Srinagar: Aggressiveness, untamed anger, depression, suicidal tendencies and resistance to curbs are common among the youth who live in areas where pro-freedom sentiment is strong and expressed often in both peaceful and not-so-peaceful means. Psychiatrists call it Siege Mentality and Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, has regularly been receiving the sufferers of this condition.
A majority of the victims, mostly young boys and men in the 16-30 age group, hail from of old areas of Srinagar and the defiant pro-freedom stronghold of Palhalan in Baramulla district.
Siege Mentality, according to noted psychiatrist Dr Arshad Hussain, is a shared state of mind which makes a group of people that they are being constantly watched, tested, oppressed or isolated by an authority or authoritative structures.
“Such people therefore develop black and white thinking, trust deficit, deep feeling of disparity and a strong sense of social bonding,” he said, adding the hospital receives 40 people who exhibit this behaviour.
“This behaviour is triggered and exacerbated by frequent curbs, curfews and restrictions,” Dr Arshad adds.
Dr Arshad’s colleague and head department of the psychiatric diseases hospital Dr Mushtaq Maqbool says Siege Mentality is prevalent among sportsmen, businessmen and soldiers.
But it becomes a cause for concern when it grips a group of people.
“Such mentality is known to trigger inward and outward anger responses. Inward anger leads to suicidal tendencies, irritable behaviour, anxiety, helplessness and depression while outward anger often compels the population to cut loose, forcing them to revolt against the authoritative structures. One can say the frequent stone pelting in these twin localities is an outward anger response mainly stemming from Siege Mentality,” said Dr Maqbool.
The silver lining is that since the Siege Mentality cements social bonding, this condition has not led to an alarming situation.
“Some of my patients suffering from Siege Mentality are able to cope with this condition only because of their community’s support,” Dr Arshad said.
Both old Srinagar areas and Palhallan are home to traditionally interactive and cohesive populaces, unlike those dwelling in new residential clusters.
“If this Siege Mentality arises in any other neighbourhood, it would trigger some serious mental ramifications there,” the doctor said.
The phenomenon of Siege Mentality has been widely documented in Apartheid South Africa, communist Russia and Albania.