The Buddhist Jātaka Stories and the DSM based Mental Disorders
Posted on September 28th, 2014

Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.

That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”  Erich Fromm

The Jātaka stories or Jātaka tales are a voluminous body of folklore concerned with previous births of the Buddha which is based as a collection of five hundred and fifty stories. Originally it comprise of 547 poems, arranged roughly by increasing number of verses. According to archaeological and literary evidence, the Jātaka stories were compiled in the period, the 3rd Century B.C. to the 5th Century A.D. The Khuddaka Nikāya contains 550 stories the Buddha told of his previous lifetimes as an aspiring Bodhisattva or a person who is compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others and is worshipped as a deity in Mahayana Buddhism.

According to Professor Rhys Davids Jātaka stories are one of the oldest fables. Rev Buddhaghosa who was a 5th century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and a scholar translated most of the Jātaka stories into Pāli about 430 A.D. Jātaka stories can be considered as case studies of the Buddhist philosophy. These case studies converse about the dynamics of the human mind and human behavior in different circumstances. Jātaka stories profoundly discuss thoughts and actions of the Akusal (sinful) or pathological mind. Astoundingly most of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) based mental ailments could be identified in the Jātaka stories. It discusses deep psychological themes and analyses the human mind. The Consultant Psychiatrist Dr D.V.J Harischandra FRCP (Psych) in his famous book Psychiatric Aspects of Jātaka Stories that was published in 1998, points out that the Western Psychologists and Psychiatrists should study the essences of mind analysis in the Jātaka Story Book.

Jātaka Stories and the Western World

Among the Westerners Professor Rhys Davids Ph.D., LL. D., of London, Secretary of the Asiatic Society studied the historical and cultural context of the Jātaka stories and he translated a large number of stories in 1880. Professor E. B. Cowell, Professor of Sanskrit in the University of Cambridge, brought out the complete edition of the Jātaka stories between 1895 and 1907. Also Oskar von Hinüber- Professor of Indology at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg did a vast study on Jātaka stories. Professor Roderick Ninian Smart (the University of California, Santa Barbara) introduced the seven-part definition of religion and thoroughly researched on the Buddhist philosophy.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the APA or the American Psychiatric Association and it provides broad symptomatology and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. It has been considered as the Bible of psychiatry. The first version of DSM was published in 1952. The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is known as DSM-IV-TR (Text Revision) and it was published in 2000. DSM-IV-TR recognizes the impact of culture on psychological health within a biopsychosocial framework. The diagnostic criteria now reflect a focus on behavioural symptomatology and suggest the importance of drug-management in therapy over psychotherapy (Shorter, 1997). The fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-5 appeared officially in May 2013 during the development of the 166th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in San Francisco (Márquez , 2014).

It’s important to know that the Buddhist Jātaka stories deeply touch the DSM based mental illnesses. The Jātaka stories were a form of teaching approach which used the case method. This method consists in presenting the disciples with a case and did descriptive, exploratory analysis of a person, his mental state, actions and consequences. The Buddha knew the power of storytelling. The Buddha used such stories to heal people with emotional and spiritual problems. These stories gave insight and created Aha moments.

According to René Descartes mind and body are really distinct and Descartes believed that the nature of the mind is completely different from that of the body The Buddhism does not divide mind and body. The Jātaka stories indicate how mind affects the body reveling numerous case studies.

The Neurologist António Damásio (1994) intensely discussed Descartes’ Error. He assessed the mind/body dualism question. He argues that René Descartes’ “error” was the dualist separation of mind and body, rationality and emotion. In Buddhist Psychotherapy mind and body are no two different entities. There is no sense in Buddhism that the body is a “vessel” that is guided or inhabited by the mind or spirit. Rather, the body and mind combine and interact in a complex way to constitute an individual (Wilson, 2004) The Buddhist Philosophy teaches the mind is supreme and it can have a profound impact on the body. The Jātaka stories provide numerous case studies of psychogenic ailments which have somatic impacts.

The Human Mind

The human mind can be viewed as a cluster of functions that are developed and shaped by the ongoing interaction between man and his surroundings (MIELI). The Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of not-self which postulates that human beings are reducible to the physical and psychological constituents and processes which comprise them (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

In general, the mind can be defined as an entity that has the nature of mere experience, that is, “clarity and knowing.” It is the knowing nature, or agency that is called mind and this is non-material. But within the category of mind there are also gross levels, such as our sensory perceptions, which cannot function or even come into being without depending on physical organs like our senses. And within the category of the sixth consciousness, the mental consciousness, there are various divisions, or types of mental consciousness that are heavily dependent upon the physiological basis, our brain, for their arising. These types of mind cannot be understood in isolation from their physiological bases (Dalai Lama).

The Jātaka stories help to understand the dynamics of the human mind by giving a variety of stories. These stories highlight how human mind perceives ideas. How mind reacts in extreme situations. The Buddhist doctrine emphasize that all things are preceded by the mind, led by the mind, created by the mind.

 Mental Disorders and the influence of Buddhist Jātaka stories

In general terms a mental disorder is a psychological or behavioral pattern that is associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual and which are not a part of normal development or culture. The mental disorder is characterized by impairment of an individual’s normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma.

Buddhism is a religion that deeply discusses human mental process. Human mind has a special place on Buddhist philosophy. There is no other religion that has gone in depth to analyze the human mind than Buddhism. Buddhist philosophy talks about the human mind and its pathological and non-pathological portions.

The Buddhist Jātaka stories describe various types of mental disorders and how it affects the individual as well as the society. For centuries these stories helped the people to treat individuals with mental illnesses with utmost compassion. There is no evidence of persecution of psychiatric patients in the ancient Buddhist societies.

In the Medieval Europe, psychiatric patients were often targeted as the agents of Satan and subjected to torture and execution.  Mentally ill women were often burnt at the stake as witches. As indicated by Schoeneman (1982 ) the psychopathological interpretation of the European witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries, which has been prominent in histories of psychiatry, contends that demonology overwhelmed psychiatry in the late middle Ages, with the result that the mentally ill were executed by the thousands as witches. The witch hunts of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe impeded psychiatric progress for centuries (Schoeneman , 1977).

In his famous book Gendercide and Genocide by Prof Adam Jones of the international studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City writes thus.

…….. for three centuries of early modern European history, diverse societies were consumed by a panic over alleged witches in their midst. Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe, resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims; about three-quarters of victims were women. Arguably, neither before nor since have adult European women been selectively targeted for such largescale atrocities. Modern estimates suggest perhaps 100,000 trials between 1450 and 1750, with something between 40,000 and 50,000 executions, of which 20 to 25 per cent were men. (Gendercide and Genocide – Adam Jones)

The humane way of treating mental patients started in Europe mainly with the reformations introduced by Dr Philippe Pinel (1745- 1826) and he initiated moral treatment for the psychiatric patients. Many centuries before Philippe Pinel the Buddhist societies in Asia treated psychiatric patients with empathy. The mentally ill were never persecuted or isolated from the society. The Jātaka stories may have had a weighty effect on de-stigmatizing metal disorders.  For centuries, these stories helped the people to view individuals with mental illnesses with a compassionate eye.

