The Black Hole of the Mind, Part 2: Tragic Tales of Indian-American Physicians

SPECIAL TO USINDIAMONITOR: The below is excerpted, with permission, from a new book by Dr. K.P.S. Kamath, a psychiatrist and author with decades of experience helping many thousands of psych patients. Have you ever wondered how a runaway train wreck such as Donald could possibly happen? I have, quite a bit, and never fully comprehended how so much evil could grip such a big section of this country like so many brain-dead zombies sweeping across the land to devour new prey. However, Dr. Kamath serves as an able, expert guide at the micro level of an individual brain which I believed would be worthwhile for the readers of this site. Enjoy. But make sure you are sitting down first.

Chapter one was published here. In this next segment, we will veer into the lives and times of several Indian-American physicians.


C&C Mania and Money Mania are Nothing New in India

There are today in the U.S. hundreds of doctors like Dr. Raj Bothra, blissfully unaware of the law following them just a few steps behind. If you try to tell them to stop for a minute and think what they are doing, they would respond by four words: YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND. 

The point is the force of gravity of the Black Hole of the Mind is such that persons hurling toward it fueled by C&C and MM cannot be saved. They all end up destroying themselves. Very often, their children become rogues due to excessive money at their disposal. Excessive money does to children what excessive water does to potted plants. Their roots rot.  

These two Disorders of the Mind are nothing new in India. Scriptures illustrate them copiously. In fact, several Dharmas, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Upanishadism were created to counter these two disorders of the Mind, which invariably led people into the Black Hole of the Mind. 

When nomadic Arya tribes settled down along the River Ganga and Yamuna, gradually they became civilized. Tribal chiefs became kings and very wealthy. However, Brahmins remained poor though they were worshiped as holy. When Brahmins saw the riches of the kings, irresistible jealousy sprouted in their hearts. Let Lord Buddha explain it:

Suttanipāta (SN): 2:7:16-18: Then came their ruin. Seeing bit by bit their king expand (prosper), with his finely decked women, his well-wrought chariots yoked with thoroughbreds, his colorful stitching, his palaces and well-laid-out chambers, thriving with herds of cows, waited on by bevies of comely women, those Brāhmins began to covet that vast human luxury.

Begging for money was too demeaning to these holy Brahmins, who were highly respected in the society. Instead, they decided to corrupt Yajnas (fire sacrifices) and induce kings to perform them in return for hefty feels. They promised these kings that these corrupt Yajnas would give them greater wealth and dominance over other kings here on earth and heaven hereafter. 

Next thing you know, kings developed Comparing and Competing Mania as well as Money Mania. They performed bigger and bigger fire sacrifices and began to kill thousands upon thousands of animals, including cows, and occasionally even humans. They wanted their Yajnas greater than those of their adversaries. They performed increasingly complicated Yajnas -Ashvamedha, Rājasūya, Purisameda, Vājapeya… This was how corrupt Brahmins and Kshatriyas ruined the once noble Vedic Dharma, which came to be characterized by Falsehood and Violence. This led to the birth of Jainism, Buddhism and other Dharmas promoting exactly opposite doctrines as the decadent Vedic Dharma: Truth and Nonviolence.  

An enraged Bhāgavata poet blasts these unscrupulous Kshatriya ritualists in the Bhagavad Gita, as uttered by Lord Krishna:

16:10-17: Filled with insatiable desires, full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, holding evil ideas through delusion, they work (perform Yajna) with impure resolve. Beset with immense cares ending only with death, regarding gratification of lust as the highest, and feeling sure that that (gaining sense objects by Kāmya Karma) is all. Bound by a hundred ties of hope, given over to Kāma (lust for wealth and power) and Krodha (jealous rage against other kings), they strive to secure by unjust means (killing cows) hoards of wealth for sensual enjoyment. 


How a Brilliant Star Got Sucked into the Black Hole of the Mind

A 27-year old brilliant Indian doctor, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, India, landed in St. Louis, Missouri in 1975 to join a well-known hospital as an intern. Those days, there were hardly ten specialist doctors from Andhra in St. Louis, most of them in highly lucrative private practices. When they came to know that a new young doctor by the name of Reddy had arrived from Andhra, they invited him for dinner and parties. Being new in America, Dr. Reddy joyfully accepted their invitations.

