The New Indian express on the 26th of November, ran an article titled ‘Mind’s demons let loose by DeMon, says health study’. Being a psychiatrist, as I read the article, it was clear how distorted the news item was from the original source
The article in question gives anecdotes of instances of “acute mental illness directly triggered by the stress of demonetisation” but the study which they have quoted makes no such claim and categorically states that these cases were reported after the demonetisation, but structured data would be required to establish demonetisation as the specific stressor.
Surprisingly, the article mentions this fact towards the end, and in doing so, contradicts the statement it made in the beginning of the article.
Coming to the cases reported, the symptoms mentioned are typical of psychiatry cases but the article would have us believe that these were somehow caused by the note ban. The news item also wrongly informs us that anhedonia is the “inability to find pleasure in normal activities” when the terminology is used for the inability to find pleasure in normally pleasurable activities. Further the article states “many case reports” while the study states only eight.
The author of the case report published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry states that he undertook the study as there was a spike of cases after the demonetisation, which is surprising as in my practice the number of patients dropped following the scrapping of notes for obvious reasons of cash shortage.
Having said that, it’s quite possible that the unexpected withdrawal of notes could have been a reason for consternation for many, it is the same case with many events which are in the public eye. In my experience of practice in Coimbatore, we witnessed a spike in mania cases during the jallikattu protests as an emotionally charged atmosphere is known to trigger the same.
Right from the heading to the content, the intention of the article in the newspaper is clear – to blame demonetisation for mental illness just like how multiple deaths were reported to be due to it.
Another shoddy piece of journalism that deserves to be in the dustbin than in our newspapers.