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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 201
Luminous life: A new model of humanistic psychotherapy

Department of Psychiatry, St. Martha's Hospital, Nrupathunga Road, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication8-Aug-2012

How to cite this article:
Bhide AV. Luminous life: A new model of humanistic psychotherapy. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:201

How to cite this URL:
Bhide AV. Luminous life: A new model of humanistic psychotherapy. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Oct 1];54:201. Available from:

Author: Partha Choudhury

Publisher name and Address: Bauu Institute, Winter Park. Colorado: Bauu Press

Published in 2011

Pages: 108, Price: Not stated

This slim volume purports to be both, a self-help book as well as a guide for practicing therapists. Choudhury acknowledges the influence of Rogers, Maslow and Frankl as well as the unfortunately seldom remembered Prof. N. C. Surya, on his thinking and work. The Maslowian pyramid of the hierarchy of needs is directly and indirectly referred to in a number of places and forms the notochord of this book. The title comes from a Sanskrit adage beseeching the soul to be a beacon of light.

References to ancient Indian texts are also abundant and appropriate, particularly the Isa Upanishad and a more recent compilation of Sanskrit aphorisms, Manjul Manjusha. Particularly well discussed are the shadripu (six major psychological pitfalls): kama krodha (rage), mada (pride), matsarya (envy/hatred), lobha (greed), and moha (attachment). The parallels with the Judeo-Christian notion of the seven deadly sins are mentioned. Taking the trinity of virtues, satyam (truth) , shivam (transcendence), sundaram (beauty), Choudhury extends the concept of agraha (persuasion) to each of these. In modern times, Gandhi had popularized satyagraha (the persuasion for truth); Choudhary translates this as striving for truth and calls for this to be accompanied by what he calls striving for welfare and striving for beauty as a tripod on which positive mental health is built.

Aspects of greed, anger, guilt as well as the need for friendship, connectedness, forgiveness and willpower are well articulated. Choudhury conceives, not entirely originally, the cube of health as having the six sides of spiritual, mental, physical, cultural, social and material health, the first and the last being the only diametric opposites. Each is given due consideration. Case illustrations and some lightheartedness would without doubt have enhanced the value of these. The platitudes on healthy living in this book are counterbalanced by some serious psychological insights.

The author is known for his creative pursuits in the field of mental health right from his postgraduate days when I knew him. In the present work, an accommodative tone gives respect to alternate sexuality as well as feminism. While it tries to accommodate atheism too, it does not quite succeed here; Choudhary's clearly theistic leaning come through. It is heartening to see Indian authors who heed ancient wisdom even as their diasporal lives enmesh them in alien cultures.

All this is useful for both the purposes of the book. But how new is it? I tried hard but after three readings failed to find a truly new model in the book. Colin Wilson's 'New Pathways in Psychology: Abraham Maslow and the post-Freudian Revolution' put together humanistic principles of psychology in an as yet unparalleled manner. Scott Peck and Sheldon Kopp have in ingenious works shared their ideas on psychotherapy but neither had dared call his work a new model.

Chodhury overreaches in putting forth at the end, a model future utopia based on his understanding of our race and its needs. More than a trifle trite, it is endearing at least for its sincerity. The author also requests that professionals seek his written permission to use any material from this book for therapeutic purposes. Seriously, Partha? It did remind me of Western commercial interests a decade ago trying to patent the medicinal utility of an Indian traditional grandma remedy: good old haldi (turmeric)!

Correspondence Address:
Ajit V Bhide
Department of Psychiatry, St. Martha's Hospital, Nrupathunga Road, Bangalore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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