During his visits to various doctors from Andhra, Dr. Reddy was awestruck by their lavish lifestyle. They all lived in palatial mansions, drove fancy cars and showed off their wealth in various ways. No doctors could lead such a lavish lifestyle unless they milked insurance companies and Medicare. Being new in America, Dr. Reddy lived in a small apartment in not-so-nice neighborhood. After a few booze-fueled parties with the well-heeled senior doctors, Dr. Reddy began to feel very insecure. Jealousy began to sprout in his heart. He began to lose sleep at night. He knew intellectually that those senior doctors had received specialty training for many years before they went into private practice, and that they had toiled a great deal to become very rich. That knowledge did not moderate his jealousy. He was in a big hurry to get rich.

The next year, Dr. Reddy joined the first-year surgical residency at a hospital in St. Louis. He realized that for him to become a specialist in a medical field, he would have to receive at least five more years of training. That was too long a time for him to wait to be rich like his senior friends. So, as soon as he finished his first-year surgical residency, he quit his training and began to look for a well-paying job as an Emergency Room physician. When he heard that St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a small town 120 miles south of St. Louis, was looking for their E.R., he applied for the job. He got the job and moved to Cape Girardeau in 1977. His annual income increased seven-fold immediately. However, he realized that even that income was nowhere close to what his senior friends made in St. Louis.

As Dr. Reddy was an affable guy, all the local doctors liked him. He brought his wife and two little children from India, and bought a nice house in an upscale neighborhood. When I first met him in September, 1977, he had been in Cape for hardly a few months. I could make out immediately that he did not consider psychiatrists as real doctors, though they all were Medical Doctors. Even though he was reasonably happy with his income, he began to brood over the income disparity between him and his friends in St. Louis. He had been a smoker for many years, but now his smoking got worse -four packs or more a day. Over the next three years, he continued to feel more and more jealous of his friends. He began to drink alcohol to calm himself. Gradually, his performance at work began to deteriorate. He slept poorly at night. He began to take some sleeping medication on a regular basis. Then he began to drink to calm his nerves. One day, I invited him for dinner at my home. He showed up four hours late and said that he already had his dinner. He said that just as he set out to come to my home, someone else invited him to go to McDonalds with him. So, he went to McDonalds and had a hearty meal. He did not express regret for his behavior. Instead he lighted up one cigarette after another and polluted my home so thoroughly that the smell of smoke lingered on for days. In the course of our conversation, it became obvious that now he was suffering from Comparing and
Competing Mania and Money Mania.

One day in 1982, I got a call from his boss. He said, “I need your help with Dr. Reddy. When he is on-call, the nurse cannot wake him up to see emergency patients. He is unconscious. Looks like he is all drugged-up. We had to call other doctors to see emergency patients. Do you have any suggestion?” I told Dr. Reddy’s boss, “I hardly know the guy. I have no moral authority over Dr. Reddy, as he does not think that I am a real doctor. My experience with him has been rather negative. I am sorry, there is nothing I can do about this matter.” I knew that Dr. Reddy would have silenced me with, “YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND” had I intervened. The boss said, “Well, this has gone on too long. I have no choice but to fire him. I just wanted you to know.” Shortly, Dr. Reddy was unceremoniously fired from his job. All the local doctors came to know what had happened.

Next thing you know, Dr. Reddy borrowed a lot of money from a local bank and opened a clinic named, Urgent Care. He decorated his office lavishly. He set up an operation unit in his clinic. He announced his name in huge gold letters on the front door of his office as well as the front entrance of the corridor. As he had the gift of the gab, he pleased his patients quite well. He began to admit a large number of patients to the two local hospitals. He performed unnecessary surgical procedures and tests. He began to submit huge bills to insurance companies as well as Medicare. Soon, money started pouring in. To impress his friends from St. Louis, he threw lavish parties for them. He parked two top model Mercedes cars, which he had leased, in his three-car garage to show them that he, too, had arrived. He deducted all the party expenses from his income tax returns as business expenses. He flew to India by first class, visited Tirupati temple, made a big donation to thank God for all the money he was making.

As he had anywhere from 25-30 patients in the hospital at any given time – most doctors had no more than 3- he had to make rounds after his clinic was closed for the night. To keep himself awake, he began to take mind-alerting drugs. He made rounds at the hospital after midnight, and did not mind waking up patients to talk. Back home early morning, he took some sleeping pills to catch 2- 3 hours of sleep. He had no time to brush his teeth or take a shower. He drank dark coffee and went to work at 7 A.M. Every time I met him, I was impressed by the brownish-yellow color of his teeth.

