Venugopal

    Size Zero? That was so 2006.

     

     

    If you are a fan of watching models stride down a runway on television or the actual show, then you will notice different definitions of beauty. Your definition of beauty may be quite different from someone else's because beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So now let me ask you, what is your definition of a perfect woman? Or a beautiful woman. Don’t worry, nobody will take your choice against you unless you say size zero is beautiful.

    Perhaps that is your requirement for someone to be termed beautiful and perfect. Perhaps having about 0% body fat is what you consider to be beautiful or perhaps beauty stands for curves and little cellulite for you. Everyone is allowed and expected to be who they want to be, or look in a certain way. However, manipulating and pushing someone into thinking that your way and your definition is the right one for beauty, is wrong. That is what went wrong in 2006 when a 22-year-old Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos collapsed on a runway during Uruguayan’s Fashion Week moments after being applauded by spectators; she later died from heart failure (the size zero debate, 2011). It was later diagnosed that the heart failure had been triggered by starvation, as all she survived on was diet coke and lettuce leaves. A few months later, her sister (18) was also found dead due to a similar event; malnutrition and anorexia. Now just imagine what a terrible example is set for girls who look at models as their role models?

    I'm not saying that a size zero woman is not beautiful. There are some very beautiful size zero models, but their beauty is natural. They are naturally smaller, and that is their natural body. However, it is wrong, when models are forced to become size zero, and consequently forced into starvation.

    The fashion industry surely knows the responsibility they have. They set standards which millions of people blindly follow, especially the younger generation. However, there is some good news too! Ladies and gentlemen, we are now proud to announce that size zero, is no longer a “thing” or a trend. If you still are under some doubts about it, then here are some reasons how the size zero trend is almost over.

    The Size Zero Debate

    Due to rise in the number of deaths of model’s due to starvation and disorders such as anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, the fashion industry has decided to make some changes. For example, in 2006 September, Madrid fashion week placed a ban on models with a body mass index lower than 18 which was considered a healthy mass for a woman with the height of 5ft. 6 inches. 

     

    Countries and the size zero ban

    U.K is probably one of the first countries to start the journey of the size zero ban. An initiative was led by actress and model Katie Green, who herself was a victim of the size zero trend. Katie said, in 2011, she worked with an agency for the modeling of Wonderbra. The model, who is 5ft. 10 inches, and weighed 64kgs, which was the ideal weight for her height, was asked to reduce if she wanted more work. They said she was not normal for representing a U.K size 8 for a model. She first agreed, but instantly quit. After a collaboration with a Liberal Democrat, she launched a new campaign for banning size zero.

    Milan and Madrid had also banned the size zero concept right after the death of the model in 2006. This was followed by Italy, as they suspected about 40% of the models had been victims of some eating disorder. Famous designers such as Giorgio Armani and Victoria Beckham had also made tremendous efforts to cut out this deadly fashion trend.

    And what’s the proof?

    From Hollywood to Bollywood, from Jean Paul Gaultier to Vogue and Sports Illustrated, beauty has been redefined. More and more women are becoming confident about their bodies no matter what shape or size they embody. Media which decided to step up and show more curves than bones in its representation of beauty has played a large role in this boost of confidence. One of the most influential people in this matter who has undoubtedly done wonders in this topic is plus size models. With great heights, some beautiful cellulite and lots of curves, these women have redefined beauty in the fashion industry, and have become more relatable to the average working woman who does not really have the time and resources to hire dietitians and gym trainers. With time more and more people are finally accepting this positive change.

    In fact, why look so far away? We have beautiful and curvy women in our very own film and fashion industry too. Take, for example, the beautiful and talented Vidya Balan. From the very beginning, she had refused to listen to the terrible taunts of the media which at that time was so obsessed with having perfect, petite frames for our actresses. Vidya, however, did not let that kind of negativity come in her way. She continued to look the way she wanted, continued doing her work sincerely and most importantly, continued eating her favorite food."Weight issues" have long been the topic of discussion among Bollywood actresses and the media. While some of them decided to get fitter and healthier by reducing their weight and eating right, others continued being the way they are. Now is that not beautiful? To look the way you want to and be comfortable in your skin and alter it when you want to?

    How will this change impact the common man?

    By average man, I mostly mean the viewers and fans and teenagers who look up to models and actresses for inspiration. With a more body positive attitude shown by the women we view and admire, the chances of their viewers to acquire that kind of positivity is higher. This causes a change in the definition of beauty and reduction in eating disorders which are still so prevalent. Eating disorders are psychological conditions that are caused by abnormal or disturbed eating habits (DSM-5). In other words, conditions such as anorexia and bulimia will be occurring lesser among young teenage girls and boys. More women will be more confident with their bodies and not be affected by any kind of negativity.

