Three New Books by Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge who has written a vast number of books in both Sinhala and English has contributed a lot to the Health Education in Sri Lanka. His new books on Binninmadaya (Schizophrenia) Mano Vishleshana Prathikara (Psychoanalytic Therapy) and EMDR Sri Lankan Experience are highly useful to the Mental Health Workers.

Binninmadaya or Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality and relates to others. Schizophrenia has an altered perception of reality and there are considerable numbers of patients in our community. Dr Jayatunge has written this book in simple terms and in a reader friendly manner. Therefore it is an useful book to the Mental Health Workers as well as to those who look after the Schizophrenic patients. Also this book emphasizes the importance of drug therapy and psychological management of the illness and psychosocial rehabilitation which is beneficial to the patient. Read More

Leo Tolstoy and His Great Epic War and Peace

Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D. –

At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it; the other even more reasonable says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger, since it is not a man’s power to provide for everything and escape from the general march of events; and that it is therefore better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice; in society to the second. Read More

POW s of Elam War

It’s so hard to express how that mental duress
Played especially torturous role
Like the termites that fed on the boards in my bed,
It was gnawing away at my soul. . . .

Against horrors so chilling, the spirit was willing
But the flesh was too weak to withstand.
Was it really a sin for a man to give in?
Could I better resist each demand?

Edward Alan Brudno
American POW captured by the North Vietnamese in 1965

Former POWs of the Elam War undergo a range of mental health problems. The Elam War which lasted for about 20 years in Northern Sri Lanka has caused numerous physical and mental health ailments among the survivors. The LTTE or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has captured a considerable number of servicemen during the war and some of them were executed. The remaining POWs were handad over to the ICRC (International Red Cross) and now they are free. Many former prisonors have dreaded memories of their POW days. Most of them suffer from PTSD.

To become a POW is a traumatic experience although the Geneva Conventions protect POWs from maltreatment and assures them of certain basic needs. The words can hardly explain the physical and mental agony experienced by former POWs. They are like living dead. The psychological impact of being taken as a prisoner of war is devastating. POWs cope with utter difficulty. Although they are free they constantly live in fearful intrusions and spending their lives in dispar. Read More

Viragaya the Inimitable Psychological Novel

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge MD –

Viragaya novel is a turning point in Sinhala literature. Literary genius Martin Wicramasinghe vibrantly portrays Aravinda s character in Viragaya digging in to the inner psyche. Therefore Viragaya can be considered as one of the first and best psychological novels in Sinhala literature. Aravinda was a virtuous character trapped in biological instincts and cultural pressure. The complexity of Aravinda s character reveals the inner world of a man who was brought up according to the Buddhist village traditions and how he struggles to fulfill his hidden desires leading to a dramatic transformation.

According to the mundane eye Aravinda was a failure. His ambition to become a doctor and apparent haematophobia and aversion to dissect dead bodies prevented him from pursuing his goal. The untimely death of his father and subsequent financial problems forced him to engage in a petty job and to lead an insignificant life. When his girlfriend Sara offered her love and gave her consent to live with him Aravinda faces a moral dilemma. His Indecisiveness jeopardized the relationship and he becomes lonely for the rest of his life. Read More

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe the Monarch who suffered fromPTSD

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge –

According to the Western chronological records the first patients of PTSD were recorded in 1666. These records were based on Samuel Pepy’s diary which describes the bizarre behavior pattern of the survivors of the Great Fire of London. Samuel Pepy vividly portrayed the nightmares, intrusions and flashbacks experienced by these survivors. In 1876 American Civil War doctor Mandez Da Costa published a paper diagnosing Civil War veterans with PTSD like symptoms which he called Irritable Heart. During the World War 1 military psychologist explained a combat related stress feature called Shell Shock. In 1980 the word PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was delineated by the American Psychiatric Association after series of research work with the Vietnam veterans.

