Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Do You Have The Singleton Gene?

                          Do You Have The Singleton Gene
Eternally single? Perhaps you have the singleton gene. Or maybe you need to seek some answers within before you seek out your partner, says Dr Sonera Jhaveri, Consultant Integral Psyche Therapist attached to the Nanavati Group of Hospitals.

You’ve met your perfect match. Someone who makes you laugh, shares your dreams and hopes, interests and goals...someone who could possibly be a potential partner in future. And yet, when it comes to making a long-term commitment, you back off and run without looking back.

If this is a pattern in your life too, then you probably have the singleton gene to blame. Is it possible that your interest in socialising with a person of the opposite sex, and your ability to commit to a relationship is determined by genes? Experts have debated this topic extensively. “Yes, to a certain extent, our social behaviour and interest in socialising is determined by our genes. Human temperamental factors, like our need to seek new or novel things, and our dependence on rewards, actually motivate people to form relationships and maintain them. And these, research has proved, are determined by your genes. People with certain psychiatric conditions like schizoid personality and borderline personality disorder are known to have frequent relationship problems, and these disorders are known to have a genetic basis,” says one expert.

But, to claim that one’s DNA or genes are solely responsible for our relationship status would not be accurate, feels Dr Sonera Jhaveri. “Socio-cultural and psycho-emotional elements play a very important role in informing one’s sense of self and others,” she says. There are other factors such as developmental trauma, and individual attachment styles that influence one's connections to others. “But if a person has schizoid and narcissistic features, chances of the person developing or sustaining a long-term relationship are low,” she admits.

So, eventually, it boils down to the age-old conundrum of Nature Vs Nurture—the subject of intense research across the globe. “Some studies suggest certain behaviours like novelty-seeking have around 9-10 percent inheritability, while certain eccentricities associated with schizophrenia have around 40-50 per cent chances of being inherited by future generations,” points out yet another expert. This means, genes do play an important role in determining at least your desire to be in a relationship. “However, evolution is a very complex phenomenon and is not driven solely by the genetic factor. So, one should be careful not to take a biologically reductive approach in understanding human behaviour,” says Dr Sonera Jhaveri.

For instance, your upbringing, social and family circle, relationships of people around you, the kind of childhood you had, your dreams and aspirations, long term goals, all of these play an important role, in addition to your genes, in determining whether you will remain eternally single, or will go forth and find your mate.

But, before you begin to despair and wonder if you are a ‘carrier’ of the eternally ‘singleton’ gene, here’s some good news. Psychiatrists aver that it’s possible for all individuals to have healthy social relationships. Modern psychiatry has done a lot of progress over the years, and today there are newer and better psychotherapies, counselling techniques and newer medicines, which change pathological behaviour and decrease the commitment phobia, helping individuals with a problem to form healthy and long-lasting relationships.

Agrees Dr Sonera Jhaveri, “Yes, it is possible for people with whatever attachment style or genetic makeup to be able to get over their fear of intimacy. Of course, this does not happen automatically. Individuals who are commitment-shy are often very defensive and also sometimes lacking in interpersonal skills, and may therefore need therapeutic attention. “A healing relationship with a professional psychiatrist/confidant can help the individual let go of the defenses that block intimacy and connection. Often, children who were brought up in abusive households have issues with bonding as they don't feel safe in intimate situations. This is because their trust was broken by an abusive parent, who was actually supposed to be caring for them,” says Dr Sonera Jhaveri.
While the debate and the controversy rage on as far as the existence of the 'singleton gene' is concerned, it is a fact that a combination of genetic makeup and outside factors does affect an individual’s personality, which in turn determines whether they will pursue and commit to a relationship or not. So, if you are single, blame the singleton gene, but at the same time, delve into your mind, try to find out the kinks in your personality and surroundings that make you wary of relationships. Eliminate them and you will find your soul mate waiting just around the corner.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Sonera a psychotherapist in Mumbai, Psyche Therapist, Psychotherapy in Mumbai: Understanding the Different Types of Stress

Sonera a psychotherapist in Mumbai, Psyche Therapist, Psychotherapy in Mumbai: Understanding the Different Types of Stress: What is Stress ? Stress is a ubiquitous and multilayered phenomenon that is an entrenched reality of our daily postmodern lives. In ef...

Understanding the Different Types of Stress

What is Stress?

Stress is a ubiquitous and multilayered phenomenon that is an entrenched reality of our daily postmodern lives. In effect, the stress response has played a significant role in the evolution of our nervous system and was crucial for our survival on this planet.  As hunter gathers we experienced acute stress when there were life-threatening perils from the environment confronting us for e.g. a wild animal that crossed the path of our foraging ancestors. In such instances, the human body would mobilize itself defensively and activate the autonomic nervous system to a fight, flight or freeze response to meet the demands of the situation.