 Psychoanalysis and Jātaka Stories

Psychoanalysis was introduced by Sigmund Freud in which free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of resistance and transference are used to explore repressed or unconscious impulses, anxieties, and internal conflicts. Some experts view that the Freudian Psychoanalysis as a subject which is incomplete. According to Wax (1983) the scientific status of psychoanalysis has been the subject of continual debate. Influential philosophers of science have challenged the form of its theories and the nature of the evidence offered on their behalf. Some have concluded that the theories are beyond testing

The renowned Sri Lankan Literary genius Martin Wicramasinghe D.Lit. argues that the Psychoanalysis was initiated not by Freud but by the Jātaka Storyteller. Martin Wicramasinghe gives solid examples to qualify his opinion. Wicramasinghe intensely wrote on Buddhist Jātaka stories. In his books The Buddhist Jataka Stories and the Russian Novel (published in 1952) and Jataka Katha Vimasuma (The Literary Aspects of Buddhist Jātaka Stories) published in 1968 Martin Wicramasinghe shows the mind analysis that shown in the Jātaka stories. The Jātaka storyteller revealed and analyzed the noble to ignoble characteristics of the human psyche. The Jātaka storyteller knew the complexity of the human mind. He described the human behavior in vivid situations. He knew the internal mental conflicts, repressions and hysteria type of behavior that people exhibited. A vast amount of abnormal behaviors were recorded in form of stories by the Jātaka storyteller. The Jātaka stories represent a broad structure of mental phenomena.

The Psychoanalysts such as Erich Fromm and Karen Horney studied the Psychoanalytic component in the Buddhist philosophy. According to Erich Fromm psychoanalysis is not a therapy of commitment but rather an approach that liberates people from the type of commitment required by traditional religion and other social institutions. The Buddha helped to liberate people from emotional bondages and oppressed social conditions two millennia ago.  Unlike the Freudian psychoanalysis the Buddhist psychoanalysis has a profound spiritual dimension and it extensively focuses on the deeper existential questions. Freud believed that the inner layers of the human personality consist of irrational and savagery wishes. In contrast the Buddha believed in the positive aspects of the human personality and its capabilities. The Buddha preached that the human have the capacity for self growth and achieve higher spiritual level (Jayatunge, 2014).

Hysteria Types of Reactions Described in the Jātaka Stories

Hippocrates (5th century BC) is the first to use the term hysteria. Indeed he also believes that the cause of this disease lies in the movement of the uterus (Sigerist, 1951).

The Webster’s dictionary defines Hysteria as a psychiatric condition variously characterized by emotional excitability, excessive anxiety, sensory and motor disturbances, or the unconscious simulation of organic disorders. Jean Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, Freud, and Joseph Breuer comprehensively wrote on hysteria.

Sigmund Freud provided a contribution that leads to the psychological theory of hysteria and the assertion of a male hysteria (Tasca, 2012). Sigmund Freud saw a traumatic experience in childhood that is uniformly of a sexual nature as general aetiology of hysteria. Freud’s famous case study of Anna O (Bertha Pappenheim ) suffered from a rigid paralysis, accompanied by loss of sensation, of both extremities on the right side of her body over a two years. Anna O was the classic study of Hysteria.

The DSM- IV -TR distinguishes hysteria under Somatoform Disorders and the Dissociative Disorders. Somatoform disorders are psychological ailments that cause bodily symptoms, including pain and numbness. The symptoms can’t be traced back to any physical cause. And they are not the result of substance abuse or another mental illness. Dissociative disorders (DD) are conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity or perception. There are numerous Somatoform and Dissociative Disorders are discussed in the Jātaka stories.

The Vibhanga Atuwawa – a Buddhist scripture part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism describes vibrant neurotic features that are perceptible in laymen. The Jātaka stories give numerous case examples of neurotic behavior.

The Prince Asanaga – a character that was described in Chula Phalobhana Jātaka Story suffers from Gyenachophobia or an abnormal, irrational and persistent fear of women. He fears and avoids women from childhood. From birth to the adulthood, he was in the company of males and never had a chance to associate women. Accidentally he got acquainted with a woman and experiences an erotic relationship with her. His suppressed sexual desires emerge like a volcano and the Prince Asanaga goes in to an acute stress reaction. He becomes violent and attacks the men on the street with his sword. The Jathaka storyteller colourfully describes the inner mental conflict of the Prince Asanaga and his fears, anxiety, sudden desire and the acute emotional reaction.

In addition the Jātaka Storyteller narrates numerous stories of psycho- physiological manifestations (psychogenic skin rashes, psychogenic sexual dysfunctions, and psychogenic paralyses) found in men and women. According to these Jātaka stories the Akusal or the guilty based mind is responsible for such manifestations.  In one of the stories a guilty ridden Count experiences sexual impotence and subsequently a sex change.

The Oedipal Conflict and Jātaka Stories 

In the Oedipus myth we find a dramatic representation of the child’s passionate ties to its parents (Zachrisson, 2013). In formulating his psychology of the unconscious, Freud makes constant reference to Sophocles’ version of the Oedipus myth (Bollack, 1993).

As Freud described in the Oedipus complex, largely unconscious ideas and feelings, which concentrate, on the desire to possess the parent of the opposite sex and eliminate the parent of the same sex. Freud analyzed the story of Oedipus Rex, and describes the unconscious motives of patricide He postulated that patricide was the great crime at the base of all social evolution.

The universality of the Oedipus complex indicates that the oedipal situation is at the heart of the mental life of man (Lebovici, 1982). The Thayo Darma Jātakaya is a story about the conflict between a father and a son. The father (King of the monkeys) destroys the genitals of male baby monkeys in order to liquidate any impending future threat by a male monkey. One of the male baby monkeys was able to escape physically unharmed and grows up in a hidden area of the jungle. The male baby monkey’s mother secretly feeds him. Hence the male monkey becomes emotionally closed to its mother.  Once the monkey becomes a fully grown adult monkey, he comes out and challenges his father. In this conflict, the son kills the father and becomes the new King.

Sexuality Discussed by the Jātaka Storyteller

Many centuries before Sigmund Freud, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, Albert Moll or D.H. Laurence the Tantric Buddhist monks discussed the wider aspects of human sexuality.

Tantric is often viewed as the third major school of Buddhism, Tantric philosophy has a complex, and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice which evolved over several centuries and encompasses much inconsistency and a variety of opinions. (Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004)

Based on the general definition human sexuality is how people experience the erotic and express themselves as sexual beings; the awareness of themselves as males or females; the capacity they have for erotic experiences and responses. Sexuality varies greatly by culture, region, and historical period, but in most societies and individuals has a large influence on human behavior.

The Jātaka stories view sexuality as an essential component in the human existence. It accepts sexuality as a normal human condition. But the Jātaka stories highlight impermanence, suffering and non-self.

According to Adler (2011) doctors and sexologists increasingly medicalized and pathologized sexual and gender deviance. Foucault’s History of Sexuality is based on his view that the discursive practices in the medical community created deviant identities, and produced and regulated sex practices starting in the late nineteenth century (Adler, 2011).

The Kachappa Jātakaya (storyline) narrates a homosexual relationship between two ministers of the King Pasenadi Kosol’s Court. However the Buddhist philosophy does not consider gays as sinners. There is no precept or decree in Buddhism that condemn LGBT people and their rights.

