Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Creative Thought Case Study: Daniel

Daniel was seven years old when his mother, Carolann, asked me for help. Mealtimes had become a frustrating battle for their family as Daniel took longer and longer to finish his food. Breakfast especially was a problem. Carolann's morning routine of getting Daniel and his older brother Thomas ready for school and heading out the door at 7:40 sharp was deteriorating as every day, Daniel sat in front of his soggy cereal and cooling toast, refusing to let Carolann take the food away, but also refusing to eat any faster. Carolann would ask, demand, beg, coax and cajole Daniel to finish up so she and her boys could make it to school and work on time. She actually resorted to getting Daniel and herself up 45 minutes earlier each morning in an attempt to maintain her schedule. Carolann was running out of ways to keep herself and her boys on time.

Cause and Effect:

I asked Carolann about Daniel's birth. Birth script is a crucial part of who we are and how we view the world. Birth is our first experience of change and of aliveness, and has a huge impact on how we handle both of those issues as we grow and develop. Although our birth experience is pre-verbal, each of us remembers vividly how we were viewed, treated and handled as we emerged from our mother's womb into independent life.

Daniel was an induced birth, meaning that Carolann's obstetrician had given her a drug to start her labor and hurry the birth process along. Daniel's first experience of change, therefore, was of being suddenly forced out of the womb, down the birth canal and into life on someone else's schedule. An authority figure, in this case the obstetrician, had imposed his own timing on a process that belonged to Daniel. At the same time, since the inducement resulted in Daniel's arrival into the world, he now believes that inducement and aliveness go hand in hand. 

But no one likes to be forced. Daniel's natural inclination to rebel against inducement of any kind is in direct conflict with his belief that nothing can be accomplished without it. He now faces the double bind of disliking and distrusting authority figures and schedules to the exact degree that he believes he needs them. At the age of seven, his beliefs are expressed by disrupting his mother's timing and doing a little scheduling of his own.

I advised Carolann to speak to Daniel briefly and directly, telling him that his timing is perfect and that no matter how long he needs to finish any task, she loves and respects him. This was all it took to give Daniel ownership of his mealtimes. Carolann reported back to me that Daniel not only finishes his food in a reasonable amount of time, but has become willing to ask for either more or less food, something he would never do before. Carolann continues to teach Daniel that his own sense of timing is important and they are learning together to respond to situations in present time, rather than react to past conditioning.

I will be presenting more information on birth scripts in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment