Sanjay Dutt’s children Iqra and Shahraan in the compound of their building on Thursday. (Fotocorp)
New Delhi, March 22: Sanjay Dutt’s possible return from home to a jail cell will no doubt be traumatic for the actor, but it could be a trifle less so than what most ordinary folk would have felt, psychiatrists and psychologists say.
The lows and highs that Sanjay has endured — his experiments with drugs, his earlier times in jail, his two divorces and his Bollywood successes — may have strengthened his coping mechanisms, they say.
The Supreme Court yesterday told Sanjay to serve out the remaining 42 months of his jail term, awarded for illegal arms possession in 1993.
If Sanjay fails to have the order stayed, he must leave his wife and children and spend a long time in the company of strangers in the testing conditions of a jail.
“Incarceration will always be traumatic,” said Anjali Chhabria, a consultant psychiatrist in Mumbai and former head of the Bombay Psychiatric Society. “There’s little anyone can do to prepare for this; but once inside, there are ways to cope, go through with it, and come out well.”
Psychologists believe that Sanjay would remain a celebrity even in prison although that might not always lead to positive experiences.
“He will stand out all the time from the other prisoners,” said Dr Prachi, a consultant clinical psychologist who uses a single name and works at the Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.
“If an unknown person goes to jail, no one knows him. Here you stand out in a negative way and everyone knows you. That can be difficult,” she said.
How Sanjay deals with a fresh round of imprisonment, doctors say, would depend on his coping abilities. Some believe that his previous periods in prison and traumatic life experiences might allow him to cope better.
“He could handle this a bit better than someone, even a celebrity, who’s had a relatively more stable life,” said Jamuna Rajeswaran, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore.
But, psychologists say, the degree of the stress or trauma experienced by a person in jail also hinges on individual personality traits. A person with close attachments to family and friends would obviously find it more difficult than someone with weaker bonds, Rajeswaran said.
Dr Prachi said research studies suggest that multiple traumatic events, at times, may combine to increase a person’s vulnerability to stress and raise the risk of a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder.
While incarceration is bound to be a difficult period, psychiatrist Chhabria said, one way to cope would be to “live in the moment, remember the good times, survive and look forward to coming out again”.