In 1952, in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the manual issued by the American Psychiatric Association for the classification of mental disorders, homosexuality was included under the category sociopathic personality disturbances” – not as a true pathology or disease. The second edition of the DSM, issued in 1968, re-classed homosexuality as a non-psychotic mental disorder”, effectively making it a disease (Young, 2011).

Powell and Stein (2014) indicate that the United States has recently made significant and positive civil rights gains for LGB people, including expanded recognition of marriages between people of the same sex. Among the central tropes that have emerged in the struggle for the rights of LGB people are that they are “born that way,” that sexual orientations cannot change, and that one’s sexual orientation is not affected by choice.

Although the attitudes towards homosexuality have become more liberal, particularly in industrialized Western countries, there is still a great deal of variance in terms of the worldwide levels of homonegativity (Jäckle & Wenzelburger , 2014). Disapproval of homosexuality is the cause of tremendous suffering among sexual minorities (Nguyen& Blum, 2014). It’s significant to know that over 2500 years ago the Buddha had a democratic view and profound understanding about the LGBT community.

In the Jātaka story book -Nalini Jātakaya describes broad aspects of human sexuality. It is a story of a young hermit who lived in a jungle since his birth and never had seen or heard of women. He had not heard of sexual relationships between men and women and when the young Princess Nalini comes to his hermitage, he could not recognize her as a member from the opposite sex. With an erroneous assumption he thought that the Princess Nalini was a hermit like him. The princess deceived the hermit and made him to commit a sexual act. So the young hermit eventually experienced a physical relationship with a woman for the first time in his life. In this story the narrator deeply explore the primal sexual reaction of a human male who was deprived of prior sexual education and sex initiation by a female.

The Sexual arousal is stunningly described in the Haritha Jātakaya. By seeing a naked female body the hermit who practiced sexual abstinence for his life time could not resist the sudden erotic feeling and he eventually commits adultery. His suppressed sexual desires come in to action like a serpent coming out of a den. In this story the hermit’s sexual arousal is extensively described.

Sexual arousal, or sexual excitement, is the arousal of sexual desire during or in anticipation of sexual activity. Oh (2012) and colleagues indicate distinct brain activation patterns associated with visual sexual arousal. For the hermit (in Haritha Jātakaya) it was an unexpected visual sexual arousal.  Many years he had practiced voluntary celibacy. His erotic desires were suppressed but when he saw the naked woman’s body his sexual response became overpowering.

Sexual Jealousy

Jealousy is a universal feeling. The feeling is normal until it is acted upon and the behaviour or actions become irrational. Many psychologists believe that in human males, sexual jealousy is often marked by violence and consistent attempts to restrict the sexual behavior of women.

Staske (1999) views Jealousy as an inherently relational emotion. The common conceptualization of jealousy is viewed as a perceived or actual threat to the exclusive nature of a romantic relationship (White & Mullen, 1989; Bevan &   Hale, 2006). Jealousy is an aversive and psychologically stressful condition. Evolutionary psychologists hypothesized that jealousy is an evolved adaptation, activated by threats to a valuable relationship, functioning to protect it from partial or total loss (Buss & Haselton, 2005).

Sexual jealousy functions to defend paternity confidence (Daly et al., 1982). According to Buss (2013) Sexual jealousy is a basic emotion.  Jealousy invokes low self-esteem, immaturity or character defects (Bhugra, 1993). Buunk and colleagues (1987) illustrate that sexual jealousy in humans is an emotion of jealousy which may be triggered in a person when a sexual partner displays sexual interest in another person.

The specific innate modular theory of jealousy hypothesizes that natural selection shaped sexual jealousy as a mechanism to prevent cuckoldry, and emotional jealousy as a mechanism to prevent resource loss. Therefore, men should be primarily jealous over a mate’s sexual infidelity and women over a mate’s emotional infidelity (Harris, 2003).

There are several Jātakaya stories exemplify sexual jealousy in males. For instance in Parvakuthha Jathakaya a King becomes extremely jealous when he realized one of his queens committed a sexual infidelity with a minister. The King is experiencing extreme emotional pain, feelings of betrayal, outrage and fear. His violent outbursts and obsessive thoughts are evident.  The King believes that his personal, sexual and romantic relationship with the queen is now being threatened and he seeks revenge. Similarly the Memadha Jathakaya too contains a story about Sexual jealousy.

In Chulla Darmapala Jātakaaya the King Prathapa kills his infant son following sexual jealousy. King Prathapa was infuriated when he noticed his beautiful Queen cared for the infant Prince without paying attention to him. The King perceives mother-infant interaction with extreme hostility. Following anger and sexual jealousy he orders to kill the infant Prince.

 The Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)

In the last 50 years new research into the sociology, psychology and physiology of sexuality has provided an understanding of decreased libido and inadequate sexual response in the form of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. (Studd, 2007). The Jātaka storyteller describes complex behavioural components of a young man named Pinguthara who exhibits firm features of Hypoactive sexual desire disorder. The Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is considered as a Sexual Dysfunction and is listed under the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders of the DSM-IV DSM-IV. It is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. According to the story Pinguthara was a young man (described in the Siri Kalakanni Jātakaya ) who suffered from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. He had no interest in his newly wedded beautiful wife Udumbara Devi. He finds no erotic satisfaction in her and the wife becomes a burden to him. He abandoned her and fled due to lack of interest in women.

Borg and de Jong (2012) view Sex and disgust are basic evolutionary relevant functions that are often construed as paradoxical and in  general the stimuli involved in sexual encounters are at least out of context strongly perceived to hold high disgust qualities. The young man -Pngutthara in Ummaga Jātakaya and the hermit in Haritha Jātakaya have two opposite reactions when they encounter females.

Incest and Jātaka Stories

Incest refers to any sexual activity between close relatives often within the immediate family irrespective of the ages of the participants and irrespective of their consent that is illegally or socially taboo. Incest is considered as the oldest crime. During the Middle Ages the meaning of incest was paradoxical: when used literally, the word signified the abominable sin of consanguineous sex; when represented allegorically, it signified a mystical union with God (Donavin, 1993).

A significant number of researchers conclude that there is no demographic profile of incestuous fathers. Rather they are a complex, heterogeneous group of individuals who look like everyone else (Groth, 1982; Meiselman, 1978; Smith & Saunders, 1995).  Cohen (1983) believes that incestuous fathers may also have acquired the incestuous behaviour through social learning.

Psychoanalysts contend that incest occurs when the daughter suffers from oral deprivation in the pre-oedipal stage. An incestuous relationship with her father is then established as revenge against her mother, who frustrated her oral needs and simultaneously as a way of satisfying her oral needs. The daughter substitutes the father’s penis for the mother’s breast, which had been denied to her (Dixen & Jenkens, 1981).

The Seggu Jātakaya of the Jātaka story book reveals the socially forbidden subject of incest. According to this Jātaka story a father takes his young daughter to the jungle and tries to molest her in order to verify her purity. He wants to know whether his daughter had a premarital sexual activity with someone.  During the attempt the daughter becomes frighten and cries in fear and shame. She persistently tells the father that she is inexperienced in sexual relations. Finally the father realizes that his daughter is a virgin and then tells her about his real intentions.

