3. Working With Teenagers
3.1 A Health Class
Not too long ago we were asked by a high school health teacher to address his senior class on some topic we deemed appropriate. He had become mildly interested in Natural Hygiene after attending a lecture of ours some months before and thought the concept should be introduced to his students.
We decided to present the seven steps in the evolution of pathology, a concept we have found usually well accepted by young minds.
We had considerable difficulty in locating the lecture room but, after numerous inquiries, we finally found it hidden deep in the hollow of the earth! The “health” room was actually built underground. It had no windows and all classes were conducted under incandescent lighting. A ventilation system apparently recycled the stale air throughout the building. We learned, on inquiry, that the heating and air-conditioning units were “self-contained,” the introduction of outside air being deemed unnecessary except as directed through minimal vents.
It was in this underground dungeon that lectures on health were held. The various rooms in the facility were devoted to activities as diverse as lectures and discussions on hygiene, sex, biology and so on. We silently asked of ourselves, “How can health be taught where health cannot be found?”
Since we had arrived at the lecture hall some five minutes or so before the class was to convene, we had ample opportunity to observe the about-to-be-adults as they strolled into the room. And stroll and shuffle in they did! They seemed totally oblivious to the fact that guest instructors were present and kept up their loud chatter, their calling from one end of the room to the other as friends sauntered in.
As the students took their seats, some immediately laid their heads down on their folded arms, while others just kept desk hopping or from one part of the room to another. It was as if we were invisible.
Suddenly, a rather attractive girl entered the room. Loudly, and completely without hesitation, a male voice rang out and we heard, “Hi, June! Have you made out today, yet?” No one in the class seemed to pay much attention to the question, although a few did giggle. “No,” came back the girl’s reply. Then the young man said, “That’s OK. Meet me after class and I’ll take care of that!
No one in the whole class that we could see either looked up or stopped his chatter. Apparently this open exchange was too common to cause excitement or comment. We had to assume that this kind of public sexual encounter was the “in-thing” among this particular age group.
When the teacher arrived, the chatter, the giggling and the squirming, continued. We observed two or three students who were actually attempting to read. They sat hunched over their books and reclined well back in their seats, not on their buttocks but apparently on some portion of their spinal column. As far as we could see, there wasn’t a single straight spine among either the boys or the girls in the entire room, rather a frightening thing when one considers that these young people represent the future fathers and mothers of the coming generation. The teacher was a tall, rather well-developed, young man, but neither his presence nor ours seemed to make any impact on the students. In fact, he had to call them to attention several times before the noise began to subside and some measure of attention was gained.
Since there were some matters of immediate concern to individual members of the class, the teacher took these up first and, while he was thus engaged, we had occasion to take a good look at the seated fifty or so young people, most of whom were between seventeen and eighteen years of age and, since this particular school was in one of the more affluent neighborhoods, we assumed that all the students probably came from upper middle-class homes and that most would probably go on to colleges of their choice throughout the country to continue their education.
As we took a critical look at these teenagers, we saw no health among them. Instead, we saw curved spines housing encapsulated lungs; pimply skins, some overly flushed, some pasty in color; lack-luster hair, overly crimped in the girls and many already thinning in the boys. A lack of vitality was evident in most, so much so that they slouched in their chairs or sat with head drooped to their chests; the hyperkinetic, of which there were many, twisted and squirmed in their seats. We saw not a single person sitting erect at his desk with feet firmly planted on the floor, with head held tall, resting on a well-formed neck. And, not a single person appeared intellectually curious about the topic of the day which had been previously well advertised. They seemed just to be there because this class was part of a curriculum required for graduation.
Later that day, we both commented, “Can’t they SEE”! Are their teachers, administrators, their parents and physicians, their coaches and health teachers all blind? Can they not see that this is all wrong? That this is not health? These are bodies saturated with poison. This is disease, rampant with foreboding terror for the future not only of these young people but of our nation. How can we, as a nation, hope to survive when these, the children of the most affluent of our people, have so little vitality, such a void of intellectual curiosity, when they look and act as these young people look and act? We asked of ourselves, “If this is the level of wellness displayed by the children of the affluent members of society, what can be said about the children of families less economically secure?”
