The Crusader of Mental Health

The Writer

“Mane Manasu” was his first novel, which won Sudha magazine’s award; it was about an adolescent girl who suffers from bad parenting. The novel “Kadadida Manasu” (Disturbed Mind) was the story of a schizophrenic person. He also wrote three detective novels. One was about a doctor with multiple personality disorder and who becomes a murderer; another novel was of a serial killer, who kills people who had cheated him.
He has written four plays, which were staged by NGOs, and two of these have been adapted and broadcast on radio.
The first article he wrote was ‘Nimage Yenu Tondare Tayi’ (What is your problem, Mother) in Kannada, when he was in the third year of MBBS. It dealt with breast cancer and appeared in October 1972 issue of the weekly magazine, Prajamatha.

The first medical book he wrote was ‘Magu Manassu Mattu Arogya’ (Child, Mind and Health); it was published by Bangalore University in 1980. His PUC classmate Ramaiah was working as the Assistant Editor in Prasaranga, publication division of Bangalore University; Ramaiah got him to write the book. It won the award in the popular science category from Karnataka Sahitya Academy. It was a memorable moment for him when he sat among other well known writers and received the award from the literary giant, Ha. Ma. Nayaka. The book was re-printed and was sold out. A famous critic, D S Nagabhushan, who happened to be CRC’s brother-in-law, said of this book that had it been published 20 years earlier and had his parents read it, his childhood would have been happier. He recommended this for every parent as a must-read.

During 1982-83, he applied for and won three book awards. His book Buddhi Mandyate (Mental Retardation) was given the Dr S S Jayaram Memorial Award by the Indian Psychiatric Society- Karnataka Chapter. He had sent in six of his books for the competition announced for best books on health education and psychiatry. The judge was S K Ramachandra Rao, a scholar in Psychology, Sanskrit, music and sculpture. To CRC’s mixed happiness and surprise, it was the booklet on mental retardation which won an award.

A booklet, “Moorche Roggake Maddu’ (Treatment of Epilepsy) got an award in 1983 from Department of Public Instruction, Government of Karnataka.

In 1986, CRC and others founded Kannada Vaidya Sahitya Parishat (Kannada Medical litterateurs Association), as a platform for medical writers to exchange ideas, promote medical literature and catalyze interest in writing. Dr. T R Prabhu, who was then the principal of Bangalore Medical College, was chosen as the first president of the association. He gave space in the college for the office of the association and for its functions.
The association has held workshops on writing every year for medical students from its inception till around 2010 across 12 medical colleges in Karnataka. The participants, who came from different medical colleges, were asked to write an article on a medical topic. The event would be conducted by a member from the parishat, who would then critique the articles and offer tips on writing a good article. The objective was to catalyze interest in writing on medical subjects for lay people.

Kannada Vaidya Sahitya Parishat gave him an award for his contribution to medical literature in 1998. He was the president of the association from 1994-96.

His articles have appeared in almost all Kannada periodicals including Prajavani, Sudha, Taranga, Tushara and Karmaveera. Through his extensive writing, he has touched the lives of millions in Karnataka. People often ask him how he finds time for his writing. Writing is his hobby, and does not seem like a chore. His wife took care of house work efficiently, allowing him to write. Thousands of patients and people who came for counseling have narrated their life stories, which have provided material for his writing.
Before him, only two people have written books with a psychological perspective. One was the novelist, Triveni and the other, Dr. M. Shivram. CRC feels indebted to them and has said that he owes the success of his writings to the vacuum created by their death.

When he began his writing career, there were only a few Kannada periodicals – three newspapers and two magazines. These published articles on health very rarely. After he had submitted his article, he had to wait up to eighteen months before it got published when accepted. He was never informed in the meantime about its status. Some of the articles were rejected, but the editors did not care to inform him the reasons.

Tushara was a weekly magazine. For two and a half years, his articles and stories were published regularly in a section called ‘Manasa’. Happy to be given the opportunity, he wrote enthusiastically for free. Subsequently, IBH published a compilation of these articles, “Chitta Vaichitriya”.

Around the same time, Taranga, a weekly magazine published 10 articles of CRC under a series, ‘Manasa Sarovara’.
In 1985, B.V. Vaikunta Raju’s magazine, ‘Raju Patrike’, published two compilations of his articles in Kannada, one entitled, ‘Supernatural Powers of Godmen’, the other ‘Wonders of the mind’. In the same year, Taranga started a series of articles on beliefs in spirits, ghosts and sorcery. They stopped the series abruptly, without giving any reason. Later, people told CRC that it could have been due the opposition to these articles, which tried to dispel these myths by people who were strong believers in this culture. CRC had been writing that people who get possessed by spirits were mentally disturbed and were trying to express their feelings through such behavior. They did not need sorcery or godmen, but needed counseling and medical treatment.