Although in Seggu Jātakaya the father’s motives were not to molest his own daughter it raises a numerous questions. What would have been the father’s action if he found that the daughter was not a virgin? Then she would have been subjected to real incest or honor based killing.

According to the feminists view incest is a forceful act performed by men who control and subordinate their spouses and their children (Barret, Trepper &  Fish, 1990).  The feminists argue that father-child incest is a product of a patriarchal family structure (Vander Mey & Neff, 1986).

The Jātaka Storyteller was well aware of the social forces existed in his ancient patriarchal society. Nevertheless he did not view women as sexual objects. He shows deep compassion for the woman who is frightened and helpless.  On the other hand he intensely describes the complex mental state of the father. The Jātaka Storyteller implies that the father had an underlying motive to molest his daughter if she was not a virgin.


Humans show a wide array of sexual preferences and behaviors. Although most humans prefer and have sex with consenting adults of the opposite sex, some individuals have unconventional preferences with regard to the sex or age of sexual partners, or with regard to the nature of sexual activities (Earls & Lalumière  , 2002).

A paraphilia is a condition in which a person’s sexual arousal and gratification depend on fantasizing about and engaging in sexual behaviour that is atypical and extreme.  Stuart (2012) suggests that paraphilia definitions are based on perceived deviations from inappropriate perfectionist ideals of sexual norms. The German Psychiatrist Richard Von Krafft-Ebing identified paraphilias   in 1886. His famous book Psychopathia Sexualis (Sexual Psychopathy) describes numerous paraphilias.

Conversely Prior to Richard Von Krafft-Ebing the Jātakaya Storyteller illustrated a number of paraphilias that were found in the ancient Indian society. For instance Baka Jātakaya describes a King who had suggestive features of Salirophilia. The King is attracted to hideous woman called Panchapapa.

Moreover the Jātaka stories describe Fetishism in a young man named Kema.  Fetishism is a paraphilic sexual disorder characterized by recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors involving the use of nonliving objects (Firoz et al., 2014) Oğuz and Uygur (2005) indicate that underlying personality disorders extending through childhood are thought to be the source of the etiology in Fetishism. Kema obtains sexual arousal by stealing sandals that belonged to a young and attractive Princess. Kema is attracted to the Princess. But his fears and inner mental conflicts prevent him meeting the Princess. But he gratifies his erotic desires keeping her pair of sandals.

Psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel (1930) contrasted what he called “normal fetishes” from extreme interests: “They become pathological only when they have pushed the whole love object into the background and themselves appropriate the function of a love object, e.g., when a lover satisfies himself with the possession of a woman’s shoe and considers the woman herself as secondary or even disturbing and superfluous.

Sexual addiction is a form of compulsive sexual behavior in which the individual is unable to control their sexual urges, behaviors, or thoughts (Coleman, 2003).

In 1987 the APA’s Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-III-R) added for the first time the concept of sexual addiction as a specific descriptor that might be applied under the more general diagnosis of Sexual Disorders NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) (Weiss,2012).

According to Wölfle (2010) the phenomenon of sexual addiction as a clinical syndrome is discussed controversially. The frequency distribution of specific Hypersexual Disorder in females has been inadequately studied (Kafka, 2010).

In the past, medical attitudes to female sexuality were grotesque, reflecting the anxiety and hypocrisy of the times. In the medieval world, the population feared hunger, the devil, and women, being particularly outraged and threatened by normal female sexuality (Studd & Schwenkhagen, 2009). The 19th century medical attitude to normal female sexuality was cruel, with gynecologists and psychiatrists leading the way in designing operations for the cure of the serious contemporary disorders of masturbation and nymphomania (Studd, 2007).

The word ‘nymphomania’, the concept of ‘madness from the womb’ and the belief in the existence of a behaviour consisting in an abnormally high female sexual drive converged during the second half of the seventeenth century to give rise to a new clinical category which, with minor changes, has survived until the present -e.g., in ICD-10 ( Berrios & Rivière  , 2006).

The Jātaka stories describe individuals with extreme desire of carnal pleasure. For example Maha Kunala Jātakaya portrays of a Princess named Krishna who had suggestive features of Nymphomania or Sexual addiction. The Vennukuna Jātakaya indicates a princess who had an intense sexual desire for a man with an extreme physical defect. She abandons her husband and lives with a man with hunchback.

Zoophilia is a paraphilia whereby the perpetrator gets sexual pleasure in having sex with animals (Aggrawal , 2011). Zoophilia has lost its character as a severe mental disorder. (Dittert et al., 2005). Earls and Lalumière (2007) describe a case of zoophilia that challenges the widely held assumptions that men who have sex with animals are generally of below average intelligence and come from rural areas. Also they state that zoophilia is not as rare as once thought and shares many features with other atypical sexual interests. Dittert and colleagues (2005) stress that zoophilia shows a variety of manifestations. The subject’s desire to be transformed into the animal he or she has contact with can be understood as a narcissistic compound and is not related to lycanthropia.

The famous Kinsey reports on the sexual behavior of the American male and female also include data on sexual contacts with animals. Kinsey and his colleagues interviewed about 5300 adult, white men and 5800 adult, white women about their sexual experiences. Although the objectivity of the methods employed is sometimes criticized, the studies provide important information. Kinsey and his colleagues found that in rural areas about 40 to 50% of the males had had at least one sexual encounter with an animal, and 17% had even experienced an orgasm as a result of sexual contact with animals during adolescence. Amongst all the American men in the study, however, the prevalence was much lower, about 8% (Kinsey, Pomeroy & Martin, 1948; Beetz, 2005).

The Jātaka Storyteller vividly describes the Zoophilia (Bestiality) tendency of the Queen Mallika who had a sexual encounter with an animal. As the King observes from the upper floor his queen is having a physical relationship with a dog. He becomes puzzled and thinks that it was an optical illusion. Later the Queen Mallika tricks the King and convinces him that it was a misapprehension. However the in her death bed the Queen Mallika recollects this event and her final thoughts become impure.

Sexual Sadism and Masochism

Krafft-Ebing coined the term ‘masochism. Prior to that Albert von Schrenck Notzing used the term ‘algolagnia’ to refer to sexual pleasure derived from pain. Algolagnia included sexual humiliation, subjection, and the desire to be under the power of another (Walters, 2012).

Sexual sadism and masochism were described in Vatsyayana’s   Kama Sutra that was written many centuries ago. Sadistic and masochistic behavior became known in 1498 when the Italian philosopher Pico della Mirandola described a man who needed to be flogged before sex (Farin 1990).

The word sadism came from the life and the writings of the French author Marquis De Sade, such as The 120 Days of Sodom. The word masochism was taken from the works of one of his contemporaries, the Austrian author, Leopold von Sacher Masoch (Grenci, 2006).

In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) Freud described the tendency to inflict and receive pain during sexual intercourse as the most common and important of all perversions”, and that both psychosexual tendencies usually occur in the same person. That masochism is a form of sadism against the Self, and that sadism and masochism are manifested variously as primary masochism” and secondary masochism”, and as the subordinate forms of feminine masochism” and moral masochism”.

Some of the Jātaka stories discuss sexual sadism and masochism. For instance in Undha Bhutha Jātakaya a young wife derives sadistic satisfaction by hitting her blindfolded husband and also humiliating him while having a sexual intercourse with her young lover.