3.2 The Drugging of Children
Another time Dr. Elizabeth was to speak before a group of sophomore students, tenth-graders. We were requested to meet the teacher in the nurse’s office. There we found a group of about ten teenagers lined up sitting in chairs along one wall. When the nurse saw us at the door, she left the group, made her apologies to us and said that she would be with us in a few moments. “I have to give these kids their shots,” she said, and off she went. We watched in horror as she went from youngster to youngster and either gave each one a pill or an injection.
After the children had all received their poisons for the day from her reluctant hands, the nurse came back to us and commented, “I really don’t like to give these kids these drugs, but their doctors have prescribed them, so I have to!” Of course, we knew why they had been prescribed, but we asked anyway. The answer came back, “Oh! They’re all so hyper. The medicine settles them down.”
A few weeks ago a mother consulted us about her daughter, age 15. She said she couldn’t quite put her finger on what was wrong with the girl, but something was definitely out of character. She had always been a “healthy” child, never a problem but now the girl was too quiet some times and yet hyper at others. Also, she appeared to “leave the planet” on occasion, and was just not “with it.” Sometimes, too, she was just plain “moody” and often difficult to live with, crying for no particular reason.
We suggested to the worried mother that it would be advisable to have a comprehensive blood test made. We also requested and received a diet diary for one week and a rather complete medical history which revealed the customary childhood diseases and the usual complement of drugs which had been prescribed on numerous occasions.
Dr. Robert completed the Bursuk-McCarter Bionutritional Blood Test Analysis and Profile within the week. We were both astounded and dismayed by what this report revealed. This fifteen-year-old child’s body was obviously revving in high gear. Out of the 33 required test readings, at least half were above the optimal level and eight were ready to jump off the chart. We recognized the signs of luxuriant metabolism that had gotten out of hand. Everything confirmed a body well saturated with poisons of one kind or another, poisons that were rapidly wasting this girl’s substance.
We immediately notified the mother that we would like to meet with her daughter alone and inquired if the girl had a boyfriend. We learned that she did indeed have a boyfriend and that they were extremely close, almost inseparable. We suggested that he come with the girl and this was satisfactorily arranged. You see, by this time, we were convinced that there might be more here than one would normally expect, and such proved to be the case.
We met with these two teenagers with their parents consent, but without their, parents” presence. We told the youngsters that whatever they told us would be held in the strictest confidence. What we heard on that day was a tale of unbelievable destruction of both body and mind. We have no reason to doubt the authenticity of that confidence. In fact, everything we have heard since confirms it.
When shown the blood test Analysis and Profile and, after comparing her revealing Profile with that of another reasonably healthy young person, the girl confessed that she had been on drugs since she had been about twelve years of age. She had been introduced to them by her school teacher father, first to marijuana, and then later to cocaine.
The girl’s boyfriend who was seventeen years of age, was a heroin addict and it was he who had introduced her to that drug, although they both said they preferred cocaine. They smoked marijuana several times a week; drank alcoholic beverages including wine, beer, and whatever they could get their hands on. They admitted to being sexually active, having intercourse almost every day in cars, in the school basement, at either his or her home, or at the home of friends when the “gang” had their “sex” parties.
We inquired how they financed their habits and were bid that the young man was a pusher, that he sold drugs to all the other kids at school When we inquired how much he made, he simply replied, “Enough! Almost all the kids are on the stuff. It’s easy money!”
By this time the young people were both talkative and so we let them talk while we sat back and listened. The girl told us that her mother was divorced, had legal custody of her for 6 months a year, and worked. The nature of her employment necessitated her being out of town quite frequently. On such occasions, a friend who lived nearby would look after the girl but the looking after amounted to telephoning every evening at about 10 p.m. to ascertain if the girl was at home. If she answered the phone, it was assumed that she was “safe,” even though there was no responsible adult present in the house. On such occasions, with the mother safely out of town and the neighbor several streets removed, the girl and her boyfriend made a night of it, often having their friends in for sex exchange and drugs.