Later CRC compiled all published and unpublished articles which had written for this series. This was published by NIMHANS as ‘Samajika Nambikegalu Mathu Manasika Arogya’ (‘Beliefs of Society and Mental Health’). The book seeks to enlighten people about black magic and other practices and the dangers of blind faith.

The Kannada newspaper, Prajavani, published 20 articles during 1991 in the popular section on health. His articles on sex education and mental health were published in several other magazines.

He won the support of Shama Rao, the editor of Kannada periodicals, Samyukta Karnataka and Karmaveera. He promised to publish as many articles as CRC could submit for Karmaveera. For two years, he wrote articles and six bonus books, 50000 copies of each of which were distributed free to the subscribers.

He wrote for the question and answer column in Mangala magazine for five years, in Prajavani (newspaper) for three years, Udayavani (newspaper) for one year, Vikranta Karnataka (weekly) for one year, and for several other periodicals.

His friend, Subramanyachar offered to introduce him to Anantharam, the editor of IBH. Subramanyachar had been a tentant in CRC’s father’s house and had gone on to become a writer of children’s books. CRC had written a book with stories of patients who had come to him from 1975 to 1978. CRC and his friend went to IBH with this book. Anantharam told CRC later that the case stories were good, but he should revise the book and write how the patients were treated in detail. Chitta Vaichitriya (Wonders of the Mind) was published by IBH finally in 1981. It had fifteen short stories dealing with mental disorders; each story also incorporated symptoms of the disease and its treatment method. It was re-printed later, and later serialized in Karmaveera. In 2000, it was published again as Ananya Nenapu (Incomparable Memories). CRC translated Dr. Dastoor’s ‘Sex Power’ into Kannada for IBH. It became popular and was re-printed many times.

Apart from ‘Banamati’, Karnataka Rajya Vijnana Parishat published CRC’s book ‘Devaru Devva Maimele Baruvuve’ (Do Gods Spirits Possess a Person) in 1983 and priced it at one rupee. It has been reprinted nine times and like the book ‘Banamati,’ has helped to dispel beliefs in evil spirits and black magic.

NIMHANS published a compilation of his 46 articles as ‘Manasu Mattu Manasika Asvasthate’, at a price of only ten rupees. Udayavani newspaper named it as the year’s most authoritative and important book.

In 1986, he was introduced to R S Rajaram, the managing director of Nava Karnataka publishers. Rajaram confessed that they had wanted to approach him earlier, but did not since IBH was publishing his books. He said CRC’s style of writing on health was easily accessible to the general public. He asked CRC to submit his manuscripts. CRC made a compilation of his articles under two titles :Nimma Maguvina Manasu (Your Child’s Mind), ‘Mahileyara Manasika Aswasthate’ (Mental Disorders of Women). These books are still being sold. So far Nava Karnataka has published 80 books of CRC.

‘How to Improve Memory’ in Kannada has been printed twenty five times since 1992 by Nava Karnataka Publications, with a print-run of 1000 to 2000 copies each time. Apart from ‘Banamati’, this is probably his most popular book. The same book in English was first published in 2001, and has been printed 14 times. There were books in Kannada on same topic when it was first published, but people have said that his book is more scientific and has practicable tips, rather than being theoretical. The Kannada book costs only Rs. 25 and has 48 pages, contributing to its popularity.

‘Nimma Maguvina Manassu’ (Know Your Child’s Mind) has been printed 16 times since 1986; with only 56 pages and priced at Rs 30.

‘Nimma Manisika Arogyavannu Hechiskolli’ (Improve Your Mental Health) has been printed ten times since 1992, and has 212 pages.

‘Mind Your Mind’ (English) is in its 11th print. Written for the lay person, the book describes in simple and non-technical language major incapacitating mental disorders (psychoses) and minor disorders (neuroses). For each commonly occurring disorder, symptoms, possible causes, methods of treatment with names of drugs are covered. It includes many case studies, which show how the disorders are manifested and how people handle the disorder, such as taking the patient to a traditional healer for treatment instead of to a doctor. There are separate chapters for mental health problems of women, children, adolescents and the elderly, and the therapeutic benefits of crying.

‘Manasee Nee Prashantavaagiru’ (Oh Mind, Be Calm; 108 pages) has seen 12 prints since 2004. It covers topics from what is mind to how to improve one’s mental health. One of its chapters, ‘You, Your Physician, and Treatment’ was included in Kannada text book prescribed for 10th standard by Karnataka Government’s Education Department.
Sukha Dampatya (Happy Marital Life) was printed for the twelfth time in 2014. It was described by a reviewer as a well written sex education book for married couples.