    To sum up, I would like to share some beautiful curvy women from Hollywood and Bollywood and some of the great ways they have represented curves, cellulite, and beauty together.

    • Ashley Graham: Modeled for Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. She is 5ft. 9inches, and weighs 77kgs. 



    • Kim Kardashian: The famous reality star, designer and fashion mogul stand at 5ft. 3 inches and weighs 66 kgs. She is a fitness freak, and is often found eating healthy and occasionally indulge in some fast food. However, her beauty is known to be her fabulous and ample curves. Please refer to the peach emoji.



    • Vidya Balan: She stands at 5ft. 4inches, with a weight of 60 kgs, which is perfectly acceptable for her height. Now imagine people asked her to reduce her weight more because that’s how ignorant and silly the public can be.




    • Sonakshi Sinha: This beauty stands at 5ft. 6 inches and weighs 60 kgs. She has often been criticized for being “too huge”. But honestly, have you seen her dance? She is as graceful as a swan, and no weight comes in her way!





    • Lastly, a great tribute to Singer Meghan Trainor, the singer of “All about the bass”. The 5ft 4 inches singer who weighs 68 kgs, surely represented curvy and thick women gracefully!


    Of course, the list could go on and on, but that is something for you to do. Don’t forget to go search for these body positive people and their struggle in trying to be themselves and love their bodies. After all, they are all about the bass!

     

    Responses 2

    • Sneha Chauhan
      Sneha Chauhan   Sep 08, 2017 09:21 AM

      I agree with you Reshma. Women should not be judged by other people and themselves on the basis of their weight. As you have mentioned, they can be curvy and thick and yet rule the beauty world. It's not about how small or huge or thin or curvy you are, it's more about how much you love your body and how comfortable you are inside yourself. If that's the thing you can work with, you are beautiful. Do not let the perception of others on how a perfect female body should be, rule over you. What can be more beautiful than happiness.

      That image of size zero perfect body is now gone, very true. But, it has been overtaken by the curvy and thick image of women. Now the attention has shifted from thin women to thick women; which is equally irrelevant. It doesnt matter still. You can be thin, you can be thick, but it will still be your body. You have to respect that.

      Thank you for the great article, Reshma!

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Sep 02, 2017 06:15 PM

      This is a great topic! Thanks for sharing this information. I completely agree with the point you made about standards set by the industry and people blindly following them. Especially for women, they are objectified in every industry on the basis of weight and also, skin colour. This is common in our industry as you gave the examples of Vidya Balan and Sonakshi Sinha.

      It is because of these unnecessary beauty standards set. It is because of these beauty standards that girls have been indulging into eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. But now, it is good to see that things are changing and changing for the good.

      As you gave instances of women who do not have a zero size figure but are still comfortable in their bodies. People should realise that one should be comfortable in one's own body shape, you are born with it. But this does not mean that they should indulge in unhealthy eating habits and be lazy. It means having a healthy diet and being happy always.

       

  • 22 Aug
    Shruti Gupta Delhi

    Masturbation - Myths and facts you didn't know existed

    India is a land of more taboos and less knowledge, especially when it comes to knowledge related to sex. That is why, before I even begin writing this article, I would like to put forth a disclaimer. The article revolves around the sexual activity called masturbation. Although many of the readers might have already assumed this to be a dirty one, I would like to clarify that it will be in no manner obscene or vulgar.

    The term masturbation refers the act of stimulating one’s genitals for sexual arousal or pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm.

    Even though the term masturbation is not as old, the concept, however, can be traced back to the eighteenth century and earlier. There have been depictions of male and female masturbation in the paintings in the prehistoric era.  Even though the origination of the concept is unknown, the concept of masturbation was familiar to the Sumerian residents, along with the residents of ancient Egypt and Greek, without the taboos. The pieces of evidence for the same can be traced from the prehistoric paintings and artwork, not only in the West but also in India. The temple reliefs in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh have sculptures and artworks portraying the same. The more forward we moved in time, the more backward our mentality tended to be.

    khajuraho temple

    However, with the passage of time, masturbation became synonymous with terms like self-pollution and abomination. People strongly revolted this view and many came forward supporting the same, yet the stigma still prevails. The more the knowledge related to the concept grew among people, the more hateful it turned out to be.

    Considered as a sin and a heinous crime among many religions, many rumors came to be flown amidst the air of revolution.

     

    1. It is related to mental illness:
      Contrary to a common myth, that masturbation can cause an individual to go insane, it is, in fact, a biological activity only, and can only benefit your mental health. For masturbation is known to have reduced stress, help you sleep better and improve your self-esteem and body image. Therefore, there is certainly no harm that masturbation will or can do to your mental health.