When the mother was in town, the daughter simply told her trusting mother that she was going to a girlfriend’s house to study and spend the night. Apparently afraid of her daughter’s possible wrath, the mother never checked on her whereabouts. In truth, on many of these occasions, the daughter would be at the boyfriend’s house, drinking, and taking drugs. It seemed that the young man had been an unwanted child and his parents apparently didn’t care what he did, just so long as he didn’t bother them and didn’t get into trouble with the “law!”
This was the picture of youth that we received that day: troubled in mind, filled with junk foods, chemicalized soft drinks and drugs; victims of irregular eating, of parents who either did, not care or were too occupied with their own concerns to worry about their children’s well-being; children thrown into an adult world without any conscious awareness of the consequences of their own acts; children with immature bodies engaging in sex beyond the full understanding that they might bring children into the world.
3.3 We Consult Our Attorney
We felt obliged to consult our attorney on this case. In this day and age when practitioners of non-orthodox schools, are often under close scrutiny, we keep in pretty close touch with him. We were, of course, righteously angry at the bold neglect and actual emotional abuse inflicted/on these young people by neglectful parents and by society at large. We had, of course, been aware of the fact that teenagers were “into” drugs, but this was right in our own backyard, among “our” kind of people, not in Detroit or New York or London, but right here. We had been dismayed at learning that almost every single teenager in their peer group was using drugs, some for years. Alcohol was commonplace. No one thought any more about drinking than about going to class. Almost all smoked, either marijuana or regular cigarettes. We felt like shouting to the world, to the parents, the school authorities and to the law about the means and methods being used to push drugs on the school premises, inside and outside of the classrooms. But we listened instead to the voice of caution which, as practitioners, we felt obliged to heed.
We were told that we should and could do absolutely nothing since we had received all this information in confidence. We could not even advise the parents as to their children’s health-destroying behavior and practices. Our attorney pointed out to us that the children, if they so decided, could change their testimony and leave us vulnerable. We could prove absolutely nothing.
3.4 We Do the Possible
Subsequently, we met with the parents of the girl in the presence of both young people, the parents expressing a wish for the boy to be at the consultation, something we do not ordinarily consider. We presented the parents with the results of the blood test and suggested that certain remedial steps should be given immediate consideration. We divulged no confidences. Nevertheless, we did strongly suggest that the proper course of action in this case would be for both teenagers to fast and to do so immediately; that, in the girl’s case at least, the need was urgent. The fasting period over, then they should begin a well-planned Hygienic program which was to include the whole spectrum of organic requisites, especially exercise. The two young people thought the idea was “neat,” and agreed to follow our instructions, whereupon everybody left quite pleased with themselves.
However, there was no follow-through. We had suggested that the girl should be sent to a Hygienic
retreat and, indeed, inquiries were made by the parents as to prices, possible dates, and so on. However, as so often happens with this age group, these teenagers decided to take matters into their own hands because they didn’t want to be separated and the boy could not go along with her to the fasting institution. So, without consulting with us, they decided to detoxify themselves! Foolishly, their parents agreed to let them try it.
Probably our students are way ahead of us in our story. Their fasting lasted one day! In that short a time, they began to experience so much pain, diarrhea and vomiting that they had to break the fast. They even began to hallucinate! The mother of the girl became so alarmed at the course of events that she refused all further advice.
We must assume, therefore, that both of these young people are still claiming that their parents, their teachers and all of us adults don’t “dig it.” Since we have not heard to the contrary, we must also assume that both teenagers are still confirmed drug users and that their bodies are becoming ever more saturated with poisons with every passing day. We know that the day of reckoning will come and that it will be a sad day, indeed, for all concerned, but especially for them.
