Are you planning an intervention for a family member?
An intervention is a family meeting of sorts where family members get together to confront another member who is seriously off the rails in their life.
The idea is to wake the person up.
Back in the day, we just called it a family meeting.
Today it’s called an intervention.
So are you planning one?
Don’t do it.
While it seems like a good idea, I think it’s a terrible idea.
I understand your good intentions. I really do.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
What you will achieve is a beating up on a person who doesn’t need any more beating up in life.
Back in the day, our new combined family consisting of my sisters, my mom, my step-dad and my step-brother thought it would be a good idea to have a family meeting, an intervention, for my other step-brother, Stevie.
At the time, I was in adolescence and didn’t know what the hell was going on.
I was simply told that we were going to have a family meeting, which we did.
I vaguely recall the meeting. I don’t think Stevie was aware what we were doing until the meeting began.
I’m not sure I did either.
I knew Stevie was doing drugs, so it makes sense to me now that his drug use was probably why we were having the meeting.
As I look back now on Stevie’s life I can see that the meeting was a mistake.
Stevie was suffering for sure.
His parents had gotten a divorce, and it had affected him severely.
It didn’t help matters that his father married my mom a few years later.
What seems like a good move for the parents – remarriage and stability in the parents lives – can often bring more turmoil to the children.
Stevie was a smart boy. He had a lot of intelligence. He was also a good person at heart according to my mom.
But those skills aren’t often enough when you’re going through psychological turmoil.
Ultimately, Steve became unable to cope in life. He became functionally disabled and had to live in halfway houses, that could provide structured living, until he died just a few years ago. He was a few years older than I was.
As I look back on his life, I can see now that the family meeting that we had for him was a huge mistake.
Instead of helping him at that meeting, what we were doing was ganging up on him.
He was in a weakened state psychologically, and what he needed was someone to lift him up, not burden him down.
I’ve often thought about him and why he was unable to function in a world in which the rest of us are so easily able to function.
He had lost his confidence in life.
His problem-solving skills were shot.
The divorce of his parents had devastated him.
It had shattered his ability to cope. He would become frustrated at the tiny obstacles in life.
His dad’s remarriage to my mother only created more turmoil in a life that needed stability.
I can sense this because I suffered the same feelings in my life. While Stevie was undergoing the trauma of divorce in his family, I was undergoing the trauma of death (my father) in my family.
Our parent’s remarriage amplified that trauma and disruption.
I walked around in a daze during my high school years.
I’m sure Stevie was feeling the same.
He needed psychological help, as did I, in an age that didn’t commonly recognize or embrace the need for such services.
In those days, psychologists and psychiatrists were for the wealthy, or neurotic people like one of Woody Allen’s characters.
In many respects, the 1960s was truly an age of ignorance.
It was an era in which crackpot ideas like family meetings were considered a good idea.
The reason they aren’t a good idea is because the person who you are intending to fix is in a weakened state and is unable to shoulder what they will perceive to be the pain you are inflicting upon them.
You won’t make them better with the intervention, you will make them worse.
Stevie must’ve been crushed by that meeting that we had for him.
I know I would’ve been.
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