A 65-year-old lady, Mak Cik, comes to see me. She is perplexed, not sure how to start. I ask her about her family. Her husband, Pak Cik, is retired, in his 70s, still actively doing a property broker job.
Mak Cik is a housewife but not so active now. She keeps herself occupied doing house chores. For most of her time, she learns religion at madrassah and spends most of her time praying and fasting.
She is annoyed with the Pak Cik for not behaving like an elderly man. To her imagination, an elderly man should spend most of his time preparing for his afterlife. To her, the property broker has its own risk of bankruptcy and is seen as a risky business.
She is offended toward her eldest daughter who is marrying a Swiss and not obeying strict religious obligations and fails to educate her Muslim’s reverted husband on the proper conduct of a Muslim.
She is also preoccupied with another son who is a transgender and suffered from Bipolar Mood disorder.
Managing different perspectives in life is a difficult task. It seems that Pak Cik and Mak Cik do not share the same values and assumptions. For Mak Cik elderly period is a time to ponder, reflect and prepare for the afterlife (akhirat). To Mak Cik, work has its own limit but to Pak Cik works has no time limit.
Mak Cik is depressed and that makes her mind wander timelessly. Multiple family stressors added up to precipitate her depressive illness. The differential life perspective contributes relatively to a poor understanding of the illness. This eventually resulted in poor social support from the spouse that tend to perpetuate the depression. In the end, she may develop isolation and loneliness.
Life has to continue despite adversities. When time is perceived as limited, the social network provides a meaningful interaction and assistance.
To manage the problem, this couple has to adopt three successful separate processes, namely:
Selection: which refers to the patient focusing attention on fewer, more important goals e.g. rescaling/reconstructing goals. In fact, the couple has to focus their attention on narrowing the gap in life perspective.
Optimization. This involves engaging in goal-directed actions and means; such as investing time and energy into the acquisition, refinement, and application of goal-relevant means, seizing the right moment, persistence, acquisition of new skills/resources, and practice of skills. The couples have to invest their time in doing common tasks and hobbies.
Compensation. The last process maintains a given level of functioning in the face of loss and decline in goal-relevant means by the patient investing in compensatory means. In some cases, when the couple arrives at some mutual understanding, life continues, business as usual.
She is a 14-year-old adopted daughter. She came to me because she demanded to move in, to a new school in KL. But her demand was unpredicted. She demanded the whole family to move in and get her a new school.
What’s wrong with that? The problem is: the place she suggested is totally new to the family, where and when, the adopted parents have to start a new life.
More often than not, the unrealistic demand originated from grudges and animosities dated back from the childhood days. These feelings displaced the fact that the parents have done a tremendous amount of works to raise her up.
The parents’ willingness to sacrifice was amazing but they were indecisive about it. That was the reason why they wanted to seek my opinion.
How could this happen? I believe as an adopted child, at some point in his development, the disagreements with the adopted parents have made her feel deprived of the primitive relationship with her own biological parents. This ‘trauma’ and the ‘severing of the ties’ have in a way affect the ego; that made her exploring to all the unrealistic demands made upon the adopted parents, in order to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological parents.
These early relational traumas may lead to a disorder of attachment that may affect the quality of emotional relationship with the caregiver. The disturbed behaviors place great demands on the parenting capacities of the adoptive parents.
There is no easy solution. First and foremost, there is a need for a wider degree of adoption openness. Studies have shown that openness is significantly related to satisfaction with adoption process among adoptive parents and birth mothers. Similarly, openness was associated with their greater satisfaction with the adoption process and better post-adoption adjustment (1). In short, it affects the mental wellness of the adoptive parents and later adjustment in raising the child.
Parents have to create conditions of security and trustworthiness for the child. They have to foster attachment by nurturing the trust, securing place safe for the child. It has to to be a home-based.
Since there is no way parents can avoid disagreement, they must know how to set limits in order to initiates repair as soon as the child indicates a desire for reconnection. This has to be done without trying to jeopardize the effort to strengthens the child’s feeling of safety within the relationship. If the child is angry or pouting, the caretaker must show that they understand their feelings, but remains firm. Relatively soon the child will give up because they need to reconnect. Attuned foster parents will then respond positively and immediately.
Dr. Daniel Siegel in his book Mindsight explained that in order to repair our attachment ability and develop more inner security as adults, parents must be willing to create a “coherent narrative” of our experience. It is to discover how we made sense of our past i.e. how our minds have shaped our memories of the past to explain who we are in the present. He believes if we can face our history and make sense of our narrative, we can actually change the course of our lives, our relationships, and the attachment patterns we pass on to our kids (2).
It is also important to have a partner with a secure attachment style. Latest in line is a development of psychotherapy called The Adult Attachment Repair Model (AARM) which simulates reparative childhood attachment experience, desensitizes distinct-event trauma and creates deeply embedded feelings of security (3).
It has been almost an hour since we had left our daughter with her colleagues. We went around the stadium. So many cars parked haphazardly along the road. Not a single policeman was seen till we reached the junction near the police headquarters.
My eyes were fixed at the new KFC on my right. At this junction, we saw policemen on duty. I saw people walking a mile or two from the white canopies. There were many of them. Families made up the most.
The unseasonable rain had been falling for several days. Today, the weather turned out to be fine and dry.
My daughter and her mother made a point that they didn’t like being in the large crowd. They’d just preferred watching smiley moon rather than pushing people back to back in public. To them watching the crested moon and winked stars is much more pleasant than Sure Heboh.
It is not that they are adhering to Seneca‘s advise that mass crowd is something to which you cannot entrust yourself yet without risk. Neither, it is not a form of social nor agoraphobia.
