Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Phobias, fears and dislikes (long)
Re: Phobias, fears and dislikes (long)
Ian N. Ford FRSH
Thu, 4 Feb 1999 12:34:20 -0000
Thanks Paul !
Your post conveyed in a very real way for me what the issues are ...
unfortunately there are people in our organization who regard any sort of
psychological difference / disability as being due a " lack of moral fibre
" - a bit like the generals in WW1 who had seventeen year-old kids with "
shell shock " ( PTSD) shot for cowardice " in order to maintain morale ".
From: Paul S. Thompson <paulie@HOME.MSEN.COM>
To: SCOUTS-L@LISTSERV.TCU.EDU <SCOUTS-L@LISTSERV.TCU.EDU>
Date: 04 February 1999 10:43
Subject: Phobias, fears and dislikes (long)
> I've been following the thread concerning the Scout who is too afraid of
>water to earn his swimming merit badge. Some folks are of the
>make-him-do-it-it's-good-for-him mind set, some are of the
>forcing-him-won't-do-any-good school of thought, and Neil Lupton is of the
>Billy Martin ("I feel strongly both ways") group (g).
> I am of the belief that we, as Scouters, are not qualified to determine
>if a boy has a phobia, a fear or just a dislike of water (anything,
>really). We certainly are not qualified to propose solutions to a suspected
>problem. Those determinations are for the Scout, his parents and qualified
>medical personnel who have actually examined the boy.
> To suggest that his Scout leaders should help him face his fears is
>dangerous, wrongheaded and, probably, just begging for a lawsuit. That his
>leaders should request that he provide some proof of the disability may
>provoke a litigious parent to sue over an unwarranted invasion of the
>youth's privacy. That's for the lawyers to argue.
> Phobias are downright debilitating. Me? I can't even look at a picture of
>a snake. Intellectually, I know that the snake can't reach out of the
>picture and bite me but, deep down, I KNOW that the snake is going to reach
>out of the picture and bite me. I don't chase golf balls into swampy areas;
>I don't swim in ponds; I don't do anything that will likely put me near a
>snake. Honestly. I know it is extremely illogical, but it just doesn't
> Should I face my fear? I'm 43 years old and it hasn't overly disrupted my
>life, yet. It hasn't kept me from achieving reasonable success in my line
>of work (I'm a computer programmer). It hasn't kept me from enjoying the
>outdoors (although it costs me an extra buck or two in lost golf balls). It
>hasn't hurt my family nor made me a lesser person. I am just terrified of
>snakes. I hasten to add that I don't hate snakes -- they have a right to
>live and be happy -- I am just afraid of them.
> If I were forced by the BSA to do anything with a snake, the BSA would
>lose one registered leader. If a friend played a practical joke that
>involved a snake, that person would have one less friend.
> I suspect that if a Scout were forced by his SM to confront his phobia,
>his troop may be diminished by one. If you force a person into a
>confrontation with his phobia it will cost you his trust and respect.
>Absolutely. Without question.
> What, after all, is the purpose of Scouting? I think it is to help a
>young man become all he can be. If he can be a swimmer, great. If he can't
>be a swimmer, so be it. Non-swimmers have been known to succeed in life.
> We, on this list, should recognize that otherwise normal people do,
>indeed, have phobias. If those phobias interfere with the pursuit of a
>complete life, we should encourage treatment by qualified individuals.
>Under no circumstances should we try to diagnose and treat psychological
> Now, for the stickier question: Should the Scout with a water phobia be
>able to qualify for his Eagle if he does not earn his swimming merit badge?
>I think he should. When it comes to water, he may be as unable to swim as
>anyone confined to a wheelchair. A panic-stricken Scout would literally be
>"in over his head" if he were forced into the water and the potential for
>tragedy too great to ignore.
> Believe me, unless you've lived with a phobia, you just cannot appreciate
>how difficult they truly are.
> Sorry about the length of this. I just feel very strongly about the
>Paul S. Thompson, Committee Chair
>Clinton Valley Council