Friday, February 14, 2014

The mother of interventions

Imagine how strange it feels to sit with an older teenager, and realize and discuss how the most important things may never get said between parent and child.  Everything that was supposed to happen to make him feel connected.  The nature of this hollow feeling, the real nature of love.  The child they never saw, how alone he felt, how invisible he was.  It is a very strange conversation, like an epitaph spoken even before living really begins.  And it would be terrible to have it, were I not about to bring the parents in and make them, so to speak, the wrench thrown in the works, to stop an inexorable passing.

In psychiatrist Peter Breggin’s book, Toxic Psychiatry, the author as therapist talks to the parents of Andy, a child labeled ADD.

“Right now, your son isn’t feeling loved by his dad, and he’s not feeling disciplined by his mom, and he’s getting very mixed messages about how to behave.  The one message he is getting is that his dad doesn’t love him and that he’s a problem for everyone.”  (p. 276)
By this powerful lecture, the family begins to change, becomes mutually respectful, ends fear, and it’s implied that the boy’s so-called ADD diminishes, maybe to the vanishing point.  Such a result would be harmonious with Janov’s statement that ‘Nothing calms a child more than being loved.’  But Andy is ten years old – a very good time to intervene and remove the blinders from parents’ eyes.  Can this be done after he has passed seventeen, may dread even recapping his past to these parents, touching the sea beneath him and disturbing everything within it?

What will happen is that one parent will attend solo.  The other who lives apart, the young man feels he is too delicate and inaccessible.

It could go like this:

“Your son is missing a relationship with his parents that would have made him feel positive and strong.  A long time ago, he tried to make the family happy, but it didn’t work, and he was left in a grief and loss state.  He is stuck in the past, and he knows it.  When you are stuck in the past, but have to move on, only part of you moves on, and that is depression.  His pleasant personality – you are seeing the cover of a person.  He knows it is his cover.  The smile is mostly unreal, though that may be hard for you to believe.  The big problem now is that most of his energy remains waiting in his childhood, so there is little to drive him over the barrier into adulthood.  Motivation must come from feeling, and his is still mourning.”

I know this mother is very businesslike, and it will take purposive drama to create and maintain an atmosphere that her business will not be comfortable in.  Under pressure, she will have to go deeper in herself.  What will be the goal?  To see her son drastically, to give him some essential nourishment he’s never had.  But mostly, no one can know what she might say or do that will help him find a center in himself.  No one knows what can be inspiration or redemption.  I just hope very much that it happens.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.