‘Devaru Devva Iruvuve? Maimele Baruvuve?’ (Do Gods and evil spirits possess a person?) was rewritten by CRC and published by Nava Karnataka in 1996. It was printed for the time in 2012; it is priced at Rs. 25, with 48 pages. It has several case studies of possession : a sexually abused woman, a woman who is treated cruelly by her husband and mother-in-law, a girl who sees the ghost of her, who had committed suicide, school children who were hungry and unable to tolerate teachers who were task masters. Since the subjects were unable to revolt in any other way, except getting possessed, which was cathartic. Other cases are of temple priests who exploited the belief of people in possession, and people who claimed they could talk to spirits of dead people and get answers to questions posed by their relatives. The author explains that people cannot get possessed by gods or spirits, and there is no scientific evidence for the existence of soul. People believe that when a priest or devotee gets possessed by a god, then that person can solve their problems; and that a troubled dead soul can possess a living person and torment him or her. The scientific basis for these phenomena and how to treat a possessed person are explained.

Once, when he held a dialogue in a middle school, the students asked many questions on sexual issues. This gave him the idea of ‘Laingika Arivu – 106 Prashnegalu’ (Sexual Awareness – 106 Questions; 48 pages), his first book in a question and answer format. It has been printed 12 times since 1988.

‘Shaala Makkala Manasika Samasyegalu’ (Mental Problems of School Children) was in its eighteenth print in 2013. Today children are compelled to chase high marks and high ranks in a competitive environment by their parents; instead of flowering to their natural potential, they wither. This book explains why children fall behind in studies, why they forget their lessons, how to improve their memory, mental problems of children and the treatment.
Considering the number of his books which have been printed over ten times, one would assume that CRC would have made millions. The reality is that Kannada authors get a maximum of 10% royalty and his books are priced very low. What motivates him to keep writing is his mission to educate people about physical and mental health.

All his books have been written from his clinical experience. He refers to text books or research paper only for latest developments or figures. He does not keep any notes on his patients. The case studies which are part of his books and articles were written within few months from date of their occurrence. He writes his books by hand. In the beginning he had to edit or rewrite a book a couple of times. Today his craft has evolved to a stage where he can write without having to edit. He can write to a target number of pages; if the book has to have 100 pages, he can plan and finish at that length, more or less accurately.

In 1989 Dr. Gururaj Karajagi, Principal, V. V .S. First Grade College for Women, arranged 8 lectures with question and answer sessions on issues related to students’ mental health at the college. Later Gururaj himself had the talks published as a book, ‘Kishore Chitta’ (Adolescent’s Mind).

Seven chapters from his Kannada books have been included in text books : ‘You, Doctor and Treatment’ in 10th standard Kannada textbook, ‘Micro-organisms’ in 8th standard science book, ‘On counseling’ and ‘On Dreams’ in text books of degree courses in Ku.vem.pu University (Shimoga), ‘On Hunger for Recognition’ in Mangalore University, and ‘Memory’ in Karnataka State Women’s University Bijapur.

Four of his books have been translated into Telugu, three books into Urdu, one into Gujarati, and two into Hindi.
Over the years, thousands of people have written or told him that they read his articles and books or heard his lectures and have benefited from them. This gives him great happiness and motivates him to continue writing.
In the year 2000, Dr P S Shankar Foundation, Gulbarga, awarded his book ‘Neevu Balasuva Oushadhigalu’ (Medications that you use) as the best medical book published in Karnataka that year.

He was given the Karnataka Sahitya Academy award in 2003 for ‘Namma Nimma Asahaja Nadavalikegalige Pariharavenu’, for being an outstanding book published in the year 2002 in the science category. It deals with the causes of abnormal behavior and how to correct them. This was his second book to receive the award.

Many well known writers and critics have complimented CRC on his style of writing. They have said that it is simple, engaging and communicates the message clearly; it can be read by even a high school student. Dr. Sivram Karanth, a Jnana Peetha awardee, has written a letter praising his contribution to Kannada literature; G Venkatasubbaiah, the Kannada lexicographer who has compiled over 10 dictionaries, came to inaugurate a counseling center and recommended that everyone should read CRC’s books and said that he had enjoyed reading them.

Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana, the pontiff of Chitradurga Math invited CRC a few times to give lectures; as also Hubli and Gadag monasteries. The head of the Lingayat math in Sirigere, Karnataka invited CRC for two of the annual conferences organized by the monastry. The swamiji had read CRC’s books and told him that his message should be propagated. The topics he speaks in mathas (monasteries) are mental health, debunking black magic, how to bring up children, how to control passions.

His latest book is “Samagraha Samputa”, which is in four volumes. Two volumes describe 108 case studies, third volume is on Mind, Brain & Mental Disorders and the fourth volume is on physical health and illnesses. The last two volumes are reprints of books published earlier. Karnataka Judicial Academy bought 1000 copies of the book and gave it to all the judges in Karnataka.