Personality Disorders Described in the Jātaka Stories

Many Personality Disorders are described in the Jātaka Stories. Personality disorders involve patterns of behavior, mood, social interaction, and impulsiveness that cause distress to one experiencing them, as well as to other people in their lives.  Many of these behaviors may cause severe disturbance in the individual’s personal and work life. In general, individuals with personality disorders have difficulty with close, intimate or attachment relationships. They experience chronic interpersonal problems, have difficulties in establishing a coherent sense of self or identity, and may be seen to be impulsive, irritable, fearful, demanding, hostile, manipulative, and even violent (CAMH).

According to the APA a personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.

For the DSM-5 criteria for a Personality Disorder requires impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment (American Psychiatric Association).

 According to Bierer and colleagues (2003) that childhood emotional abuse and neglect are broadly represented among personality disorders, and associated with indices of clinical severity among patients with borderline personality disorder. Childhood sexual and physical abuses are highlighted as predictors of both paranoid and antisocial personality disorders. Several studies have provided strong evidence that personality disorders (PD) represent a significant clinical risk for violence (Esbec, 2010).

The Kshanthivadi Jātakaya depicts a character who bears psychological criteria that is similar to the Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). The APD is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. Lack of remorse, poor behavior control, Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others, aggressive violent behavior, are more common in Antisocial Personality Disorder.

The Kshanthivadi Jātaka story narrates negative characteristics of an aggressive King name Kalabu. The King Kalabu became angry when he saw Kshanthivadi Hermit was giving a sermon to his harem women. Out of anger and sexual jealousy the King Kalabu orders his men to torture the hermit. With the King’s orders, the executioner cuts the hands, and legs of the Hermit. But the Hermit shows no anger. It ignites the King’s anger further he orders to kill the hermit.

The King demonstrates swallowed emotions, a distorted sense of self, manipulation of others without remorse or empathy for the victim, egocentrism, lack of responsibility, extroversion, excessive hedonism, high impulsivity, and the desire to experience sensations of control and power. He truly fits in to APD criteria.

The King Kalabu ’s lack of empathy was much similar to the NAZI s who exterminated millions of men women and children. The Psychologist Gustave Gilbert interviewed a number of NAZI leaders (including Hermann Göring) at the Nuremberg trial after the WW2. According to Gustave Gilbert NAZI s lacked empathy.

The Western Psychology has limited answers to explain the reaction of the Kshanthivadi Hermit. Although he was subjected to unspeakable torture, he generates no anger. The hermit has a loving-kindness feeling towards his tormentors. Until his last breath, the hermit does not hate the King. According to the modern psychology it was an unusual human response.

The modern Western society was influenced by the non-violence movement by led Mahathma Gandhi and the Civil Right movement launched by Martin Luthr King Jr. But the emotional reaction of the Kshanthivadi Hermit remains an extraordinary human reaction. Perhaps such emotional reactions could have explained by Victor Frankl who practically showed that under the extreme physical and psychological pain man can preserve his spiritual freedom of independence of mind.

Furthermore Maha Kapi Jātakaya , Chulla Suthasoma Jātakaya narrate different kinds of Personality Disorders.

Psychopathic Personality

Strickland and colleagues (2013) highlight that Despite its importance historically and contemporarily, psychopathy is not recognized in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV-TR) and its closest counterpart, antisocial personality disorder, includes strong representation of behavioral deviance symptoms but weak representation of affective-interpersonal features considered central to psychopathy.

By definition, psychopaths are callous, selfish, manipulative, irresponsible, impulsive, sexually promiscuous and generally antisocial (Hart & Hare, 1997). Viding, McCrory and Seara-Cardoso (2014) point out that Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by lack of empathy and guilt, shallow affect, manipulation of other people and severe, premeditated and violent antisocial behavior.

The Jātaka Story book widely narrates a number of individuals with Psychopathic Personality. In Chulla Suthasoma Jātakaya the cannibal King shows clear psycho-behavioral traits of a psychopath. Furthermore in the Sachhang Kira Jātakaya the Prince Dushta-Kaumara (Evil Prince) would qualify psychopathic personality traits. These individuals show lack of emotions, callousness, unreliability and superficiality in significant levels.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The term ‘narcissism’ originated from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses  (Book III) in the first century story of Narcissus and Echo, and much later evolved into a  highly specialized psychoanalytic term (Konrath , ‎2007). Narcissism was first introduced into psychological literature in 1898, when Havelock Ellis used the term Narcissuslike to refer to “a tendency for the sexual emotions to be lost and almost entirely absorbed in self admiration” (Ellis, 1898; Raskin & Terry, 1988).

For Freud narcissism was a soothing of the self as a sexual object. According to his essay On Narcissism (1914) Freud wrote that narcissism is a normal maturational phase of healthy development in all children. He further stated that narcissism is complement to the egoism of the instinct for self-preservation. However he assumed that in healthy development an individual move away from primary narcissism and invests his / her libidinal energy into another person rather than themselves.

As Freud believed narcissist is someone who was primarily focused on self-preservation, who was independent, not easily intimidated, aggressive, extraverted, high in activity, and unable to love or commit in relationships. (Konrath , ‎2007). According to the Italian Psychoanalyst, Sergio Benvenuto Freud’s first use of the word ‘narcissism ‘in 1910 and Freud wrote: “[Homosexuals] identify themselves with a woman and take themselves as their sexual object …..they proceed from a narcissistic basis and look for a young man who resembles themselves and whom they may love as their mother loved them.

The individual diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder presents with grandiosity, extreme self-involvement, and lack of interest in and empathy for others (McNeal, 2003).

According to the DSM description Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder. An individual with NPD has a grandiose sense of self-importance. He / she is  preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love and believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people and  requires excessive admiration. He / she lacks empathy and interpersonally exploitative.

Russ and colleagues (2008) are of the view that narcissistic personality disorder is one of the least studied personality disorders.  In addition Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Also Narcissism is a more complex construct than portrayed by DSM-IV criteria (Russ et al., 2008).

According to Golomb (1992) Pathological narcissism occurs in a spectrum of severity and NPD is considered to result from a person’s belief that they are flawed in a way that makes them fundamentally unacceptable to others. Both clinical and social-personality conceptualizations of narcissism include an aspect of self-esteem maintenance or self-enhancement and the effects of narcissism are most substantial in relation to interpersonal functioning (Miller et al., 2010).

The Jātaka story book illustrates Narcissistic tendencies of two monks who have grandiose sense of self-importance and require excessive admiration. They also have a very strong sense of entitlement and repeatedly show arrogant and haughty behaviors.

Psychotic Disorders

Psychosis is a condition characterized by loss of contact with reality and may involve severe disturbances in perception, cognition, behavior, and feeling. Positive symptoms of psychosis include delusions, hallucinations and/or thought disorder (MHECCU). The term psychotic has historically received a number of different definitions, none of which has achieved universal acceptance.

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychotic disorder characterized by disturbed behavior, thinking, emotions, and perceptions. To the best of present knowledge schizophrenia is a disorder with variable phenotypic expression and poorly understood, complex etiology, involving a major genetic contribution, as well as environmental factors interacting with the genetic susceptibility (Jablensky, 2010).

