A combination of childhood experiences, popular culture and Adobe Photoshop, are the recipe to a perfect monster.Children, in particular, are victims of fear, especially when it comes to darkness and monsters. A combination of these two often results in sleepless nights and intangible lifelong fear
Hvovi Bhagwagar is a Mumbai based clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in dealing with various kinds of disorders, including anxiety, clinical depression and borderline personality illnesses. She believes that “negative experiences can definitely play a strong role in inculcating fears in a child’s mind.” She further says that children, who are afraid of sleeping in the dark and fear intangible ideas like ghosts and monsters, usually have a history of physical abuse. These same children further grow up into adults with traumatic childhood experiences and turn into the red-eyed-coffee-chugging monsters that suffer from insomnia, or have night fears and have fears of being attacked by some unknown entity.
But what manifests the idea of an ugly creature? Popular culture like stories about Dracula, Frankenstein, among others, have been popularised as figures to be scared of, and eventually, being used as tools to instil fear and form discipline. “Fear of monsters, horror and gore could be evolutionary and linked to our flight or fight response which tells us to flee “danger”. However the human brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined and thus monster like entities activate the threat system and our immediate instinctive reaction (without much thought) is to run,” believes Bhagwagar.
First Appeared in The National Geographic Magazine on 18th July, 2018
Psychologists say a constant flow of social media posts, television stories and newspaper articles on suicide can act as trigger for vulnerable patients with mental health issues. “It can be the tipping point, which gives them ‘permission’ to act on what they had so far just been thinking about. We have seen similar surges in India following the deaths of actors Pratyusha Banerjee (in April 2016) and Jiah Khan (in June 2013),” says Hvovi Bhagwagar, Mumbai-based clinical psychologist who specialises in trauma therapy.
There is, in fact, an unwritten code among healthcare professionals in India to not contribute to sensationalised articles or content on suicide deaths of celebrities. In the past one week, Bhagwagar has heard clients mention the Spade and Bourdain deaths at every session she has had at her clinic. She recalls that depression/suicide ideation among her clients was much higher during the media coverage of Hollywood actor Robin Williams’ death in August 2014.
Featured in the Economic Times on June 17th, 2018
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) the prevalence rate for bipolar disorder is approximately 1.1 % of the population. H’vovi Bhagwagar, psychotherapist, is of the view that, “In the 90s, it was mainly due to the easy availability of mood stabilisers that bipolar became a catch-all term to promote sales for pharmaceuticals. Such is the case even today. However, psychiatrists are more cautious when offering mood stabilisers now. If the person has depression, mood stabilisers alone are ineffective.
“I usually encourage patients with bipolar and their families to learn as much as they can about the disorder. Also, keeping a track of symptoms and watching for signs indicating out-of-control mood swings are essential to stop the problem before it starts. For those who may be reluctant to seek treatment because they like the “ups” of the manic swing, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting the victim and people around. So get the right help and soon,” Bhagwagar advises
Featured in The Free Press Journal on June 24th, 2018
What is the difference between a psychologist, psychotherapist and psychiatrist?
H’vovi Bhagwagar, a psychologist and psychotherapist, explains, “Psychiatrists are medical practitioners who have a degree in psychiatry, and are licensed to prescribe medication that helps to overcome biochemical imbalances and restore normalcy. A limited number of psychiatrists also practice psychotherapy. Psychotherapists are trained to treat individuals suffering from emotional problems, while psychologists work with people suffering from depression to change their patterns of thinking. Psychotherapists and psychologists will often work in conjunction with psychiatrists by referring patients who need medication, giving psychotherapists some background information about the patient’s condition and monitoring the medication.”
It is important to note that only individuals with a master’s degree such as an MSc or MPhil in psychology are certified to practice psychotherapy.
Featured in Mumbai Mirror on October 10, 2017.
According to psychologist Hvovi Bhagwagar, extreme signs of fear might be linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She describes the condition as having three main symptoms — hyper arousal (constantly being on alert), avoidance of emotions and places or situations that remind them of the trauma, and intrusions or constant flashbacks of the event that had occurred.
According to her, even those who are new to the city have been reacting abnormally to the heavy rainfall witnessed this year. She calls it vicarious trauma. Here, people who haven’t experienced a traumatic incident personally develop a sense of fear after listening to others’ narratives, and refrain from venturing out of their homes.
Featured in Sunday Mid-Day on September 24, 2017
“Communicating through Whats App is both efficient and disturbing… such groups are highly beneficial, but parents can also go overboard and misuse them. Firstly, when parents share notes on their child’s progress in a project or at school, it could lead to competition. the group can become a platform to compare notes, handwriting and what not, which i find very disconcerting. Secondly, parents tend to rely on getting information from the WhatsApp groups instead of relying on a primary source – their kids. Kids usually get the right information as they are in class when announcements are made. Information shared via such groups can be misreported or misinterpreted, leading to further confusion. Lastly, messages start flowing in at the time when a child is busy studying for exams. Most parents are left to deal with hundreds of messages as well as look after the needs of their children, which could stress a parent out. WhatsApp groups should have certain rules and parents should adhere to them. They have to be moderated efficiently and will only then become an excellent medium of communication.”
Featured in Robin Age on June 29, 2017
Despite knowing the perils of driving drunk, what makes a motorist willing to take the risks? Hvovi Bhagwagar, a clinical psychologist and trauma therapist, blames the won’t-happen-to-me syndrome. “It’s largely those in the age group of 28-38 who are behind most drink driving accidents.”
“Alcohol makes it difficult for a person to make a rational decision. the increased impulsiveness makes youths believe that many are invincible.”
Featured in Mid-Day, June 11, 2017.
Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Therapist, Hvovi Bhagwagar, was awarded ‘Women’s Achiever 2017’ by the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust on 7th March, 2017, at Hotel Rodas Ecotel. An NGO that works towards women empowerment and gender equality, the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust received over two hundred and sixty-eight nominations, of which only 20 were selected to be awarded.
“Women are the key to wellness and happiness, they play a vital role in perpetuating a good future for the world,” Hvovi said while receiving the award.
Featured in The Parsi Times, March 25, 2017.
Going by psychologists, it is no longer wrong to ask for your own bed despite being in a relationship. “As such, a marriage is not dependent on sharing the same space. I believe that separate beds are actually becoming quite common these days. The reason could be that each partner has a different work routine and thus bedtime is not fixed, more so with international coordination and various time zones. The other reasons couples could be sleeping in separate beds could be because either of them cannot handle either the snoring, or kicking, or tossing and turning in bed of the partner,” explains Hvovi Bhagwagar, a Mumbai based psychotherapist.
Hvovi believes that in today’s world, separate beds make a lot of sense if it means waking up fresher and energetic.
Featured in New Woman, March 2017
Parents need to know that life is not only about books. It’s also about social skills, emotional intelligence and physical activity. If a child wants to participate Olympiads, it should only be after he or she has agreed to do all the hard work and if he or she wants to gain exposure to a new subject.
Featured in Robin Age, January 19, 2017