Primitive mammalian brain


To maintain motivation during the UPSC preparation journey is what makes it such a tough exam to crack.  The UPSC exam is a unique challenge of mental strength.

My optional subject was Psychology and I developed a keen interest in issues of mental health. It struck me that the mental health of most UPSC aspirants was in bad shape. Including mine.

Now in my final year of Masters in Clinical Psychology, I have had the opportunity to look closely at psychiatric patients in a hospital setting and the way motivation works. And when it doesn’t.

If there is one thing, I have learned, it is that the human mind is fragile. The brain is just an organ like the heart. It is far from perfect.

If it malfunctions, it can wreak havoc in people’s lives. When this happens, it is mostly out of the control of the afflicted.


But out of the things which people can subject themselves to VOLUNTARILY, in INDIA at least, the preparation for the UPSC exam stands out as king.

It’s like the Olympics for mental suffering.

Lakhs of people do this to themselves EVERY year, Year after Year!

And they have virtually NO help or recognition for this.

This article looks at the reasons behind this effect.

And in writing this, I hope that it brings some peace and motivation to the many young people who undertake this journey.


It takes more than an year to get to know the final results of your preparation in the UPSC examination. This is a very long period of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is painful and stressful.

The most satisfying explanation I have come across, comes from Evolutionary Psychology which suggests that our behaviour is the way it is because it helped our ancestors survive in the wild as hunter-gatherers.

Homo sapiens, like any other species are designed by evolution to survive, above all else.

Evolution experiments with different survival machines.

Sometimes, it produces machines with large teeth and ferocious strength. Sometimes, with bright colors to attract prey. Sometimes with perfect camouflage. Sometimes with a venomous bite.

And other times, with huge brains, like the one’s humans possess.

upsc preparation, upsc motivation
Motivation drops during UPSC preparation. Dont be surprised. Be prepared. It happens to everyone.

In the case of homo sapiens, the experiment has been wildly (pun intended) successful. [1]

  • [1]So much so, that the upright ape is all set to decimate mother nature herself.Humans have dominated all other species so completely that the Earth has entered in to a period of MASS EXTINCTION due to human activity, called the Anthropocene.
  • Studies suggest that as much as 50% of animal individuals that once lived on Earth are already extinct. No wonder, Experts literally use the word ‘SUPER-PREDATOR’ for our species!

But the problem is that evolution does not care about the happiness of the survival machines which it produces.

It has a long-term perspective, so to speak. (4.5 billion years and counting)

Of course, it follows that the brain that evolution has produced is also not geared to produce happiness.

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  1. I can’t thank you enough for this post.
    We, aspirants, face this issue every now and then.
    It gives a reality check and provides some real-life tools to ensure our fitness in this arena of the mental gymnasium.

    Thank you for addressing this issue, sir!

  2. I can’t thank you enough for this post.
    We, aspirants, face this issue every now and then.
    It gives a reality check and provides some real-life tools to navigate through this arena of the mental gymnasium.

    Thank you for addressing this issue, sir!

  3. A Big Thank you for sharing this sir. I am 28y/o, a Gym Trainer from past 9 years and from past 5 years I have dreamt this Big Dream which I know I can achieve with sheer hardwork n determination the only thing which I have is Discipline right now hope that counts. but situations n society n people around always demoralize, I am on the Edge Just Hanging in there with all I can not to give up coz I know I only have this 1 life,will definitely do this what you have adviced above. Take care God bless Have an amazingly wonderful life ahead.

    • Bravo for being honest about it!
      I dont know why mental suffering is treated differently from physical suffering.
      Everyone suffers mentally.
      Depression is as much as property of the brain as diabetes is of the pancreas.
      Im glad the article helped!
      you may want to check out some of the work by Andrew Solomon on Youtube

      Tc 🙂

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