Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Art of Intervention

"Let me talk to you for a minute...."

We all know the feeling, speaker or spoken to, the rise in the anxiety level, the catch in the voice. We know what we want to say, we know what we don't want to hear.

Why is it so difficult? I mean, we're adults. We should be able to talk about anything. (Unless we are adolescents, in which case we can't talk about a lot of things, but we sure can text, message, facebook and twitter about them!)

It's anxiety-producing to venture into any area that is emotionally unpredictable. The old fears about abandonment come to the surface itching poison ivy. What if he can't handle it? What if he kills himself? What if it just makes her drink more? What if I'm wrong?

And on the receiving end: oh, man, this is it. I'm getting thrown out! They're putting me away. I'm done for!

We take care of each other out of love and become co-dependent out of fear. The fear spurs resentment, then guilt, then more fear. Stephen Karpman postulated years ago that each of us us capable of only one of three existential roles when dealing with an addict.

Rescuer, Persecutor or Victim.

The Rescuer feels bad because of the physically or emotionally impoverishment of the addict and tries to help, maybe with a loan. Sure, people have warned him not to give money to an alcoholic or addict, but he seems like such a good guy and only needs something to help him get back on his feet. A Rescuer is born.

What?? Oh no, he couldn't have done this to me! He used the money for drugs? How could that be? What have I ever done to him to deserve this? Victim.

That lousy rat....just wait, I'll show him, trying to put one over on me! I'll just wait until I get a good chance to take a shot at him and..... Persecutor.

Rescuer, Victim, Persecutor.

More to follow

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