3.5 The Younger Set
We bring you still a third example because it presents a situation which is somewhat similar, but also different, both in family involvement and in its legal ramifications.
A Hygienic mother brought her 13-year-old son to us. The boy lacked coordination. He could see a ball or other object clearly enough when it was coming toward him, but he could not control his muscles well enough to catch it. He was unable to maintain a proper balance when riding a bicycle, often bumping into his mother when he accompanied her on her morning rides.
The young lad’s face was pimply, many of the sores oozing pus. We learned on questioning him that he was hooked on sugared foods—ice creams, chocolate candies, cakes, cokes, and other drugged foods. He had an almost insatiable craving for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Stu was a very pleasant child, extremely good looking if one looked behind the acne and, strangely, did
not appear to be hyperkinetic. In fact, he was a rather quiet lad. The pimples, of course, betrayed a highly toxic inner state and it had been these and his lack of muscle coordination that had prompted his mother to bring him to us.
The father in this family was a very physical person. He liked football and other contact sports. The boy, however, seemed to take more after his mother than the father, being rather slight for his age and, as we have said, a quiet sort. However, Stu did want to please his father and had ambitions of becoming a professional soccer player. He said that he knew he was too small to play either football or basketball but thought he could qualify as a soccer player if he could just get his muscles under control. It seems the father was always after his son to “shape up” and be a “man.”
Since the boy was well motivated, we set up a program which included a diet more Hygienic than his customary fare but one not so strict as to turn him completely off. The family physician cooperated with us and arranged an appointment for the boy with a physical therapist who designed an exercise program geared to his specific needs. The mother happily endorsed both programs as did the boy.
Apparently Stu cooperated quite well for a time and showed considerable improvement but, some four years later, we were again contacted by the mother who said she had a “problem.” Her son was now a young man, some 17 years of age, and was about ready to be graduated from high school. It seems that he had informed his mother that, at that time, he would be “taking off!”
We decided to meet the mother by herself before tackling the problem, to see if, indeed, it was soluble at this late stage. A very revealing story was hesitatingly imparted to us by the mother. It seems that, in the intervening years since we had last met, the husband and wife had slowly grown apart and were now totally estranged, coming and going in the same house, but as strangers.
The young man, Stu, with the cooperation of his father was busy growing marijuana in the back yard! Stu harvested the weed and then sold it to his peers “at school.” We later learned that Stu was actively selling the stuff at the local junior high school and that business was quite brisk, the demand steady. Again, we heard the story, “It’s such easy money!”
We learned that both father and son were smoking marijuana and that, over the weekends, Stu, with is father’s consent, had “parties” for his school “buddies,” both male and female, in the family home.
All we could do in this case was to point out to the mother that both she and her husband were not only contributing to the delinquency of a minor child by consenting to illicit activities but also helping to destroy other parents children.
It seems that the mother had become extremely weak-willed due to the fact that her husband, in order to protect his easy money, had actually used physical violence on her as a means of compelling her silence. We pointed out to her that because she did not actively protest and even go so far as to destroy the plantings or to forbid the drug parties in her house, that she could not be excused of culpability if the matter were brought to the attention of the authorities. We advised the woman to seek the advice of an attorney and to consult with a marriage counselor.
Again, we went back to our attorney and, as before, he pointed out that we were boxed into a corner. We could not divulge the confidence of consultation. He went on to make a further point. In this case, whatever knowledge we had was based solely on hearsay and, again lacking proof, we could make ourselves vulnerable to a legal suit for considerable damages if a false arrest followed our giving information to the police.
3.7 Methadone and Heroin
This last case was somewhat more successful. The client, a young man aged 19, was referred to us by a counselor at a local hospital who had heard about our work from a staff member at the hospital who had himself been a former client.
Jim had turned himself into the hospital admitting to heroin addiction. He was currently on methadone, a supposedly nonaddictive drug which is used as a “substitute” for heroin by physicians. Jim was a farmer who lived on a ranch near the Mexican border. It was easy for him to get all the heroin he wanted but he wanted desperately to get “clean” of all drugs and so willingly came to our office.
