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- Published on 28 April 2015
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Formation and Early Years
Vijoy K. Varma
One of the major influences in my training as a psychiatrist was that of Dr. Robert A. Moore of the University of Michigan, USA. He was the Director of Residency Training while I trained there (1963-65). Dr. Moore was well-recognized as one the most famous researchers in the U.S. in alcohol and drug dependence. I was very much influenced by him as also by his colleague, Melvin Selzer in this area. Understandingly, I returned to India with a strong interest in alcohol and drug dependence. As it happened, there were other influences which propelled me in this direction.
Late 1960s and early 1970s were years of great turmoil on the global level. The cold war was at its height and the U.S. was in a no-win situation in Vietnam. A large proportion of the U.S. population was in open revolt against this war and rejected the political position of the U.S. administration. It rejected not only this war, but also the traditional values cherished by Americans. There was a large-scale rejection of traditional American values; the Western ethos and morals, along with the way of life. The American youth, particularly, expressed its revolt by breaking from the tradition in such things as dress, clothes, music, sexuality, etc., as evidenced by. It was the era of free sex and flower children, of a break from the traditional norms of the society. The conservative norms, such as in dress, were thrown to winds. Those of us who are of a certain age will remember the change. On my return to India in 1968, when I first went to the U.S. in 1973, I was so struck by the change. People wore their hair long, discarded the dreaded tie and general appeared less tidy.
One manifestation of this rebellion their attitude to drugs. This was the time of increased interest in drugs such as LSD, mescaline, cocaine and marijuana.