    2. Women don’t masturbate
      Women are as sexual beings as men, which implies the possibility of them having sexual desires as well. Hence, women do masturbate. Only they are not much vocal about it due to the stigma attached to it. Studies revealed that although men masturbate more frequently than women do, about 58% of women admitted masturbating regularly.


    3. Masturbating while you are in a relationship is immoral:
      It has been noted that people who masturbate while in a relationship are often judged and inferred to be sexually dissatisfied with their partner. However, it is completely normal to masturbate irrespective of whether one is in a relationship or not. It is through masturbation that people embrace their own sexuality and become more aware of it, and conveying it to their partner can result in a healthier sex life. Being in a relationship does not, therefore, imply that masturbation is wrong.

    4. It is biologically harmful to an individual
      It has been believed that masturbating can cause biological disorders like prostate cancer (in men) or cause the genitals to shrink. Many people also believe that masturbation frequently can sexually use you up and reduce your potency. While all of it is nothing but a mere lie, excessive masturbation, which deviates one from following the normal routine of work, catching up with friends, etc. can cause one to seek a therapist, as that can sure be harmful.


    5. There is no one who doesn’t masturbate:
      A common belief that everybody masturbates but no one admits it, is, in fact, a lie. Just the way there exist people who masturbate to satisfy themselves sexually, there also exist people who don’t, which is just as normal. If for instance, there are 98% people who masturbate, there also exist that 2 % who don't. The point here is that masturbation is not that big of a deal that should be stigmatized to an extent that people are afraid to be vocal about it.


    To combat the myths, we do have some interesting facts about masturbation that will amuse you:

     

    • 28 May is celebrated as National Masturbation Day to celebrate the and protect the right to masturbate. The celebration now has been expanded throughout the month, and May is now known as the month of masturbation.
    • Countries like the U.K. encourage their teenage population to masturbate to prevent their youth from engaging in risky sexual behaviors and STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
    • Animals like squirrels, walruses, and even apes have been found to masturbate. So, whoever says it’s not that common, is probably, unaware?
    • In 1897, Mark Twain gave a lecture in Paris criticising anyone who thought that masturbation was bad, in a comic way. He satirically ridiculed those who supported the anti-masturbation movement prevalent at that time.
    “Of all the various kinds of sexual intercourse, this has the least to recommend it. As an amusement it is too fleeting; as an occupation it is too wearing; as a public exhibition there is no money in it. It is unsuited to the drawing room, and in the most cultured society it has long since been banished from the social board…"
    • About 1000 people strangle themselves to death while masturbating due to the act of autoerotic asphyxiation. Asphyxiation occurs when the supply of oxygen to the brain is cut down. There is a euphoric high that people feel just before they are about to die. To experience this ‘high’, people have known to strangle themselves in order to take their sexual pleasure to another level, leading to deaths.

     

    There have been instances of people feeling guilty after they masturbate. While these feelings are generally associated with the stigma attached, some people attach these emotions with morality in the religious context, and many because they had been told during their childhood that it was wrong. According to a survey, people admit that even though they enjoy the pleasure that they receive after masturbating, the feelings of guilt overpower their pleasure.

    It is important to know that masturbation isn’t bad, nor is it unhealthy. People of all ages and sexual orientation masturbate. Yes, you read that right. People with asexual orientation masturbate too, although the nature of their masturbation is usually different from that of those who are not asexual. So, there is nothing to feel guilty about at all. Masturbation is said to have reduced stress among individuals and is noted to be extremely beneficial, not only mentally but physically as well.

    However, an excess of anything has never made things better. If masturbation interferes in your daily schedule or work, you might need to consult a therapist. While masturbating frequently can do no harm to you, doing it excessively can cause you to have psychological disorders like pedophilia, exhibitionism, fetishes, etc.

  • 18 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    The hype about anonymity - Sarahah

     

     

     

    technology_46_696x392

    The internet, especially the social media can be blamed for creating everything out of nothing. Such is the hype created around a few websites which provide you with anonymous feedbacks.

    There is an ongoing trend of anonymous feedback applications like sayat.me and sarahah.com which enables people to post feedbacks for others anonymously. People these days are seen sharing the links to their Sayat and Sarahah profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat so that they could receive anonymous feedbacks about themselves. It has been noticed that people prefer and pay more attention to the qualities posted about them rather than criticism, because who wants people to criticise them anyway, especially from people they don’t even know. The irony here is that even those people who initially claimed that they did not care what other people think of them, that they are confident of themselves and do not seek social validation, end up creating their profiles for the same reasons mentioned above.   