We learned that Jim’s main interest was growing fruit trees and vegetables and said his farm was beautiful to behold. He was fully aware of the dangers involved in his continued use of heroin. We further briefed him on the systemic damage possible when any drug, even methadone, is used. Jim listened intently and, being a highly-intelligent person, he agreed that, no matter the cost, he would make valiant attempt to avoid all drugs but would do so on a “step-down” program since he had the responsibility for e care of an invalid mother and the farm and felt that he could not, at this time at least, enter a fasting institution.
We devised a program for Jim which included the Extended Detoxification Plan as given in Lesson 63 on “Hair” but the time intervals were expanded. At the same time, with the hospital’s approval, Jim began to reduce the methadone intake—very gradually. He willingly cooperated with an 80% raw food diet since he could use all his own home-grown produce of which he was very proud. This approach was successful to the extent that the methadone dosage was cut in half within a relatively short time.
Jim is still fighting to win and we think he will soon approach his goal of once again being “clean!”
3.8 The Hygienist and the Addict
Addiction to any drug is amenable to fasting. The body saturated with poisons of any kind, including nicotine, heroin, marijuana, cocaine and all the mood-altering drugs, will give up its drugs while on a fast. The so-called “Withdrawal” symptoms of the drug addict are often very severe and include cramps, nausea, “spacing out,” chills, violent sweatings, and others of lesser importance. The first few days are the most difficult from all accounts we have read, with symptoms continuing but lessening in intensity and usually concluding within a two-week period.
In drug addiction it is important to fast until the return hunger, the classic signal that the body fluids are clean.” However, if the addiction has covered a period of some years, it may prove necessary for the once-addict to repeat the fast periodically, at least for from 10 days to two weeks simply because the “weakness,” the tendency to yearn for the addicting poison, often remains.
Many will express willingness and a desire to become cleansed of drugs but only relatively few will be successful in following through. This is largely due to lack of willpower and/or sufficient motivation. One can preach all one wants to about the evils of drug usage. These are all well known to the addict. There has to be a higher motivation to keep him on his cleansing program and that is often difficult to find.
The National Courier of July 9, 1976, in an article by Bill Pennewill, claims that Teen Challenge (see previous reference) is the best drug rehabilitation program around. It apparently has a 70 percent “cure” rate. Its emphasis is on the spiritual and they encourage those who seek their help to become “born-again” Christians. No changes are made in their dietary practices except perhaps to avoid obvious “junk” foods.
Teen Challenge, like Natural Hygiene, requires a “tough, cold-turkey approach.” Subjects just stop using drugs from the moment they seek the help of Teen Challenge.
The fasting approach recommended by Natural Hygienists has not as yet been properly promoted by those of us in Natural Hygiene. If it were more widely used, its success rate would approximate 100% and fewer former addicts would revert. Additionally, cleansing of the body fluids of drugs would occur much more completely and to rapidly than by any other method. Forty-three percent of those who get off drugs through Teen Challenge become addicted again. After a prolonged total fast, the use of any drug makes the taker on first use so violently sick that more often than not, he never tries a second time!
Obviously, those persons who “get into” drugs do so for a variety of reasons: peer pressure, emotional problems of one kind or another, undiagnosed illness, and so on. Following cleansing of the system by whatever means, the former addict requires help to solve the problems or situations which first caused him to use drugs. We suggest that professional counseling can be very useful. Teenagers need support even more than adult addicts. They should be encouraged to join groups of other like-minded teens. Probably this is a major reason for the proven success record of Teen Challenge and it might be helpful
to refer prospective clients to such an organization.