Although the Western World recorded PTSD in 1666 the King Seethawaka Rajasinghe the 16th century monarch of Sri Lanka believed to be suffered from combat related PTSD. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe (born in 1580 AD) was a great warrior who came to the battle field at the age of 16. He fought against the Portuguese invaders and witnessed many deaths and destructions. He was a fearless fighter who used effectual war tactics and overpowered the fully equipped and fully trained Portuguese war machine. Following the long years of combat he was exhausted and definitely suffered from battle fatigue.
Read More

Depression in Children

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge –

Depression is a mood disorder which can affect adults as well as children. In general terms depression is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, sadness and lack of self-worth. It is more than a sad feeling. Depression is common among adults. Unlike adults childhood depression is difficult to distinguish. They often express their feelings through behavior. Depression affects child’s overall energy, mood, expressions of emotion and behavior.

According to the British experts at least two per cent of children under 12 struggle with significant depression, and by teenage years this has risen to five per cent. Following the geopolitical and economic conditions in Sri Lanka a significant number of children are affected by childhood depression. Most of these cases are undiagnosed and not receiving adequate treatment.
Read More

Conduct Disorder in Children

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

Children with conduct disorder repeatedly violate the personal or property rights of others and age-appropriate social standards and rules. Conduct disorder has a multifactorial etiology that includes biological, psychosocial and familial factors. Associated features of conduct disorder include an inability to appreciate the importance of others’ welfare and little guilt or remorse about harming others. The etiology of conduct disorder involves an interaction of genetic/constitutional, familial and social factors.

Children with Conduct Disorder often view the world as a hostile and threatening place and they have difficulty maintaining friendships. They often have low self-esteem and low frustration tolerance. Peers and family members become negative and irritated with their misbehavior which leads to a vicious cycle. The literature abounds with studies indicating the comorbid relationships between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Learning Difficulties, Mood Disorders, Depressive symptoms, Anxiety Disorders and Communication Disorders.

Read More

Schizophrenia From a Pychological Point of View

Written and Compiled by Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

There is always this element of concealed accusation in neurosis, the patient feeling as though he were deprived of his right-that is, of the center of attention – and wanting to fix the responsibility and blame upon someone.

-Alfred Adler

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality and relates to others. Schizophrenia has an altered perception of reality. Research suggests that schizophrenia may be a developmental disorder resulting from alterations in the usual maturing process of the nervous system. Around 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia during their lifetime, and this figure is the same all over the world.
Read More

Psychological Reflections of Vincent Van Gogh’s Art

I know for sure that I have an instinct for colour, and that it will come to me more and more, that painting is in the very marrow of my bones.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

Vincent William van Gough a famous Dutch artist whose work often associated with Post-Impressionism and later transformed in to Expressionism. Vincent Van Gogh, was one of the most important predecessors of modern painting. He was an outstanding mostly self taught artist who used color for its “symbolic and expressive values” rather than to reproduce light and literal surroundings. Vincent van Gogh’s artistic work deeply analyses his unconscious mind. The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud viewed art as a privileged form of neurosis where the analyst-critic explores the artwork in order to understand and unearth the vicissitudes of the creator’s psychological motivations. In this context van Gough’s art represent a profound psychological sketch.

Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Netherlands. Since his childhood Van Gogh had an immense passion for art. Van Gogh’s emotional state highly affected his artistic work. Van Gogh’s most famous works include: Starry Night, Cafe Terrace at Night, Terrasse, Houses At Auvers, Restaurant De La Sirene At Asnieres, Sunflowers, Irises, and several self-portraits, amongst others. Most of his best-known work was created in the last two years of his life.
Read More

Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki Expedition

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

Thor Heyerdahl – a world renowned Norwegian explorer best known for his famous voyage Kon-Tiki expedition practically showed that ancient people could have crossed much greater distances through ocean for trade and cultural exchange. He was convinced that the ocean was only a barrier to man as long as our ancestors were strictly pedestrians, but it became a conveyor for cultural contact and the growth of diversified civilizations from the moment the first sea-going watercraft was invented. Heyerdahl once stated that “man hoisted sail before he saddled a horse. He poled and paddled among rivers and navigated open seas before he traveled on wheels along roads.

Thor Heyerdahl was born in 1914 in Norway. As a young boy he was interested in biology and had a dream to become an explorer and travel to exotic countries far away. During 1937 – 1938 Thor Heyerdahl received a zoological grant to research animal life on the Marquesas Islands. This journey had a great influence on his life. His interest soon turned as to how these Islands and Polynesia in general, had become populated. He was highly interested in marine migration and studied the cultural diffusion which occurred through ancient sea roots.
Read More