Then, planning to build a ten-bedroom and ten-bathroom mansion in an exclusive neighborhood, he hired a high-priced architect. He bought an expensive piece of land on borrowed money. He showed the blueprint of his planned mansion to his senior friends. All the while, his smoking, drinking and taking drugs increased steadily.

One day, when he was driving on windy road to his home after midnight, he fell asleep and drove his car into a deep ditch. A bone in his left forearm fractured. He had to be in a cast for a few weeks. That did not stop him from working, as his right arm was still functional. However, he had to take some opioids to control pain. Once his fracture healed, Dr. Reddy resumed his hectic practice to mint money. However, the skin wound over the fracture festered due to neglect. Dr. Reddy had a second accident on his way home after midnight, but that did not stop him from changing his habits, as by now Money Mania was in full swing. Things began to get steadily worse over the next couple of years. One day, I got a phone call from the president of the medical staff of one of the hospitals. He said, “I had to suspend Dr. Reddy’s privileges to operate because he fell asleep on a patient while operating. He had to be carried out of the surgical room hanging by his arms and legs. I think Dr. Reddy suffers from Manic Depressive Syndrome. He needs psychiatric help. Can you help him?”

“What makes you think that he suffers from Manic-Depressive Illness?” I asked.

“Well, he talks big, spends money recklessly, drives fancy cars… aren’t these symptoms of Manic-Depressive Illness?”

“Yes, but not in this case. This is a common disease we see in some people hailing from India. He has Money Mania and Comparing and Competing Mania. If you send him to see a psychiatrist, he will blow smoke up his arse and submit to you a clean certificate.”

To make long story short, Dr. Reddy saw a psychiatrist in St. Louis, submitted to the hospital his letter giving him a clean bill of mental health. So, the hospital decided that in order for him to work there, he needed to admit himself to a rehabilitation facility, specially designated to treat impaired doctors, in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Reddy had no choice but to comply. He went to Atlanta, stayed at the facility for two weeks, bullshitted the staff, and returned to Cape Girardeau. He bragged with friends that he had fooled everyone in Atlanta Rehab Center. Soon, Dr. Reddy faced a new crisis. The wound in his left forearm got infected. Doctors suspected that the wound was caused by him injecting himself drugs. Even though he received antibiotics for it, the skin died. He needed skin transplant on the area. So, the plastic surgeon attached his left forearm to his chest and attempted to transfer the chest skin to the forearm. So, for several weeks, his left arm could not be used. Nevertheless, he continued to work. He consulted a lawyer to see if he could cue the doctor who treated his skin infection. He was told that he could not.

During all these ordeals, his income began to decrease. The licensing board sent him for another stint of rehabilitation. Once again, he returned from the rehab bragging that he fooled everyone that there was nothing wrong with him. Several months passed. As his income from his practice became very small, he applied for disability. He had taken out a disability insurance a few years earlier. With the income from the disability insurance, he managed to support his wife and two growing children. Unable to face disgrace, he decided to move to another city about two hundred miles away where no one knew him. He tried to work in a clinic there, but his performance was so shoddy that they let him go. He tried to work at another clinic. That job also fell through. A few months later, he came to see me in my office. I was shocked by the way he looked. He was all skin and bones, and perhaps weighed not more than 80 pounds. He looked rather dark and emaciated. His face had shrunken and his eyes bulged from the sockets. As he stood before my desk, he removed from his wallet two health insurance cards, threw them on the desk and said, “You can charge whatever you want. You will get paid!”

Even though Dr. Reddy was facing death, his hubris had not diminished even a bit. I asked him what I could do for him. He said he was not sure. He said, “You think I am here to get narcotics from you?” I knew that it was too late for me to help this miserable man, especially because of his hubris and complete lack of self-awareness. The way he threw the insurance cards on the table was evidence that he thought I, too, suffered from Money Mania like him, and I would milk his insurance like he did. I told him that I was sorry there was not anything I could do for him. He left my office disappointed.

Three months later, I got the news that Dr. Reddy had died. The Black Hole of the Mind had sucked into its whirlpool another star caught in the swirl of C&C and Money Mania. (To be continued)

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