In our discussion we have, from time to time, put forth some signs that may indicate addiction of one kind of another, such signs as nervousness, hysteria, hyperkinetic behavior, drowsiness, inattention, looking away with reluctance to look directly at the practitioner, and other typical symptoms. When these are observed, it may be useful to suggest a private meeting with the young person. On ascertaining the true situation, then the practitioner must present the facts of Hygiene to his young client, telling him something about the realities of organic existence. He must point out that there are three avenues open and only three: 1. Continuing his present practice with the certainty that his life will either come to an abrupt end through overdosing or will be extended for an indefinite time with increasingly high dosages required and an uncertain future which will include an unknown number of afflictions of one kind or another, including but not limited to, brain and neural damage, atherosclerosis, malnutrition, kidney and liver disorders, many extremely painful, plus cancer; 2. An Extended Detoxification Program which is admittedly seldom successful in its entirety due mainly to lack of will power; and 3. Total Fasting, always at a fasting institution under the guidance of a practitioner experienced in fasting addicts, this to be followed by a carefully worked out regimen including a diet of raw fruits plus a few vegetables and nuts.
3.9 Teen-Clean Retreats
The problem of teenage drug abuse is admittedly out of hand. As we have already commented, Hygienists can play a constructive role in remedying this situation, not only through individual counseling, by means of lectures and by fostering public awareness programs but, in an even more meaningful way, by opening what we like to call Hygienic Teen-Clean Retreats where teenage addicts, regardless of the type of addiction, can come either to fast and/or to learn about how the full application of Hygienic principles in their lives which could produce dramatic results, positive results which could change their present empty lives into a future filled with promise.
We envisage the formation of nonprofit organizations complete with certain tax advantages at strategic places throughout the country, these expressly designed for the rehabilitation of America’s youth so that the America of tomorrow can survive. Teen-Clean Retreats, located in strategic areas and having the financial support of able adults, can prove to be competent performers in this field simply because it has been well demonstrated that the full application of the principles of Natural Hygiene can be 100% successful, even in difficult cases!
3.10 Other Characteristic Disorders
In our next Lesson, Number 83, we take a journey through an average lifespan, that of a person unfamiliar with the basic principles of Life Science. The journey is divided into nine stages, one of which covers the period from age 10 to age 20—the years during which the child becomes the adult—or almost an adult!
Since we will be reviewing the disorders so frequently observed at this stage in life at that time, we will simply comment there that the characteristic acute diseases of childhood become less frequently experienced generally after puberty, due (as Hygienists well know) to the fact that wrong habits have so dissipated the life force in this short a time that not sufficient vitality exists among many to power the exodus of a rapidly soaring toxicosis.
Thus it is that we begin to see more serious conditions develop, some of these becoming chronic even at this early period in the life course. Inevitably in such cases, the life span is doomed to be seriously curtailed and, more often than not, the life span that remains, brief as it well may be, will be one filled with pain and suffering.
The acute conditions which do continue into the teen years are readily amenable to Hygienic care. We refer to diseases of the respiratory tract, the various catarrhal involvements; also, to those that afflict the gastrointestinal tract, such as colitis, ulcers, and so on; to the rheumatic pains wrongly associated with growth; to the bane of teens, troubling acne and other disfiguring and annoying skin eruptions. Usually, a few days, a week at most, of fasting followed by a carefully controlled diet will be sufficient to alleviate the conditions that trouble the young person, provided, of course, that the Hygienic regime is always coupled with constructive pursuits, including exercise.
Conditions associated with the emerging sexual awareness may prove more obstinate but not necessarily so. Several shorter fasts, for example, may be required to correct the female PMS Syndrome, the discomforts experienced by so many young girls prior to the menstrual period, discomforts which, if allowed to continue and worsen, may lead to emotional problems with the married scene.
3.11 Emotions and the Teenager
The teenage years are the years of maturing, of puberty and adolescence, and it is during these years
that two general problems are usually presented: 1. Problems associated with sexual maturity, and 2. the many difficulties experienced relating to the approach to adulthood, independence, and self-assertiveness.
