HYDERABAD: Peter Lewis Kranz, the American Professor, an expert in clinical psychology with a four decade experience of dealing with clients and students, surprises us when he says not much has changed in the issues that have caused depression in earlier generation and the younger crop. “Relationship and academic issues continue to be the majority. A lot of cases are also a result of single parenting and higher divorce rates now. Technology has its share too, as people fail to realise there’s an entire world to explore beyond a machine!” shares the professor just prior to his brief academic stint at NIMH in the city.
Earlier, Peter had welcomed MetroPlus for the conversation with an endearing simplicity, that belies the impressive 33-page long CV.
Causes of depression, he informs, are quite universal. His travels around the world, including this Indian tour, have convinced him more about this. “I feel we’re all somewhere connected as humans beyond religion, caste, creed and colour. If there are differences, they do good to enrich us. When I teach a class that’s a diversified lot, it only means more energy to me,” he quips. And he feels it a healthy sign to see celebrities, be it movies, business or sports, coming out and saying ‘we’re as fallible’ and open up on their depression issues. “They have talent yes, but it doesn’t exempt them from facing personal difficulties. Many are surprised by that. It’s terrific that these issues are getting acceptance today. Most universities and institutions have counselling centres to lend a helping hand.”
This arena has seen him honing his practical skills in his early years, with the academician in him taking over the reigns in the latter part of his career. The 75-year-old mentions that it was rigorous training that had him empathising and not sympathising with his clients (not ‘patients’, he is particular). The factors governing his profession continue to be confidentiality and client trust. “It’s something that’s built over time. When you come over to my place and I offer a coffee, or when it is raining and I offer you an umbrella, these are the little things that they look for,” he mentions the need for solace.
Talking of empathy, he says it’s tough to balance in not overdo the emotional involvement with clients. “You need to equally be professional and human enough, when things may get mechanical dealing with issues on a daily basis,” he adds.
One reason behind his choice of psychology, both as a professor and the practical side of it, is also the ability to give something back to the society. Peter elaborates, “Doing something for the world makes you feel so good! The ability to come out of a self-centred mindset, connect with people are also significant reasons, me and my counterparts have chosen this.” These experiences have been crucial for Peter to bridge the gap between theory and real-time situations for his students.
The problem, though, is when, people may not realise they’re suffering from depression. Even when they realise it, some don’t approach. Peter highlights some of the common traits including sleeplessness, eating difficulties, use of inappropriate medications, drugs, alcohol and the feeling of helplessness. To sum it up all and tackle it, he says, the society lacks a good sense of humour in approaching life. “There are lots of positive things that the world needs to know!”
On his Indian tour, he admits the country has been a wonderful host.
“The people have been quite nice to me. It’d be nicer if we see a rise in student exchange programmes between US and India.”