Tuesday, April 25, 2006


From the book, Kamath Sutra - The Owner's Manual for the Stressed Mind, by Dr K P S Kamath.

1.1: Stress means getting upset about something; peace and tranquility of mind are gone.

[Let us take a simple example: Imagine you have just lost your wallet along with its contents: money, credit cards, driver’s license, etc. You would be upset, won’t you? You are now stressed. In the course of life we become upset over thousands of small and big events and problems: death of loved one; breakup of relationship, betrayal of confidence, family problem, and the like. If it is not one thing it is another. These bad events and problems upset us and destroy our peace and tranquility of mind.]

1.2 Actual loss or fear of loss of sense objects is at the root of all stress.

[Sense objects are those things we perceive by means of our five senses. They are two kinds: tangible things such as people (relatives and friends); money and various materials we buy with it (house, car, gold, food and drinks); and intangible things we cherish in life such as love, power, position, status, honor, security, liberty, etc.
Our emotional attachment to these sense objects predisposes us to the pain of loss. More attached we are to these more we suffer when we lose them or fear losing them. When we lose these objects, we suffer grief. When we are afraid of losing these, we suffer anticipatory grief. That is why people with less attachment to sense objects experience less stress whereas people excessively attached to and possessive of sense objects suffer more stress.]

1.3: The only two causes of stress are bad life-events and bad life-problems.

[Bad life-events are one-shot painful events in which we have actually lost one or more sense objects. Death of a loved one; break up of a relationship; accident; betrayal of trust; being assaulted verbally or physically, etc. are some examples of bad events. Most, but not all, bad life-events are beyond our control. However, sometimes bad events are our own creation. An intoxicated man getting into a serious car accident is an example.
Bad life-problems are those which upset us a little bit at a time, day after day, week after week and month after month. In bad life-problems we are afraid of losing one or more sense objects and we experiences a threat related to one or more spheres of life: family, marriage, relationship, job, health, finances, etc. These problems are considered bad because they are extremely difficult to solve and one feels trapped in them. Bad life-problems are mostly our own creations. Problems at work due to tardiness; marital problems due to selfishness; relationship problem due to controlling behavior and chronic

health problems due to bad habits are some examples. We often find one or more of personality weaknesses such as insecurity, greed and jealousy underlying all bad life-problems.]

1.4: When upset we experience one or more of thirty five painful and potentially toxic emotions: Fear, hurt, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, disappointment, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, humiliation, hate, bitterness, resentment, envy, jealousy, terror, horror, disgust, embarrassment, rage, exasperation, insecurity, despair, dejection, remorse, regret, worthlessness, hostility, vengefulness, dread, sinfulness, sorrow, despondency and uselessness.

[Most of us experience these emotions sometime in our life. Some experience many of them all at once in response to tragic death of a loved one or discovery of spousal affair. These emotions are all connected to one another like links in a chain. They have a tendency to cascade. For example, hurt could cascade into anger, rage, hate and vengefulness. Pain in the brain is the foundation of all stress.
In small to moderate doses painful emotions stimulate emotional growth and maturity just as a small dose of fertilizer helps an indoor plant to thrive. In large doses, however, these painful emotions are toxic to brain no different than a cup of fertilizer is toxic to a plant. People, like over-fertilized plants, wilt when overdosed with toxic emotions. When we refer to certain people as toxic, we mean they upset us a lot.]

1.5: It is the presence of these toxic, painful emotions in the brain that alters brain chemicals resulting in various physical, emotional, mental and behavioral stress symptoms.

[The mind is the function of the brain. Brain is intimately connected to all body organs via circulating hormones and a vast network of nerves. When stressed, painful emotions bring about chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes send messages to various body organs resulting in stress symptoms. In other words, we experience stress in the form of symptoms. Some common stress symptoms we experience on daily basis are: irritability, sleeplessness, sleepiness, anxiety, tension, depression, headache, tiredness, poor concentration, worrying, loss of appetite, thumping of heart, tightness of chest, sweating, and many more. If painful emotions are somehow gotten rid of from mind, brain chemicals go back to their normal state and stress symptoms also go away.]

1.6: Severity of stress symptoms depends upon the number and intensity of painful emotions in the mind.

[A woman would be very much more upset if she discovered her husband’s extramarital affair than if he forgot her birthday. In the former case, she might experience many of the above listed painful emotions with great intensity. In the latter case, she might experience only a few painful emotions with low intensity: crying, irritability, etc.]

1.7: Stress leads to wisdom in some and stress-related disorder in others.

[Stress is the main sources of knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the correct understanding of the nature of people and other sense objects we deal with on daily basis. Wisdom is appropriate response to life’s events and problems based on knowledge and life experiences. It is said that good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment. Life without stress is meaningless. Another name for paradise is boredom.
Excessive stress combined with inappropriate coping leads to stress-related physical (high blood pressure, obesity, etc.) and emotional (depressive and anxiety) disorders.]

1.8: Everyone responds differently to the same stressor due to differences in genetics, temperament, perceptions, depth of attachment to sense objects and prior experience.

[No two people respond alike to the same loss or threat of loss due to factors listed above. In fact the same person might respond differently to the same stressor at a later date. He might not get upset at all if he became wiser by the experience; or he might get more upset by it if he was traumatized and sensitized by it. All depends on how one dealt with the stressor when it occurred.]

1.9: Seven personality weaknesses of mankind create serious stress: greed, lust, jealousy, arrogance, possessiveness, hate and insecurity.

[It goes without saying that various common human weaknesses listed above negatively affect one’s behavior resulting in serious consequences to himself and to people around him. For example, greed often impairs one’s judgment leading to stress-producing stupid behavior. Arrogance earns one unnecessary enemies. Possessiveness of relatives and friends results in controlling behavior and conflicts.
Moral values and noble virtues counter the influence of these human weaknesses. The Ten Commandments are moral values all Christians are supposed to follow. Cultivating codes of conduct to cancel-out these personality weaknesses greatly reduces chances of bad life-problems.]

1.10: Three ways to deal with stress are: coping, managing and developing immunity to it.

[Coping with stress simply means getting rid of painful emotions from mind. Managing stress means cultivating a wisdom-based lifestyle that minimizes or prevents occurrence of bad life-events and life-problems which bring on stress. Immunity to stress is achieved by cultivating a steady state of mind which does not get upset in the face of stressors. To achieve these three goals, one must understand how the mind works.]

One of the reasons I love the internet is that it gives everyone a voice ! This blog allows me to become a micro-publisher, and I am very pleased to be able to publish the chapters from the book, Kamath Sutra - The Owner's Manual for the Stressed Mind, by my good friend, Dr K P S Kamath. Not only is he a wise psychiatrist, he also has a knack of playing with words to get some complex ideas across very clearly. Stay tuned, as the book unfolds on this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Very interesting post. I'm looking forward to watching it "unfold."

    Thank you.


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