Evie went home to her mother about six months after I arrived. She had stopped “cutting” for more than four months, she was still writing in what we were calling her “journal” by then, and most important to me, she was chemical free. Evie called me two times in the first month just to say hello and to say that she was doing okay. She was in school, and she was glad to be home. She thanked me a few times, and I thanked her for trusting me. We never spoke again.
About four months later, Pamela called. She wanted to let me know that Evie was still in school, doing okay. She said Evie seldom wrote anything in her journal anymore. She also said she thought Evie may have a boyfriend. Nothing had changed with the relationship with her step-father, although Evie, according to Pamela, was much more steady with this unsteady, one-sided, relationship. Finally, Pamela told me she was dating. She met a man at work, they had lunch, and they had dinner. A third date was planned. She sounded happy. I think that’s why she really called, but that’s just me.
This is how it usually ends in my business. It’s rare to have much contact with children and their families once they leave these kinds of facilities, as it should be. After all, we are there to help them during an extended life crisis, not to ensure everyone lives a good life. Our job is to provide them with our security, our trust, our guidance, and to discover and encourage their strengths, as children and families work to move forward in their lives.
If we want a child to change his direction, we must understand what makes him move. Rudolf Dreikers, M.D.
A final few words about Evie. Why, some have asked, was she “hallucinating? Why was she cutting on her arms? What, in a nutshell, is the “cause” of such “madness?” The short, temperament-based answer? Those are behaviors that Spheres (Idealists) use to ward of feelings of shame. A longer answer? This is what one of Keirsey’s disciples, Dr. Milton Lucius, wrote 30 years ago:
“ . . . , the reaction to stress will differ according to a person’s temperament. What may be stressful for the Idealist (Sphere) may be exciting for the Artisan (Star), and perhaps a boring problem for the Guardian (Square) or Rational (Cube). This is so because stress for each temperament is not merely the pressure to act or decide. Such pressure is merely pressure. Stress has particular meaning in temperament theory.
“Stress occurs when an individual does not satisfy the basic desire of his or her particular temperament. This is the essence of a ‘crisis of self-esteem.’ If stress is maintained long enough, or is intense enough, people turn their natural temperamental behavior style to an effort to protect themselves from further stress, and away from further efforts to produce satisfaction for their core need. Their behavior becomes protective rather than productive.” (Milton Lucius, Ph.D., 1983).
Whether you like the short or long answer, those of us temperament trained need not dwell on the “why” of behavior. More important, if the intent is to help, the only question to ask is how do I intervene? And that, whether parent or professional, above all else, is based on temperament.
These tales are about intervention with children who are troubled, or troublesome, and their families.
Why Star, Square, Sphere, and Cube?
I’ve been asked a few times how I decided on geometric shapes to designate the four temperaments. It wasn’t easy. With much consternation at the time – more than 20 years ago – and dozens of workshops since, I’ll be telling that story in my next blog. Hint: you’ll be learning a little about Gestalt (form) Theory as well.
Finally, I started writing “Goth Girl” last year. While reviewing some articles online, I found a video about another girl. Her name is Emily Longden. She was hearing voices too. I wrote a blog about her. You can learn about the Hearing Voices Network, and you can meet – and see – this brave young woman, here.
Next: The Horrible Kid
The next tale is about a nine year old male Star (Artisan) boy who was terrorizing his mother and grandmother. The family was isolated by choice because he was “horrible” at home, and they didn’t want any neighbors. The school was demanding that mother “medicate” her child because he was “horrible” in the classroom. He had no friends. Social Services was threatening to remove him from home and place him in a facility for other “horrible” kids.
In 1999, I was the Executive Director of one of the first private, non-profit “wrap-around” programs in California. Our job was to keep him home and out of placement. See how our team intervened to do that, without therapy, and without those phony chemicals.