Addressing the disease, not the symptoms

Kushal Shah
3 min readMay 4, 2020


I don’t think there’s a literal definition of the term disease, but the closest I could find is a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism [1]. This is how we know that something’s wrong when we are having a headache, fever or diarrhea right? And curing a headache is easy as well, where you take an aspirin and you are all set.

If excessive worry was personified into someone, I am sure that the exact replica would be of my mom. If I am out somewhere, I am presumed dead if I do not text her on time. She’ll call all my friends to check if I am okay, and yes I still have to share numbers of my friends, almost nine years after staying away from home. My dad is a different character, where I am told what to wear, what to eat, and heck how I should comb my hair. If this is not quarter life crisis, I don’t know what is?

I was listening to a podcast by Ranveer Allahbadia, where the guest was Siddharth Roy Kapur of Roy Kapur films. Ranveer asked Siddharth on how he deals with stars and their tantrums and Siddharth replied that is is important to have compassion for the other person and put yourself into their shoes. The reason why someone is misbehaving can be because they are insecure and one should try to address the insecurity rather than dealing with the behavior.

Well, looking at the symptoms that my parents are exhibiting, my diagnosis would be that they are crazy, or is there something else going on? Maybe my mom is being possessive of the first child and maybe my dad sees in me the mistakes he made when he was my age, and does not want me to repeat them? So instead of targeting the symptoms, I should just understand the underlying reasons behind their actions, be compassionate and text my mom?

The first rule of Emotional Intelligence is to be extremely self aware, to identify the triggers and then to understand why we are doing certain things. That means that I should pause before opening Instagram, think what made me want to open it, and then try to address the reason, rather than cribbing about opening Instagram? If I think too much about my actions, my focus would instead shift towards treating the symptom, which could be deleting the app, or turning my phone-screen into grayscale mode. But the disease that caused the symptom to surface in the first place would be left untreated, and one activity would instead replace another.

An obvious correlation to Medical Science would be how antibiotics work, where we try to suppress a fever or numb a pain, and an overdose of antibiotics would make us resistant to bacterial strains, hence requiring higher doses to cure subsequent infections. So would an alternative medicine treatment to cure the disease of boredom, a roadblock at work, or anxiety just be mindfulness?

— -