Let’s start by saying that I’m no subject matter expert when the topic comes to “interventions”. I’ve never been the subject of one (although at certain in my times in my life I wonder if I should have been) nor have I ever been invited to attend one on somebody else’s behalf. I’m not a big fan of people getting together in groups to discuss their problems and air their grievances. It smacks of too much psychobabble. I guess I was taught early on that when the worm starts to turn in your life and it starts to go in the crapper, you’re better pulling yourselves up by your own bootstraps and tend to the matter at hand. I think there’s a certain self reward when it comes to that but like I stated earlier, I’m no expert. What works for one individual certainly can’t be applied to others. I guess it comes down to the old saying “Whatever floats your boat”.
What do you say we dismiss my own take on the matter and get right down to the nuts and bolts of what constitutes an intervention?
What is an intervention anyway?
Well, from what little I’ve read and heard, an intervention is a well thought out process designed to make a change in somebody else’s life. Usually the person being intervened on is involved of some kind of self destructive behavior such as gambling, drug addiction, alcoholism or what have you. Of course, there could be other reasons but I think those three are the heavy hitters.
Usually, the subject of the intervention isn’t even aware of the problems and pain that they’re causing to themselves, their family or their friends and most likely in some kind of state of denial. Hence the need for a what used to be called back in my day, a heart to heart conversation.
Back in Borgo’s Day
Best Friend: “Dude, your life is all fucked up. Your wife’s gonna leave you, your kids are starting to hate you and you’re gonna get fired if you miss another day of work.”
Borgo: “Yeah, I know, lets go grab a beer and forget about it”
Best Friend: “Dude, I’m just sayin’. Don’t’ say I didn’t warn you when you’re out on your ass sleeping in the streets and begging for spare change. You buyin?”
Borgo: "Fuck you, I bought last time."
And then I'd go home and think about what he said in private.
From what I’ve heard the ensemble that confronts the one being intervened on varies depending on the level of intervention. On one hand, it might only consist of immediate family members and close friends.On the other, the audience might consist of those folks plus a whole host of others that include that include such notables as members of the clergy, maybe a shrink, some self help gurus and the guy that owns the candy store down the block and sells you the morning papers.
Is it no wonder I’d feel threatened?
Why are they doing this in the first place?
I’m guessing it’s because all else has failed and those that care about you are thinking that if you were to be left to your own devices, chances are you’re going to wind up dead, broke or defeated.
What happens during one?
Again, I don’t have any first hand experience but from what I’ve read about and heard from people who do is that the individual being intervened upon is usually unaware of what is about to happen. Usually the people doing the intervening have prepared beforehand what they’re going to say and try to anticipate the responses they’re going to get. This way, unless things get too emotional or even physical, some degree of control can be maintained during the session.
Each member will usually (Oh my God, I hate saying this) “share their feelings” about the “intervenee” and just how their behavior is having an effect on their lives. They’ll usually take turns and let one person finish their thoughts before moving on to the next one. I guess this is to allow them ample time to express their thoughts and to keep the “intervenee” from feeling ganged up on.
Next, depending on the behavior intended to be corrected and even though it’s probably failed in the past, they might recommend an appropriate rehab clinic or to seek even more professional help.
I’m thinking that the outpouring of emotions by the ones doing the intervening are intended to have a profound impact on the “intervenee”. That some long forgotten switch will click on or that a ray of light that they’ve never seen before will come into view and that they’ll take a good hard look in the mirror at themselves and vow to change their behavior. Naturally, the interveners will pledge their support and promise to do anything within their means to help the “intervenee” and tears, hugs and handshakes rule the day.
Do they really work?
The jury is still out on that one and when they do come back, they'll probably be hung. I’m willing to bet that we’ve all known a person or two during our lifetimes who have struggled with self destructive behavior. Shit, maybe you’ve even gone through a bout or two of it yourself.
It’s been my experience that people don’t change that type of behavior solely because of what other people might think. Oh, they might make public promises with the best of intentions that they’ll change their errant ways but in the long run most of those promises will be broken. See, those promises were made to somebody else.
It’s the promises that you make to yourself that are the ones you’re most likely going to keep.