On the face of it, Vandana Dhir, 50, had it all: A successful career and a comfortable life. And that is why her arrest on charges of torturing her domestic help for over four months came as a surprise.
The Vasant Kunj resident is a classic example of a self-obsessed person venting out his or her negativity on a weakling, say experts.
“Such people get little space to be free from negativity as they have to put up a façade all the time. For them, their domestic helps, especially those working full-time, are safe targets as they know there will be no retaliation whatsoever,” said Dr Pulkit Sharma, clinical psychologist and psychoanalytical therapist, Imago- Centre for self.
These people end up having a split personality. “They enjoy controlling others but do not get a chance in the outside world. So they turn to their domestic helps to give vent to their pent up rage,” said Dr Sharma.
A section of experts also call the behaviour a result of an abnormal personality trait that may not be serious enough to be classified as a psychiatric problem.
“Certain people suffer from poor impulse control and low frustration tolerance. When they find a safe set-up, they take it all out. It could in one go or over a sustained period like in this particular case,” said a senior doctor from the department of psychiatry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“It’s actually a mix of socio-cultural and psychological problem as the concept of domestic helps in India largely is that they are people meant to serve, and can be treated in whatever way the employer pleases. They are hardly looked at as human beings,” he added.
According to the experts, the only solution to this problem is to empower domestic helps.
“Counselling such people can help but they will not go to a doctor on their own as they believe they are not doing anything wrong,” said Dr Sharma.