When an organism is stressed and in either fight of flight mode, there are profound alterations due to the enervation of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Noticeable psychophysiological shifts take place such as an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle tension, sweat activity in conjunction with a cascade of neuro-endocrinological alterations.  The adrenal-hypothalamus- pituitary axis gets activated and there are rapid secretions of the stress hormone cortisol along with blood moving from the periphery of the body i.e. the limbs to the core i.e. to the heart and lungs.

These psychosomatic shifts allow the organism to speed up the action that needed to be taken, which in most cases was either confrontation or agitated escape. However, in freeze mode, which occurs in profound experiences of trauma, the parasympathetic nervous, system dominates and the body drops in pressure, temperature, and mobility simulating a corpse. From an evolutionary perspective, the freeze mode was useful as on occasion predators may loose interest if the prey is already dead.
According to one of the pioneers in stress research Hans Seyle, upto a certain point stress is beneficial as it helps us take effective action when facing challenging conditions and this can be understood as “eu-stress.” As such, the stress response to a particular point helps us become focused and efficient and enables us to get things done while simultaneously it protects us from negative consequences that might pertain to our survival.  Yet there is a certain threshold value to stress and beyond that stress starts becoming “di-stress” and it starts pathologically eroding and wearing and tearing down our cardiac-respiratory, immune, gastrointestinal and muscular-skeleton systems.

Stress becomes di-stress when the stress response is provoked chronically, which is, unfortunately the zeitgeist of our times.  Today acute stress is replaced by chronic stress, where a biological threat is now a psychological one.  We react to not finding a parking spot before an important meeting in the same way our ancestors reacted to encountering an avalanche near a mountain that might crush them. Our bodies have not caught up with the evolutionary shifts in our life style and so in a nutshell, our bodies are over reacting to the mundane pressures and irritants of every day living.

Due to a revolution in our material culture, life is now becoming faster and faster . . . we have faster computers, faster cars, faster communications and often our bodies lag behind and we have to whip ourselves to keep up our pace, to perform, to meet deadlines and to make money.  As a result, our default existential state is that of an incessant low-grade activation of the autonomic nervous system, which keeps the body and mind latently stressed.

In busy urban areas, especially, we are almost all the time normalized to being unconsciously stressed to the point that we do not realize that we are stressed. This psychologically predisposes us to depression, irritation, frustration, mood swings, and angry outbursts, all of which underscore psychoemotional disturbances. Simultaneously we are prone to worsening any pre-existing medical disorder and susceptible to creating the causes and circumstances for diseases to take root in our bodyminds, highlighting psychosomatic over drive. Diabetes, hypertension, colitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, eczema and ulcers are a few stress related conditions.

How Do We Know We Are Stressed?
Since stress is an integral part of our lives, learning how to identify when we are stressed and what to do about de-stressing ourselves becomes paramount for our psychophysiological health and well being. Stress is a polyvalent experience and has cognitive behaviour therapy, emotional, physiological and behavioral ramifications.

Below is a brief exegesis of some of the symptoms that manifest in us in relation to each category within which our stress response can be observed. It is important to recognize if any of these are being embodied in our own experience in order to assess how stressed one is and moreover, the ways in which we create stress for ourselves through our perceptions. Regarding a demand from the environment as either a threat or a challenge depends very much on our sense of  self esteem and feelings of being resourced and resilient.

Cognitive dimensions: ruminating repetitive thoughts that are automatic and pessimistic; negative interpretations of life events; and a predisposition to play the victim.
Emotional dimensions: feelings of anxiety, panic, irritability, agitation, frustration, jitteriness, anger, impatience, overwhelm, being out of control
Physical dimensions: changes in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle tension, sweat activity, body temperature, fatigue, migraines, stomach aches, palpitations
Behavioral dimensions: lack of exercise, eating excessively, indulging in unhealthy foods, smoking, drinking, abusing drugs, unnecessary shopping

Some Useful Guidelines to Regulate Stress:
      While we cannot prevent stress in our lives, we can definitely shift our emotional reactions to stress. In order to modify how we are oriented to overwhelming life events it is quintessential to make life style changes that allow us to slow down and relax. Some suggestions to safe guard ourselves from being chronically stressed are the following: 
1)   Mediation, yoga, tai chi, qui gong
2)   Physical exercise
3)   Spending time in nature
4)   Healthy nutrition
5)   Listening to music and appreciating the arts in general
6)   Meditation and yoga
7)   Enjoying conviviality with family and friends
8)   Going on holiday
9)   Sleeping a full eight hours
10)   Having a massage
11)   Adopting a pet such as dog, cat, hamster, even having an aquarium
12)   Working with a mental health professional to see your patterns of stress, how you perpetuate them and ultimately to dis-identify with them

 Contributed by: Sonera Jhaveri

Sonera is an integral psyche therapist who specializes in working with generalized anxiety disorders, depression and mood disorders, anger management, stress reduction, issues of low self esteem, eating disorders, marital discord, chemical dependency and addictions.