Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Vaccines from my lab to build mental immunity

By | Prabodh Sirur | Vice President – HR at Manipal Technologies Ltd

Recently I read an informative book – Manakallol (turbulence in our mind), written by Achyut Godbole and Neelambari Joshi.

The author duo has collated huge bits of information on psychological disorders; … the chronology of the medical journey, … scientists who devoted their lives to identify/ classify the disorders and to discover medicines to cure these illnesses … details of movies based on each of these disorders …. celebrities who suffered from mental illnesses.

Interesting read.

I got to know some 180+ types of disorders. It was a frightful experience. Based on the whole lot of symptoms I read in the book, I have a feeling that I am suffering from at least 100 of these disorders!

The book has been weighing heavy on my mind since then; it prompted me to read more about mental health and wellbeing.

Want to share some of the thoughts that triggered in my mind.

We do annual physical health check-up. Shouldn’t we do an annual mental health checkup too? Do we have facilities to do such a check-up? Do organisations offer this facility to employees? Should they not?

We fall sick when our physical immune system is low. I am sure the same applies to mental illnesses.

Our body is constantly building an army of fighter-cells to fight physical diseases. We eat nutritious food, some of which, I am sure, is diverted for the health of this army. We take vitamins to improve the health of these small brave fellows. We take vaccines to train them to strategize and win battles against different types of enemies.

Do we have a similar scenario to fight the attackers on our mind?

I found a whole lot of sites that give details of the food to eat and the exercises one should do to build one’s mental immune system.

Something I liked the most was REBT (Rational emotive behaviour therapy) by Albert Ellis (1956), that aims at helping people in “un-upsetting”/ empowering them to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. I liked Plutchik’s wheel of emotions.

I also remembered what we were taught in school about the six enemies of our soul viz. lust, anger, greed, arrogance, attachment and jealousy.

Now to the topic of vaccines, those vaccines that provide hands-on training to our army to fight the germs that attack our mind, the clouds that make us feel lonely, the viruses that make us feel inadequate or those who feast on our self-esteem.

Please be aware, this advice is not scientific; … only a flight of my imagination.

Let me start with the first vaccine – Wives screaming at the clumsiness of their husbands. Are we thankful for this daily dose? Shouldn’t we appreciate that they are preparing us for a better tomorrow?

A couple of more vaccines from the family front – Our child ‘embarrasses’ us in front of visitors. We are traumatised by what she did. Shouldn’t we hug her for the small dose of trauma she supplied to us to build our emotional immunity? A friend does not return our call. Shouldn’t we send him a thank you SMS for the trauma of rejection he caused to prepare us to face much higher rejections in life?

A vaccine from our worklife – The boss insults in front of colleagues. Shouldn’t we plant a kiss on his forehead and say thank you for denting our confidence but immunizing us, at the same time?

An outdoor vaccine – When we see a pothole on the road and want to swear at the government machinery (we must surely do it to clear our lungs); but let’s do it with a full awareness that these potholes are designed mainly to build immunity in us.

However, I encourage my friends to avoid vaccinating others; for example, don’t be rude to the people who work for you to improve their mental immune system; they are busy making you successful. Find some better ways.

I stop here to allow you to share something from your labs.

Thanks, Achyut and Neelambari for creating an opportunity to learn.

Oh, let me go now and complete the task I promised myself I will do today; finding a nice photograph of a politician to keep in my pocket. They are my masters. Their thick-skins are known to the world for centuries but the we commoners never made productive use of this knowledge.


Let me write something about impressionism, the art movement that challenged the status quo and showed a great streak of innovation.

This is ‘Wheat field with Cypresses‘.

This post-impressionist painting was painted by the Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh in 1889 a year before he killed himself at the age of 37.

Have a look at the painting. Everything around the Cypress trees is in turmoil. The clouds are rushing in the background, the wheat field is trembling in the wind, even the mountains seem to be moving; but the Cypresses are standing erect in the midst of the turbulence.

I feel the Cypresses represent the unbending spirit of the human being.

Van Gogh was in a mental asylum when he created this painting. Yet he could paint this, as a salute to man’s spirit.

Originally published by Prabodh @ LinkedIn


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