Criticspace Journals: Welcome to Criticspace Journals, Pulkit. First of all, congratulations on the publication of your book. How has the audience responded to the book so far?
Pulkit Sharma: Thanks a bunch! I feel deeply honored by the love and the applause given to When The Soul Heals — Explorations In Spiritual Psychology. Readers belonging to different age groups have written to me about how the book has given them a fresh perspective to understand and heal their emotional wounds. Moreover, many psychiatrists and psychologists in India and abroad have welcomed the book as an important contribution to the field of mental health.
Criticspace Journals: How did the idea of amalgamating psychology and spirituality into writing the book come to you?
Pulkit Sharma: As a practicing clinical psychologist, I have been very pensive about psychology’s sketchy understanding of human consciousness. Psychology bases its understanding of human mind on just three layers of consciousness. But consciousness is really vast and there are several realms influencing our thoughts, emotions and actions. I was on a lookout for practical methods to explore these layers of consciousness within the depths of our being. That’s when I started integrating spirituality and psychology in my work. The results were very encouraging, and I felt motivated to weave them into a book.
Criticspace Journals: How far did your own experiences inspire the stories you wrote?
Pulkit Sharma: Each chapter of the book starts with a story of a person struggling with a psychological disorder. Toward the end of the chapter, we get to know how this person reclaimed his or her life through spiritual methods. These stories are real and have been taken from my private practice. Only the names and the identifying information have been altered to preserve confidentiality of the clients.
Criticspace Journals: What are your views about psychology as an evolving genre in the field of writing?
Pulkit Sharma: Traditionally, the main writings in psychology appeared in academic books, psychology journals and theses — often limiting their existence to the dusty shelves of university libraries. With time, psychology began coalescing with literature and creating stories. This is natural because psychology is all about delving into the detailed real life and imaginary narratives of the people and weaving them into meaningful stories. Irvin Yalom’s book Every Day Gets a Little Closer is a wonderful case in point with the patient and the therapist writing down their memoirs of psychotherapy. Besides this, psychology slowly ventured into the genre of self-help books and there have been many remarkable books guiding the readers to move forward in life.
Criticspace Journals: As a psychologist, what is your basic message through the book?
Pulkit Sharma: I want the readers to know that perfect solutions to all kinds of emotional, psychological, personality, relational and behavioral problems exist within the depths of their being. There is no need to panic and lose hope. You all are blessed with an eternal healer — your soul. All that you need is a way to connect to this mystical healer and When The Soul Heals tells you how to go about it.
Criticspace Journals: How far do you think that the modern man is stressed according to your professional observations?
Pulkit Sharma: Although, generations before us had their own share of difficulties, our tribulations today appear to be far worse. The mayhem is everywhere: we dwell in noisy and polluted environments, confront shallow and broken relationships, work like machines, and live in societies that are becoming increasingly intolerant. Our bodies are wilted, minds are mired, and souls are gasping for fresh air. No wonder, chronic stress has turned into a global epidemic.
Criticspace Journals: How far do you think self-help books influence people? Do you agree this is an evolving genre?
Pulkit Sharma: Self-help books can be of great help to those who don’t have the time, inclination or the money to visit professional therapists. Some of these books are really amazing and offer wonderful guidelines. But there are others which lack the necessary scientific rigor and psychological depth. I hope that with the growing awareness on psychological issues, the genre of self-help books will continue to blossom.
Criticspace Journals: How did you decide on the issues you were going to write? Do you feel a book can be of some help in the absence of professional help?
Pulkit Sharma: Stress, anger, grief, anxiety, depression, addictions, beauty obsessions and caregiver burden are the most common problems I have seen in my career spanning 15 years. That’s why when I decided to write down a self-help book, it had to be around these issues. Although self-help books cannot substitute for professional help, they can empower the readers to think differently and lay down the foundations of a change.
Criticspace Journals: Are there any particular authors or books you enjoy reading?
Pulkit Sharma: I have a penchant for different genres of books. My most-loved books include: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song, Robert Stevenson’s Island Nights Entertainments and R.K. Narayan’s The Guide.
Criticspace Journals: Would you like to give any advice to budding writers?
Pulkit Sharma: I often see that quite a few budding writers want their first piece of writing to turn into a bestseller. I feel that such an intense pressure to make it big stifles their creativity and makes them restless. I would like to tell them to let their writing flow freely and not feel so burdened. Keep writing patiently and artistically, and hopefully bestsellers will happen.
Criticspace Journals: Please tell us about your future projects in writing.
Pulkit Sharma: I am currently working on a book chapter dedicated to Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga psychology along with my friend and colleague Anurag Prasad. This book will be released on the occasion of Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary.
Criticspace Journals: What would you like to say about contemporary writing?
Pulkit Sharma: There is an amazing array of diversity in contemporary writing with books covering both conventional and marginalized narratives equally well. Many people are feeling motivated to share their stories and we have an ever-increasing number of first-time authors. The literary world is getting better than ever.
Criticspace Journals: Thank you so much for sparing your time and answering the questions. All the best to you.
Pulkit Sharma: It was a pleasure talking to you. Hope to see you soon.