The term ‘schizophrenia’ was coined in 1910 by the Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler, and is derived from the Greek words ‘schizo’ (split) and ‘phren’ (mind). The disease concept of schizophrenia is of a relatively recent origin, as compared with disorders such as melancholia, mania, or generic insanity,” all known since antiquity (Jablensky, 2010). Schizophrenia is a classic psychiatric diagnosis. The defining features have remained unchanged for more than 100 years (Heckers, 2011).

The Jātaka Stores describe several individuals with a variety of psychotic manifestations. The Labha- Garu Jatahakya is one of the examples that describe a person with insane behavior. For insanity the Jathaka storyteller uses the term Umathu” Umathu illustrates abnormal behavior, divergence from reality, erroneous thinking and decision making. The Jātaka Stores illustrate confirmatory examples of psychotic behavior.

According to the historical records the King Buddhadasa (398 AD) of ancient Sri Lanka successfully treated an insane man who insulted him publicly. As the ancient texts describe this individual showed grandiose ideas, verbal aggression and socially inappropriate behavior with marked arrogance. This story further elucidate that instead of punishing the individual the King approached him humanly. He used empathy, talk therapy and positive reinforcements to treat this individual.

The “Daha Ata Sanniya” is an ancient healing dance ritual held to exorcise 18 types of diseases from the human body. The Exorcists wear masks depicting the demons thought to be responsible for a person’s ailments (Bailey & de Silva, 2006). There are several dances depicting mental illnesses. For non spirit related insanity such as psychotic conditions the ancient healers used Abutha Sanniya and for spirit related insanity (in Possession states) used Butha Sanniya. In temporary insanity (in Acute Transient Psychotic Disorders) Pissu Sanniya was used. For sleep disorders Naga Sanniya was recommended.

Depressive Disorder

Depression is a mood disorder associated with specific symptoms such as depressed mood, decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day , significant weight change, change in sleep, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness and thoughts of death or suicide. According to Assaka Jātakaya a King goes in to depression after his Queen’s death. The Jātaka Storyteller vividly describes the King’s depressive reaction that is equivalent to the DSM description.

Pathological Grief

Grief is an intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one (especially by death) something that causes great unhappiness and it has multi-faceted responses. Grief is an overwhelming emotion. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Sometimes grief reactions are prolonged and the affected person is unable to come to terms with the loss. Pathological grief deserves a place in the diagnostic nomenclature (Horowitz 1993).

The Sujatha Jātaka story explains a pathological grief reaction experienced by a person following the death of his father. His emotional pain does not heal with time and lasted for a long period. Most of the day his mind was preoccupied with the memories of the lost father and used to cry for him. He was emotionally overwhelmed. The sufferer’s pathological grief reaction was healed by using an existential mode of intervention by his young son. The young son gives his father the insight and hence reducing his prolonged grief reaction.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a new disorder for DSM-5 that is uncommon and frequently co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders (Copeland et al., 2014). DMDD is a newcomer to psychiatric nosology, addresses the need for improved classification and treatment of children exhibiting chronic nonepisodic irritability and severe temper outbursts (Roy, Lopes & Klein, 2014). The children with DMDD show severe recurrent temper outbursts manifested verbally and behaviorally that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation or provocation. The temper outbursts are inconsistent with developmental level.

The Virochana Jātakaya of the Jātaka storybook gives details of a Prince who had positive features of DMDD. The Prince has aggressive impulsive behavior, temper tantrums, temper outbursts, property destruction, rule violation etc. The King sends the young Prince to a hermit who has knowledge and wisdom. The hermit uses a form of behavior modification therapy to treat the child. The hermit gives an insight to the child by using a Kohomba plant (Azadirachta indica) which bears leaves with a bitter taste. The hermit says that the children with aggressive behavior often harms others are like these leaves and no one likes them. The child gains insight and refrains from aggressive behavior.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

 The term intermittent explosive disorder” did not appear in DSM until publication of the third edition in 1980 (Coccaro, 2012). According to McElroy (1999) Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is a behavioral disorder characterized by explosive outbursts of anger, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand (i.e., impulsive screaming triggered by relatively inconsequential events). Impulsive aggression is unpremeditated, and is defined by a disproportionate reaction to any provocation, real or perceived. Some individuals have reported affective changes prior to an outburst (e.g., tension, mood changes, energy changes, etc.) Intermittent Explosive Disorder is a relatively common disorder of impulsive aggression that typically emerges by adulthood (Fanning et al., 2014).

Intermittent Explosive Disorder falls in the category of Impulse-Control Disorders. The condition is characterized by failure to resist aggressive impulses, resulting in serious assaults or property destruction.

Recent studies have shown IED to be a common and under-diagnosed disorder existing in over 6% of the population (Coccaro,Posternak, & Zimmerman, 2005; Kessler et al., 2006;McCloskeyet al., 2008 ). IED is associated with a high degree of social impairment (Blankenship, 2008).

Coccaro (2012) indicates that human aggression constitutes a multidetermined act that results in physical or verbal injury to self, others, or objects. It appears in several forms and may be defensive, premeditated (e.g., predatory), or impulsive (nonpremeditated) in nature.

The Chethiya Daddara Jātakaya reveals a monk with an Intermittent Explosive Disorder and this monk is easily provoked and goes into violent impulsive tantrums. He is abusing other monks verbally and physically. His destructive anger causes huge problems to the fellow monks. Later this monk was healed by the Buddha.

Developmental Disorders

The developmental disorders are a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. The Ummaga Jātakaya narrates of a Count named Gorimannda who suffers from a Developmental Disorder. According to the description the Count Gorimannda has mental retardation, lack of social or emotional reciprocity, poor motor coordination, Sialorrhea (drooling or excessive salivation) and abnormal speech.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is clinically defined by abnormalities in reciprocal social and communicative behaviors and an inflexible adherence to routinised patterns of thought and behavior. Laboratory studies repeatedly demonstrate that autistic individuals experience difficulties in recognizing and understanding the emotional expressions of others and naturalistic observations show that they use such expressions infrequently and inappropriately to regulate social exchanges (Gaigg, 2012).

The Jātaka story book discloses extraordinary narrative of a Prince who displays Autism related symptoms to deceive the King and the Royal healers. The little Prince Themiya becomes disgusted with the way his father rules the country tormenting the subjects. He does not want to be a part of the kingdom. Therefore the little Prince Themiya exhibits autistic behavior pattern disregarding his surroundings. He intends to run away from the kingdom. The King makes numerous efforts to heal the prince. But his condition remains the same. Eventually the King orders to kill the Prince who has no value to the kingdom. When the executioner takes the Prince to the forest to kill him, unexpectedly the Prince talks to the executioner. The Prince states that it was an act and he needed to escape from the palace. The executioner releases the Prince and he goes to Himalayan forest and becomes a hermit.

Also in Padangali Jātakaya the Prince Padanjali shows a number of Autistic traits with poor social skills, difficulty understanding linguistic terms, and lack of sensitivity to outer environment.

