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Access to Filipino troubled psyche gained

Mang Pablo, a 62-year-old proprietor of a hardware store in Infanta town, Quezon province had the drive, the money savvy and the hopes a-soar that his business—including the Calabarzon region where he plied his trade—will take the high gear to prosperity. He was brimming with such an attitude back in 2008… until depression hit him. 

He just lost steam. He was looked up to as a community leader but he for no reason lost his touch, his lust for life. Now he says it’s no use to overexert because he’ll just lose it all. He took to drink, ran into problems with his wife and their children. So what ate him?
In another case that Dr. June Caridad P. Lopez cites before the plenary session of the Philippine Psychiatric Association’s midyear convention, a gaggle of company employees and their families went on an outing in Puerto Galera. At sea, their boat capsized—four women and a child died as a result. The survivors will have to cope after that mind-wrenching tragedy. How?

It takes mental toughness, grit and firm grace to rebound, to move on or stand one’s ground to the adversities and idiosyncrasies of life—which is what the convention took as theme, “Tibay, Tapang at Tatag: Pagharap ng Pinoy sa mga Hamon ng Buhay.”

In her keynote address, Dr. Lopez pointed to two mechanisms—impact and ease— on which the Filipino psyche comes to grips with, and at the struggle’s finale, a coming to terms toward healing.

How local shrinks earn their pay is amiss in the sweep of mounting challenges. But “we need to show the importance and effectiveness of our means—that it fits in with the culture in which we operate and that it must be effective in the shortest time possible,” she stresses in Tagalog.

In the past five decades, healing the sick psyche via psychiatry took anywhere from 5-10 years. These days, psychiatrists have begun showing their skills to bring treatment in a few months, “even a few weeks,” she notes.

It takes a Filipino mind-set to grasp the unique Filipino psyche, she avers as she cites that  “a larger part of her practice had been among those victims and victors emergent from crises and calamities, and I needed to understand how these affect the Filipino, by himself or as part of a community.”

You can only give what you have—healer has to be healed before he can heal. And during the dark days of the martial law regime, Dr. Lopez confesses that she, too, had to rescue herself from “rage, from dread and lack of courage that plagued the populace then.

“And what I can do is to lend strength to the weakened through my skills, my know-how and competencies engendered by keeping an open mind and the daring to transcend the walls that western education has hemmed us in,” she adds.

Dr. Lopez posits that Filipino values, behavior and personality are shaped in the lathe of both negative and positive experiences. Negative experiences nudge the individual to leave or dump one’s viewpoint. 

Experiences that cause positive impact are cherished and adopted as basis for the individual’s decisions.

Of equal significance in how impact shapes the individual, she adds, is how the Filipino views his well-being, with its manifold aspects— (1) the individual within himself or his inner feelings, (2) interaction with others, (3) relevance and (4) capacity or competence.

“How did an experience affect their feeling and thinking? Next, I ask them to ponder the change in how they interact with others and the environs. As for relevance, how did they grasp the experience and what was its significance in their lives. I will have to see how they gain strength, for themselves or for others. I have called these as ‘Life Cycles,’” she explains.

There is no other career that allows us to gain entry into the inmost recesses of the mind and the heart of a human being, “who has reposed trust in us, allowing us to enter their lives.

“Indeed, we are fortunate in this profession that affords the opportunities to further study and enhance our growth as humans in service of others,” she muses.


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