Caught in the Toils of the Mind 
As many writers, I am greatly inspired by travels. However, I do make a point of steering clear of five star hotels and holiday resorts. And so, last year, I spent three months in Albania, staying in the very centre of Tirana in the house of seventy-year-old Leda. She was a remarkably placid, taciturn woman. Always dressed in black, as if she were mourning a loved-one’s death. I remember she could spend hours on end staring through the window and telling her rosaries. Every afternoon she would disappear for about four hours. That stirred up mu curiosity, and one evening at dinner I mustered mu courage to ask where she’d been going. At first, Leda froze, only to burst into tears a moment later. She eventually confessed that she had been visiting her son, Bledar, hospitalized in a mental institution. Bledar was once a head of a centre for spiritual development. He helped people and invited many spiritual teachers to hold classes on cleansing one’s body and soul, biotherapy, or hypnotic regression. It was there that he met Elena, soon to become his fiancée. He was not aware, however, that the girl had long been involved in black magic and Satanist rituals. Eventually, these practices drove her insane and lead her to suicide. After her death, Bledar would never be the same again. He closed down the centre and refused to leave home. Day after day, he would remain motionless in the lotus position and converse with his dead girlfriend. He seemed possessed. He developed a stutter, would often forget something spoken of just moments earlier or ask the same question five times in a row. His mother finally decided to consult specialists who diagnosed schizophrenia and locked him up in a hospital. The fact that some people are drawn to the practice of black magic was no news to me. What I did find baffling, however, was how a person devoted to spiritual and mental development could have ended up a schizophrenic. The more I got to know Leda, the more convinced I was that it had been the mother that pushed Bledar towards the interest in spiritual development. She had been far too emotional, too restrictive and bent on controlling her son’s behaviour. For years, she had been drugging herself with sleeping pills, crying and repeatedly telling her son that he would “be the end of her”. And there had never been a harder moment for her than when she heard him say “I have a mind of my own and will make my own decisions.” She had also gone to great lengths to control his fiancée, and when that failed, to turn the lovers against each other. Bledar must have felt cornered, lonely and misunderstood, all of which would have made him look for an escape in imaginary worlds. Overbearing parents often feel threatened by the perspective of losing control over their child, and thus will attempt to convince him, that any independence is highly dangerous. They manipulate him. Moreover, the continuously assault his mind with energetic and aggressive attacks. Their aim is to shatter self-confidence and belief in one’s own common sense (you’ll never make it, you’re wrong about everything, everyone’s just waiting to use you, they’re out to destroy you – especially if you don’t listen to what I say). A young person’s mind is forced to develop certain mechanisms to block out independent thought. He slowly becomes convinced that he is, indeed, a fool, and very rightfully ashamed of that very fact. A couple of days later, I joined Leda and went to visit her son. He told me that whenever he had felt the burden of being misunderstood by his family, he had looked for refuge in the unseen, in contacts with beings that eventually turned out to have been nothing but delusions. He also added that the hospital was full of people others would call crazy, but only in very few cases effort had been made to discover the true nature of their condition and the reasons that brought them there. To avoid issues with one’s mind, we need to adopt a positive attitude towards our own mental abilities. One needs to trust his own memory, his talents. And with positive self-assessment, there will always be a way to better use one’s mental and intellectual potential. Equally important is trying to mend one’s relationship with the closest family. Only then will further spiritual development be possible, based upon faith and divine guidance. As I left Tirany, I carried with me the knowledge that even in such warm and cosy corners of the world, where everything is seemingly enveloped in positive auras, one may fall victim to tricks of one’s own mind.

Madlen Namro.

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