Conduct Disorder

Children with conduct disorder repeatedly violate the personal or property rights of others and age-appropriate social standards and rules. Associated features of conduct disorder include an inability to appreciate the importance of others’ welfare and little guilt or remorse about harming others. Children with Conduct Disorder often view the world as a hostile and threatening place and they have difficulty maintaining friendships. They often have low self-esteem and low frustration tolerance. Peers and family members become negative and irritated with their misbehaviour, which leads to a vicious cycle.

Thila Mutti Jātakaya of the Jātaka storybook gives details of a Prince who had positive features of Conduct Disorder. He violates social rules and shows temper outbursts and aggressive behavior.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by an abnormal reactivity to real or imagined separation from attachment figures that significantly interferes with daily activities and developmental tasks. To meet DSM-IV-R diagnostic criteria, the anxiety must be beyond what is expected for the child’s developmental level, last longer than four weeks, begin before age 18 and cause significant distress or impairment (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The fear of separation is associated with leaving the safety of parents and home may escalate into tantrums or panic attacks and cause significant interference with academic, social, or emotional development (Hanna, 2006).

Mahajana Jātaka story describes separation anxiety in a child following Paternal Derivation.   According to the Mahajana Jātaka story the child demonstrate numerous behavioural problems. Finally his mother makes arrangements to meet the child with his father and hence the anxiety comes to an end.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is considered as a body-image disorder. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a distressing or impairing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance, has been described for more than a century and increasingly studied over the past several decades (Phillips, 2010). In DSM-IV, BDD is classified as a separate disorder in the somatoform section (APA). Individuals with BDD have intense preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance and if a slight physical anomaly is present, the person’s concern is markedly excessive. This preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.  BDD is associated with substantial impairment in psychosocial functioning and markedly poor quality of life (Bjornsson, 2010).

In Kusa Jātakaya the King Kusa is overly anxious about the size of his nose.  His preoccupation with his facial image causes him immense distress and impairment in social functioning as a king and a husband.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled.

The Jathka storyteller elegantly portrays the clinical picture of a monk (in Dummbala Katta Jathakaya) who had fear feelings, flashbacks, hyperaousal, avoidance and startling reactions. The monk who was described in this Jātaka story   fits in to the DSM criteria of PTSD.

The said monk had fear feelings, being panicked for a slightest sound (the ancient text describes that the monk was terrified even hearing a sound such as a drop of a leaf from a tree – which is modern day viewed as hyper-arousal) , fearing the places where he received terrible experiences and reluctant to visit them (avoidance)  , troubled by the fearful mental images  (flashbacks?)  , morbid fear, unable to meditate (lack of concentration), sweating and heart pounding (activation of the sympathetic nervous system), lack of happiness (depressive feelings), mental worry etc.  The clinical picture, which is given in the Maranabheruka  Jātaka much similar to the present day DSM description of PTSD. The word Maranabheruka roughly translates into English as fear of death (Jayatunge , 2014).

Sleep Terror Disorder

According to the DSM IV -TR Sleep Terror Disorder ( pavor nocturnus ) is characterized as having recurrent episodes of abrupt awakening from sleep, usually occurring during the first third of the major sleep episode and beginning with a panicky scream , intense fear and signs of autonomic arousal, relative unresponsiveness to efforts of others to comfort the person during the episode ,  no detailed dream is recalled and there is amnesia for the episode and  the episodes cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The DSM highlights that the disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition. Maha Supina Jātakaya gives an unambiguous case study of Sleep terror disorder.

Pain Disorder

Pain disorder is chronic pain experienced by a patient in one or more areas. Often the pain does not subside for medications and it has a psychological origin. According to the Ummaga Jatakaya the Count Sirriwaddana is suffering from a headache for over seven years. This pain was headed by infant Mahosadha Pandit with a piece of sandalwood.

Alcohol Abuse and Dependence

According to the  DSM-IV-TR Alcohol Abuse  and Dependence are describe as  maladaptive pattern of drinking, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.  DSM–5 integrates the two DSM–IV disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, into a single disorder called alcohol use disorder (AUD) with mild, moderate, and severe sub-classifications.

Surapana Jātakaya and Bddraghataka Jātakaya point out health and behaviour related problems associated with alcoholism. According these Jātaka stories the persons who abuses alcohol loses their rational judgment.

Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder has been revealed in the Darmadavaja Jātaka story. According to the story a King with alcohol induced psychosis kills his infant son and forces the Royal Chef to cook the dead infant’s meat. This horrendous narrative is dramatically presented by the Jātaka storyteller.

Alcohol-related psychosis is a secondary psychosis that manifests as prominent hallucinations and delusions occurring in a variety of alcohol-related conditions. For patients with alcohol use disorder, previously known as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, psychosis can occur during phases of acute intoxication or withdrawal, with or without delirium tremens (Medspace)

As described by Perälä and colleagues (2010) Alcohol-Induced Psychotic Disorder is a severe mental disorder with poor outcome.  Also they specify that psychotic symptoms can occur in several clinical conditions related to alcohol such as intoxication, withdrawal, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder and delirium. The association between alcohol and homicide is well documented and according to a study done by Razvodovsky (2008) showed that homicide and alcohol are closely connected in the prevailing culture with its intoxication-oriented drinking pattern.

Pathologic Gambling

According to the American Psychiatric Association Pathological gambling (PG) is classified in the DSM-IV as a disorder of impulse control with the essential feature being recurrent and maladaptive gambling behaviour. The individual has a preoccupation with gambling, needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired level of excitement, repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling, feels restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling, uses gambling as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood, has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of gambling etc.

In his paper Dostoyevski and Parricide”, Freud (1928) suggests that pathological gambling is a form of addiction related to the Oedipus complex. The individual gambles as a substitute for masturbation. Also gambling constitutes a way of punishment that secondarily becomes a pleasurable activity. Thus, Freud suggests masochistic component to pathological gambling (Moreyra et al., 2000).

The Jātaka storyteller narrates of a pathological gambler named Thundila in the Thakari Jātaka story. The behavioral features of the gambler Thundila is very much similar to the behavioral symptomatology that has been described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Dissociative Trance Disorders (Possession Disorder)

Although dissociative trance disorders, especially possession disorder, are probably more common than is usually though, precise clinical data are lacking (Ferracuti  , Sacco &  Lazzari, 1996). According to Ross (2011) Dissociative trance disorder, which includes possession experiences, was introduced as a provisional diagnosis requiring further study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Consideration is now being given to including possession experiences within dissociative identity disorder (DID) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).

Spirit possession is a common, worldwide phenomenon with dissociative features and studies in Europe and the United States have revealed associations among psychoform and somatoform dissociation and (reported) potential traumatic events (van Duijl et al., 2010)

Dissociative trance disorder, which includes possession experiences, was introduced as a provisional diagnosis requiring further study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) and  consideration is now being given to including possession experiences within dissociative identity disorder (DID) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -5th ed (Ross, 2011).

Aspects of possession are reviewed in historical, cultural and clinical contexts (Prins, 1992). Possession disorder is basically an illness of attribution that has intrinsic meaning to the individuals suffering from it. Illnesses of attribution are defined not so much by their signs and symptoms as by their presumed etiologic mechanisms (Gaw et al., 1998). Ferracuti, Sacco and Lazzari (1996) state that although dissociative trance disorders, especially possession disorder, are probably more common than is usually though, precise clinical data are lacking.

