Friday, May 18, 2007

Rethinking Intervention

How did Odysseus save his crew from the intoxicating effects of the lotus fruit? What were his options? Did he try to reason with them? Maybe if he had tried to discuss their perilous situation, they would have listened to reason and returned to their ships on their own. What if he attempted to console them? Possibly if he had had pity on his crew and empathized with their situation, they would have been overcome by his understanding and compassion and given up the addictive high of the lotus. Perhaps he might have chosen to feel sorry for them and for the pain that they had endured from their years of battle at Troy and their hazardous journey at sea. The fog of Morpheus could be viewed as merciful, numbing painful memories of the past. If Odysseus had decided to travel any of these roads, he would have ended up enabling the sailors in their own act of self-destruction and ruining any hope he had of ever seeing Ithaca again.

The heroic Odysseus chose a much more intimidating path, a way that would place him in a position of appearing to be the very evil from which he was trying to rescue his men. One by one, the good king dragged his sailors back to the ship against their will. The ship represents a way to freedom, the very thing for which the men were longing. The crew, dizzy from the effects of the lotus, spat and fought against the very person that was carrying them to freedom.

When someone is using a crutch—whether video games, busyness, the Internet, television, chemicals, or anything else—to anesthetize the wounds of their heart, they will resist (sometimes violently) any attempts at distancing them from their particular lotus fruit. Once the lotus fruit is removed, they will find the particular pain they were anesthetizing will usually rise to the surface. But this allows both adult and adolescent to better comprehend the source of the wound and to explore the possibility of healing. If you are a teacher, counselor, or youth worker, you should attempt to work hand in hand with the parents of the adolescent who is self-medicating, whether literally or figuratively. If you are a parent, you will need the support of other adults in your child’s life.

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