Friday, April 30, 2010

There Be Dragons Here

I can't say I've gotten hooked, but I will admit to having become fond of the television show, Criminal Minds, about a team of FBI profilers who attempt to unravel the criminal mind from week to week. For one thing, it's refreshing to see a depiction of psychiatrists and psychologists that doesn't place us in compromising positions. For another, I enjoy their portrayal of what it means to "look into the darkness" of human experience and struggle with its effect on the characters.

I've was thinking about my post yesterday when I realized I ought to own up to my proclivity for drawing attention to problem areas within relationships. It's an occupational hazard since, most of the time, people don't come to someone like me when things are going well. It's true, former patients will drop by or write to let me know how they're doing, but that's different. When we first meet it's because they aren't doing well.

Sooner or later, if you've done enough of this kind of work, you start wondering if there might a way to "head things off at the pass," and engage in some preventative care. Wellness is what we call it in medicine, i.e. taking better care of oneself, eating right, and getting proper exercise. The same things our mothers told us would keep us as healthy as great, great, great granny, who outlived five husbands and is still playing golf in Florida.

The thing I've discovered is most people don't intentionally get themselves into a painful situation. Willfully, yes, in the sense they've made their own choices, but not intentional in a way that suggests they always knew what they were doing. In retrospect, they see it, but in prospect, they didn't and came to wish they had. When I'm not helping pick up the pieces, I think about those things and try to put them into words a disinterested party might read and say, "Mm, that makes sense." It's my way of looking into the darkness, placing a light at its brink, and to paraphrase Dante, saying, "Weary traveler, beware, there be dragons here."

(Creative Commons image by kizette via Flickr)
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