Pathological Possession Trance (PPT) was formerly known as dissociative trance disorder in the DSM psychiatric manual, and became included within the dissociative identity disorder criteria in the DSM-5. The experience of being “possessed” by another entity, such as a person, god, demon, animal, or inanimate object, holds different meanings in different cultures. Yet the phenomenon of possession states has been reported worldwide (Gaw et al., 1998).

Spirit possession little attention from mental health care systems, possibly due to the cultural complexity of defining pathological trance syndromes and its diagnosis and treatment (Cardeña et al. 2008; Castillo 1992, 1998; Marjolein van Duijl, 2010).

Distinction between normal dissociative trance and possession states, for example, as part of cultural or religious rituals, and pathological trance and possession states bringing distress and impairment in functioning has been an important debate preceding inclusion of experimental criteria for possessive trance disorder and dissociative trance disorder (DTD) in the DSM-IV (Marjolein van Duijl, 2010).

The Pandit Kavinda (in the Ummaga Jātakaya storyline) seems to be suffering from Dissociative Trance Disorder- Possession state. As the Pandit describes it is a transient monthly occurrence on full moon days. When he is under the trance he loses control of his body as well as the control over his consciousness.  His behavior changes rapidly.  There is a change in tone of voice and he barks like a dog. He loses the awareness of surrounding and there is a loss of personal identity. The Pandit Kavinda believes that he is under a possession by a demon.

The Death Instinct

In 1920 Sigmund Freud wrote (in Beyond the Pleasure Principle) opposition between the ego or death instincts and the sexual or life instincts. He used the term death drive (Thanatos”).According to Freudian notion the death drive is the drive towards death, self-destruction and the return to the inorganic: “the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state. Freud’s final view was that aggression has its roots in the death-instinct (De Silva, 1992).

The Jātaka story book reveals death instincts and death drive of a number of individuals. In addition the story of the Bikku  Godhika gives a complex picture of suicidal ideation , death and liberating himself. This story does not glorify suicide or present suicide as a way of liberation.

The Bikku  Godhika made laborious efforts to attain Nirvana by doing various mediations during his life time. All of his attempts were failed and he could not attain any super-conscious state.  Finally with hopelessness he cuts his throat using a razor blade. A few moments before his death he concentrates on his painful impulses and practices Vedananupassana Meditation. (Contemplation on Feelings). According to the Buddhist scripts Bikku  Godhika was able to attain Nirvana a few seconds before his death.

Carr and Lapp (2005) highlight Marcuse’s version of Freudian death instinct.

According to Marcuse (1955) The death instinct operates under the Nirvana principle; it tends toward that state of ‘constant gratification’ where no tension is felt — a state without want … If the instinct’s basic objective is not the termination of life but of pain — the absence of tension — then paradoxically, in terms of instinct, the conflict between life and death is more reduced, the  closer life approximates the state of gratification. Pleasure principle and Nirvana principle then converge. At the same time, Eros, freed from surplus repression would be strengthened, and the strengthened Eros would, as it were, absorb the objective of the death instinct. The instinctual value of death would have changed; if the instincts pursued and attained their fulfillment in a non-repressive order, the regressive compulsion would lose much of its biological rationale. As suffering and want recede, the Nirvana principle may become reconciled with the reality principle. The unconscious attraction that draws the instincts back to an earlier state” would be effectively counteracted by the desirability of the attained state of life. The conservative nature” of the instincts would come to rest in a fulfilled present. Death would cease to be an instinctual goal.

The Concept of Death described by the Jathaka Storyteller

Death is a universal phenomenon. Sujatha Jātaka story discusses the meaning of death in existential point of view. Death is the irredeemable loss of consciousness. The existential level is organized around life on earth itself and social, cultural and spiritual ramifications of it, that is, the “human condition”. People’s existential issues are related to their mortality and impermanence, their experience of freedom of choice their sense of worthiness, and their sense of separation/connection with others. Work at this level is to loosen the rigidity of the self image, to expand the relationship to the sacred, and to integrate one’s relationship with death.

Savage Part of the Human Psyche

Freud described that savage part of the human psyche.

In 1929 Sigmund Freud wrote . . . men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him…… (Civilization and Its Discontents)

Similarly, in the Jātaka stories the dark side of the human mind is revealed. In Suthasoma Jathaka Porisada, the cannibal shows series of psychopathic personality traits. People fear him and avoid him. Porisada is violent and shows no compassion. He derives satisfaction torturing and cannibalizing human beings. He disregards moral beliefs. According to the story the villain Porisada was reformed by the Bodhisatta. (A Bodhisatta is a person who is devoted to Enlightenment)


The act of killing one’s father (patricide) has been described in the Jātaka storybook. The Sankichha Jātakaya is based on patricide.

Early explanations for parricide were predominantly psychodynamic interpretations. These theories included suggestions that the murderous impulse to kill a parent might have oedipal origins, as a defense against hostility or incestuous desires (Bourget et al., 2007). Silva and colleagues (1989) hypothesized that an unresolved incestuous conflict or a parent‐victim who mistreats the child excessively may push the child to the point of explosive violence.

In Sankichha Jātakaya the son who committed patricide shows fear, extreme guilt and remorse.


 The word cannibal is said to be a legacy of Columbus’ second voyage to the Caribbean in 1493. Referring originally to the Caribs in the Antilles who were identified as eaters of human flesh, the term was subsequently extended as a descriptive term for flesh eaters in other populations (Hulme, 1992; Lindenbaum, 2004).

Eating members of one’s own species is one of the few remaining taboos in modern human societies (Kontis et al., 2007). In ancient times, cannibalism was deemed acceptable for reasons of survival when faced with extreme need or for religious or magic reasons. In today’s society, these cases are extremely rare and are generally associated with severe mental illness (Medina Ortiz et al., 2006).

The Jātaka storybook indicate a few individuals ( eg: Maha Suthasoma Jātakaya) who were fond of eating the flesh and internal organs of other human beings. These individuals were later reformed by the Bodhisatta.

The Esteem Part of the Human Psyche

 The Jātaka stories contain a profound philosophical component. This philosophy helps to eliminate suffering to find a cure for the pain of human existence. The Jātaka storyteller vividly describes the esteem part of the human psyche that is capable of treating other human beings with respect, empathy and love. These stories narrate moral behavior and spirituality of the virtuous people. It is a guide to personal development.


Although the Western scholars like Anatole France, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Professor Roderick Ninian Smart etc had profoundly written about the Buddhist philosophy ironically no one had revealed the Western world about the psychological significance of the Buddhist Jātaka stories. The Jātaka stories analyze the human mind revealing its noble and ignoble parts and how the mind works in different circumstances. The Jātaka story teller knew the complexity of the human mind. He described the human behavior in vivid situations. The Jātaka stories represent a broad structure of mental phenomena. The Jātaka stories describe most of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) based mental ailments and its spiritual healing.   Therefore the Western world should carefully study this priceless piece of work.

One Response to “The Buddhist Jātaka Stories and the DSM based Mental Disorders”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Even Western University professors who don’t know anything about buddhism, study many things and give new names.

    For example, google and see Lucifer Effect by Prof. Philip Zimbardo. It talks about how good people turns into evil.

    In buddhist literature, it is the typical Angulimala story.

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