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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 7-10
A larger than life persona who makes people feel immediately at ease


Correspondence Address:
Ravinder A Kala

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 22679351

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

Prof N.N. Wig is a handsome man with a warm smile. He makes people feel immediately at ease. My first meeting with Prof. Wig was in his office at Psychiatry Department, Post Graduate Institute (PGI), Chandigarh, in May 1973. My friend Anuradha and I were posted at Psychiatry Department, PGI for four months of internship from Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi University. We presented our papers at the tiny administrative office attached to the professor's office and were pleasantly surprised when we were called in within fifteen minutes. His warm smile immediately made us feel calm and confident and we could discuss the details of our training programme with an immense feeling of comfort.

I have had the honour of knowing Prof. Wig as a doctor, a teacher, a researcher and personally as a guide and mentor. During my training period, I found he was a doctor with immense compassion, concern and positive regard towards his patients. His body language, interviewing style, choice of accurate words and his humane approach towards patients were great learning experiences for the trainees. We would often hear the patients and their family members saying that half the illness just went away after meeting Dr. Wig and talking to. He had extremely busy outpatient days. But each patient went back satisfied with the faith that he would definitely recover because the great doctor had seen him.

Powerful Personality

He has a powerful personality and no one can remain untouched by his aura. During my training, Prof. Wig asked me to take up the very challenging case of a severely depressed girl who was admitted in the psychiatry ward. She didn't recover in spite of being in the ward for two weeks. I remember his expression of deep concern for the patient as he asked me to start the counselling process. I still remember his words when, while referring the patient, he told me that as a young girl, I may use empathy and try to enter her sad inner world to help her find a spark that could help her develop a wish to live. His words filled me with an inner urge to help the patient and to come to the wards in the evenings to assess her psychological state at different times. We all as a team were finally able to treat this patient and all of us seemed to be working through the compassion and concern experienced by our team leader, and enthused into us.

I came for my training under Prof. Wig fired with an ambition to be a successful counsellor and psychotherapist. At the Psychiatry Department of PGI, I found a very rich environment for learning. We all were in great awe of Prof. Wig, and he provided us with a number of suggestions, reading material and lectures, which made difficult concepts seem very easy. We also developed an obsession for researching each and every aspect of a topic before making any presentation. He encouraged us to develop a positive and helping attitude towards each other. So, if one person was working on a topic, everybody gave him/her further references whenever they found anything related to that topic. He encouraged group discussions and valued opinions expressed by each of us, which helped us mature into confident professionals.

I once remember coming to work 15 minutes late. Dr. Wig just looked at his watch and then looked at me. Even today, I remember that incident and it makes me punctual and organized in all my work schedules. He also has an extremely good sense of humour. Once a resident was late for the rounds and Prof. Wig greeted him by saying, "Good Afternoon!"

When I completed my training on 31 st August 1973, I was offered my first job by Prof. Wig. I started my career as a Research Assistant on a project with the Indian Council of Medical Research. Prof. Wig is an innovative researcher and has been actively involved in the research projects of ICMR and WHO. He is an honest researcher and whenever our research results differed from the reviewed literature, he helped us find the underlying reasons for these differences and this helped us develop an ability to look for newer insights into complex problems. In 1976, the Psychiatry Department, PGI, got international recognition as WHO Collaborating Centre for training and research in mental health due to the excellent research work done by Prof. Wig and his team. He started the Community Mental Health work in the villages of Raipur Rani Block in Haryana. I was fortunate enough to be associated with the Raipur Rani Project, which helped me developed the skills of working with the community. Raipur Rani became a model of Primary Mental Health Care Programme in India and in many other countries due to Prof. Wig's efforts.

In 1980, Prof. Wig became the Professor and Head of Psychiatry Department at All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and this gave him the distinction of heading two premier institutions of India. After that, he took long strides towards rare achievements in his career. He joined the World Health Organization in 1984 as a Regional Advisor, Mental Health and was in Alexandria, Egypt till 1990. During this period, he touched the lives of millions of people in 22 countries from Pakistan to Morocco in the Middle East, and North Africa. As a researcher, he has enriched Psychiatry with innovative work and has published over 300 scientific papers in different journals and books. He is on the Steering Committee of the World Psychiatric Association's International Programme to reduce stigma and discrimination due to mental illness. His contributions to the field of mental health have earned him a number of awards and we feel proud of our Professor's image in both the National and International arena.

Dr. (Ms.) Veena Wig

Prof. Wig and his beautiful, charming and artistic wife, Dr. (Ms.) Veena Wig have been an inspiration for all the people who have had the pleasure of interacting with them. Dr. (Ms.) Veena Wig is a Ph.D in Fine Arts and has continued to study and enhance herself after her marriage due to a supportive and caring husband. She is an compassionate and intelligent woman. She is a multifaceted personality with interest in arts and literature, and is today an eminent social worker of North India. She has been a role model and an inspiration for me. She has made a great contribution in shaping me as an individual.

Parties at home and Colourful T shirts too

There were departmental parties to welcome new people and to wish farewell to those leaving the department. This charming couple hosted these parties at home in order to give a personal touch to the professional relationships. These beautiful gestures of Prof. Wig created life-long bonds with him in us all. And then we had those departmental picnics where Prof. Wig used to wear colourful T shirts and participated with us in all group games. The memory of these picnics even today makes me feel immensely happy.

Prof. Wig's impressive personality also helped in attracting a lot of intelligent doctors towards Psychiatry and has helped in making Psychiatry popular and fashionable. Being a student of Prof. Wig has been a fortunate experience for me. It was the experience of being shaped completely as a professional with a sense of responsibility, discipline, work ethics and developing the personality of a therapist. All the students of Prof. Wig have been so similarly shaped by him, by his ethics and his values besides the clinical training.

I met my husband, Dr. Anirudh Kala in the Psychiatry Department of PGI. We got married and worked together at the Psychiatry Department of Goa Medical College, CMC, Ludhiana, and are still working as a team at our private Psychiatry Nursing Home.

We are grateful to Prof. Wig for shaping us as professionals and we still work with the professional approach, ethics and values given to us by him.

Today, as I look at Prof. Wig's persona, he seems larger than life. I wish him and his graceful wife, Dr. (Ms.) Veena, a happy, fulfilling and a long life. I will always be grateful to them for being such an inspiration in my life.


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