     

    logo of Sarahah

     

    Sarahah, the most trending application in today's date, can be considered as a medium towards gaining social validation by teenagers and young adults. But why were these apps developed in the first place?
    Sarahah was developed by an Arabic engineer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. The term 'Sarahah' is an Arabic word which translates to 'frankness' or 'honesty'.  He had initially developed the application for office employees so that they can send messages anonymously to another person regarding their strength and weaknesses. The intention behind the 'anonymity feature' was for individuals to speak what they wish without being hesitant, and also to decrease the chances of an individual holding a grudge against the sender of the message. However, he later decided to expand his business and hence made the application available to all. Tawfiq talked about his intention to provide people with a ‘constructive feedback’ about themselves but ironically, the feedbacks that people receive often lack the 'constructivism' aspect in it.

     

    logo of Sayat.me

     

    The team of both Sarahah and Sayat suggested an honest and positive approach in giving an opinion about others.

    “ Honest feedback helps you find out how your own self-image differs from what others want to see in you. If you’re lucky you may just as well be confirmed that others think you are the person you strive to be.” 

    I  might agree on the possibility of the feedbacks being ‘honest’ but I don’t believe them to be ‘constructive’ at all. Many people have known to receive love confessions including pieces of poetry for the other person about their beauty in the form of 'feedbacks'.  Because of its anonymity feature, there is hardly any chance for the sender being caught. Even though Sarahah provides the user with the option to block such spammers, one cannot help their malicious intent.

    Recently, a nasty experience was recorded by an engineering student in Chennai who was a Sarahah user:

    "All sorts of messages started flooding in, such as, "You're pretty", "I want to meet you', these were really funny posts. It was great until a message showed up asking what my cup size is, and this anonymous person wanted to sleep with me. I was furious."

    An avid blogger brought up the issue of people's obsession with negative comments and how it can bring down one's level of self-esteem. 

    "I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for an account. I knew people wouldn't hold back. After all, how hard is it to say awful things when you're hiding behind internet anonymity? What I didn't expect was my obsession with the negative comments." 

    The writer stated his own experience of using the application. He wrote that initially, he got quite good comments about himself such as 'you work hard and I respect you'. But as he went on using this app, he began to get comments such as 'your presence as a friend is disingenuous'. He actually ended up texting his friends asking whether he was 'a terrible friend'. Even though everyone denied it, he realized that such statements could actually turn out to be disastrous for someone with a low self-esteem.

    After having gone through various anonymous messages which lose their anonymity (as they are posted on social media profiles), this is how people actually use this app:

    1. These sites are another way of gaining attention for both, the sender and the receiver. Just as people post the pictures of the places they have been to, they post the messages on their profile.
    2. The anonymous feedback game has been turned into a ‘guess-who-I-am’ game. 
    3. Not everyone gets feedback about themselves. It depends on whether your friends on social media know you well enough. Through posting those feedbacks, people get to know how much you are liked by others. 

     

    Coming back to the hype this application has created. When people saw others using apps like Facebook or Instagram, they complied and followed it. Similarly, when people saw everyone using the application, they also thought of giving it a try. This is a perfect example of the 'bandwagon effect', a psychological phenomenon wherein people are engaged in something primarily because others are doing it, regardless of what their own beliefs are, which they may ignore or overlook. This has clearly emerged due to social media. As far as the negative use of Sarahah is concerned, it is up to the individual how s/he uses it.

    The way people use Sarahah, there are certain messages which are better conveyed personally, and not through the social media. Such applications further destroy the essence of face to face and honest communications which have already been done by other social media applications. So, let us meet up and say it to them. Let us meet each other and provide 'constructive feedback', for that would give our conversations 'real' meaning through 'real' people.

    Responses 1

    • Ayushi Jolly
      Ayushi Jolly   Sep 03, 2017 01:31 PM

      Hey! You have written a really nice article.

      I agree how things have taken a toll towards social validation lately. It is so disappointing to see how things are going so shallow with realtionships going viral. We see how these websites are bringing in fresh concepts about anonymity and how we can describe others without even revealing our identity.It is wrongful in a way to see how things are going out of control. We,as sensible humans,once have lost the confidence to even speak our feelings to someone. We are afraid of even texting or telling our feelings,if not directly,in person so at least through some media platform to someone and we choose these forums to convey them. To look at things from the other side is even worse. Those who are creating accounts and getting good reviews are fine but what about those who are extremely high on social validation and do not get good or any review. I am afraid what psychological impact will that have.Alos,for those who do not post good memories or posts for others,does that not bring back old,forgotten bad thoughts na dinstances and makes the perosn feel bad? It is really nice to see how you have come up with such a topic.