The risk of overspending is unavoidable if you spend too much time in Sure Heboh. The crowd itself trumped-up pressure for you to buy. It’s a kind of social pressure in the company of famous artists and tv anchors.
Throughout the years of my working trip expedition around the country, I prefer spending time seeking pleasure with my family more than spending with the crowd.
(Note: Seneca is a Roman philosopher, statesman, and advisor to Emperor Nero).
1. About 4 km from the nearest town is a hill. Next to it, is the larger hill. The kampong resembled an abbey and picturesque village drawn by schoolchildren on their canvases in the art class.
2. PakNjang used to plant padi huma many years back on top of the smaller hill. I would go and follow my mom and dad, tapping rubber at the bottom of the hill. Of course, it had just been running and roaming rather than doing the actual tapping.
3. 30 years ago, my dad had just retired from business. He came back and embarked on some small-scale kampung works. Rubber tapping was part of his regular exercises in the early hour of the day, immediately after Subuh prayer.
4. For a few years. almost every week, I make a trip back to my kampong. There is a hazard to journey undertaken in August-September – the heat. The heat is painfully hot and dry. Unlike some other places, the place here is essentially flat surrounded by a padi field that makes the climate hot and dry.
5. The people are relaxed and I could easily guess what they are thinking. The masjid (mosque) is filled with two lines of jamaah (congregates). On Friday morning, the congregate organizes a religious class followed by a breakfast that comprises of pulut lemak (creamy gelatinous rice) eaten with sambal or cempedak.
7. The government, past and present, have kept their promises well as far as this place is concerned. Previously, this constituency is represented by Tun M. Now, Ir Amiruddin has taken over the reign, which he won under PH’s banner during the last general election. Not surprisingly, the road is wide and well-plastered.
8. During the 14th General election, people in my kampung, had shifted side too. Staunch BN supporters changed side to Amanah and Bersatu and the crossover has contributed to the downfall of BN.
1. I inherit the attitude of hard work from my dad. But I doubt it goes well with my children or not😁😁😁. My dad used to carry tons of ‘guni padi’ over his shoulder to load into a lorry, by climbing on a piece of sliding wood arranged like a sliding straight wooden ladder. I witnessed how tough life was when I was small.
2. When I worked as a houseman, I spent hours in the ward without knowing what time I was supposed to go back. I went home only when the work finished, only to realize that the time passed normal working hours for ordinary civil servants who work in the same hospital. Therefore, I didn’t remember to clock in and out as the duties were limitless.
3. The present generations are complaining that they have no life working in the hospital. They require many other ‘life’ such as life by the seaside, life in the cinema, life in the shopping mall and to time to ‘balik kampong’.
4. What’s the point of having a good pay if you can’t enjoy the hard-earning money? What’s the point of having a good car if you can’t travel? they asked.
5. Time has changed. Good per capita incomes have definitely change the philosophy of work and life. Altruism may not be the sole objective of voluntary commitment anymore. Rewards are needed.
6. Having said that, I still believe in the balance of hard work and reward philosophy as the way forward to motive human behaviors. No time should be wasted on futile hard work. At the same time, life has to be spent wisely and one has to live a balanced life.
1. Consequences of adoption are difficult to manage, really. Kids are sensitive creatures. To disclose that they are adopted; is tough. It is a matter of when and how.
2. Once they know, to contain the emotional reactions is really a challenging task.
3. Next, is for the adoptive parent to maintain the kid inquisition about who is his/her biological parent and to explore more about the whereabouts. Wrong approaches will invite rebellious actions and reactions.
4. Adoptive parents have difficulty to impose strict disciplines because they are scared the kids may run away from home. The kids then give unrealistic demands which are difficult to realize. They may act the opposite to normal, well-accepted behaviors. In my case, I call it, oppositional defiant behaviors.
5. The most important step for me is to establish depression. Treatment is necessary. Cognitive-behaviour is a far better approach that drugs because the kid’s mind is flexible and highly absorbable to suggestions than to chemical substances. In scientific term, the flexibility is known as neuroplasticity.
6. Parents have to be very patient. They have to make sure that their families are intact whatever happened. Consultative decision-making is a must. No unilateral decision making is allowed. Stick to the family role. Avoid role reversal, just in order to satisfy the demand of a particular stakeholder. Revert every one attention back to the family fundamentals of respect, care, and compassion.
1. Life has endless challenges. Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of life. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.” (Carlos Castaneda)
2. She is just a 15-year old kid (fictional) who had been accused of delivering hatred via IG. Her IG’s screenshot has been circulated from discipline teacher to athlete coach to HM.
3. Poor to response when subtle bully appears which she realized when it is too late and unbearable. Overreacting leads her to curse the bully with foul languages and the latter seize the opportunity by screenshot the IG and reports to a discipline teacher. The system discredits her than the bully when people trust pieces of evidence more than her statements.
4. She felt mom didn’t love her since mom seldom shows much affection like what she had been showing to the younger kids. Dad is away for many years, a weekend’s father.
5. Her grandmother whom she used to consult whenever she had relationship problem at school had moved and stayed with her aunt a few years back.
6. Back from school, she was left alone. No one to talk to.
7. Her main worry is: in case she will be forbidden from taking part in sport, the only area she is good at.
8. Loneliness in kids is a real issue. Depression (in kids) manifests mainly as oppositional defiant behavior. This kid is vulnerable since she has undergone transient attachment without a secure attachment figure. The system which failed to protect the weakest perpetuates hopelessness.
9. Gives the family a chance. Time to correct and you will never regret.