New Delhi: While the recent case of the Bengaluru CEO who killed her four-year-old son, may have shocked you to the core and made you question the ultimate bond between a mother and her child, and humanity, experts stressed the importance of good relationship between parents, and seeking help for mental health.
Suchana Seth, the CEO of an artificial intelligence start-up, made headlines this week after she was apprehended by Karnataka Police on Monday night for murdering her four-year-old and carrying his dead body in a bag.
Seth, 39, was en route from Candolim, Goa, to Bengaluru in a cab when she was detained.
While further investigation remains, mental health experts pondered over the attachment between a mother and the child, and the reason how a mother can kill her own child.
Speaking to IANS, Dr Rahul Chandhok, Head Consultant- Mental Health & Behavioural Science, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, stressed the importance of a mother’s wish in having a baby.
“Attachment of a parent with a child begins with a wish to have a child. But sometimes the child is not wanted, in such a scenario, the attachment does not develop in a healthy manner. After the birth, there occurs a difficulty in developing the bond between the parent and the child, which can result in severe damage to the relationship. If the person doesn’t want to have a child the bond will never develop,” Dr Chandhok said.
He said while there are certain psychiatric disorders, where a parent can cause severe harm to the child like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, but in the absence of these, attachment issues can bring trouble.
Dr Chandhok also noted that souring relationship between a couple can also make a parent harm their children.
“When the relationship between the couple deteriorates, the child becomes the pawn/tussle between two adults. This can result in detachment with the child, and to such harms” he said.
“At times parental alienation in the backdrop of marital discord makes one use one’s own child as an object to induce suffering to one’s estranged spouse,” Dr Sameer Malhotra, Director and Head – Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, told IANS.
This was evident in the preliminary investigations into the sensational case that revealed that Seth committed the crime to deny her former husband access to the child after a court granted him visitation rights.
Health experts also stressed on the importance of the well-being of a mother during and after pregnancy, which can help develop as well as sustain the bond between a mother and her baby.
A healthy and supportive atmosphere to the mother is most important post pregnancy, and any psychological symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum should be immediately addressed with a professional, they said.
“Significant changes in mood and behaviour, changes in biological rhythms like sleep, appetite should not be neglected. A combination of factors: contextual, personality, paranoia / delusional beliefs and mood dysregulation can all contribute to trouble,” Dr Malhotra said.
The doctor stressed on the importance of a “healthy lifestyle, work life balance, positive social and family support, early identification and timely treatment of underlying psychiatric concerns” all which can have a preventive role.
While reaching out for mental health support has been a taboo or stigma, Dr Sanjay Kumavat, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said “it is incredibly vital to seek professional help if you are suffering from anxiety and other forms of depression”.
“Whether you are a working mother or not, seeking professional help when you have any form of stress is paramount. This is especially true if any person notices marked changes in their personality or has trouble with daily activities like eating or sleeping.
“An inability to cope with problems, feelings of disconnection, or withdrawal from normal activities is something that should be brought to the attention of a mental health expert.
“When a parent takes drastic steps with his/ her child, it represents a culmination of intense emotions such as rage, frustration, anger, helplessness, and a sense of worthlessness. Such actions may be impulsive and also influenced by substances like drugs,” Kumavat added.