In order to successfully make the transition from childhood to full adulthood, teens need education, guidance and suitable role models to look up to and, possibly, even emulate. Without these factors and influences being available, many teenagers will flounder in their confusion, often becoming overwhelmed by fears, anxieties, worries and concerns. These are the teens who are easily swayed and led into anti-social practices of minor and major dimensions.
Were it possible to measure all the impairment and inhibitions of systemic function caused by long-sustained deep emotions such as we have enumerated, we adults might be appalled at the amount of harm done to growing youth by our lack of awareness. It has long been known to Hygienists, especially since the pronouncements of J.H. Tilden, M.D., on the subject, that the maintenance of poise is one of the greatest conservators of nerve energy known and that fear is the greatest nerve energy annihilator of which we have any knowledge.
Many teenagers are afraid, afraid of the unknown world out there, afraid because they lack parental understanding, afraid because they lack a suitable male role model in a family split by divorce or in a family where the parents both work and there is no one immediately available to listen to and explain away frightening situations.
Young people become overly anxious when parents and/or others expect more from them than they are or ever will be capable of producing: the football-lover father who insists that his rather frail son participate actively in contact sports; the mother who failed herself to become the greatest dancer of her generation who pushes her young daughter into dance classes when the child has the secret ambition to become a classic pianist or to paint, or perhaps even to become a fine writer.
Intense feelings produce physiological changes which stimulate certain reactions such as either an accelerated or a retarded pulse rate, an increased or diminished endocrine hormonal secretive action which directly influences all cellular metabolism and/or changes in body temperature.
It is well for us to understand that there are three primary emotions that are especially evident in the teen years: love, fear and anger. Because of their youth and vitality, teen responses are usually more or less immediate—they often seem to come in a flash, almost for no reason. This is why so many adults have difficulty “understanding” the members of this age group. But, we should comprehend that these fierce responses are in proportion to the individual’s maturity. Handling our emotions is a learned experience.
Of importance to the Hygienist is the proven fact that when the fluids of the body have been cleansed, emotional control tends to improve. The energy forces of the body are thus directed toward intelligently coping with problem situations rather than buckling under to them either by expressing rage or by simply giving up.
Young people need to be given the opportunity to be successful in small projects, to be allowed to grow into more difficult challenges. Throwing an impossible at a teenager and then expecting perfection can so confuse a young person as to drive him to “show you!” with running away, rebellion, visible disease symptoms and possibly even suicide. Small successes, on the other hand, encourage greater performance because being successful provides pleasurable emotional responses, a more correct type of systemic stimulation.
All disorders which relate to the sexual maturation of the body become of paramount importance during the teen time-frame: anything which influences the appearance of the body or any single part of the body, such as the genitals in the male and the formation of the breasts in the female. If the sexual organs and the body as a whole mature and develop in size normally, the teen is generally happy provided, of course, that all other influencing factors are likewise normal. But, everything else in the teen’s environment can be of the highest and most constructive order with some deficiency sex-wise and the teenager will be thrust into deep despair.
When plagued by emotional troubles, the health of the teenager, indeed, that of all humans, will diminish. The digestive system gives immediate response to emotional unrest and the stomach is generally the first organ to register protest. Digestion is inhibited; glandular secretion by all secreting glands can be either impaired or completely stopped. Even the muscular motions of the gastrointestinal tract can be suspended, sometimes for hours during severe emotional travail. This last is especially prevalent among badly enervated individuals with the result that ingested food simply lies in situ within the confines of the alimentary canal and is there subject to fermentation and putrefaction. Next to overeating and incorrect eating, mental influences cause most of the digestive upsets from which so many teenagers suffer.
The functional impairments caused by overeating, incorrect eating, and a wide variety of emotional disturbances eventually result in toxemic crises of one kind or another, some of which we have listed. If the causes are allowed to continue, organic changes will follow in due course, these according to inherited weaknesses and the intensity and nature of the toxic debris.
In working with teenagers the practitioner must recognize that whatever the present condition may be that brings the youth to your office, it has been caused and that you, working with the parents or other responsible person and he teenager himself, must all do your best, first to ascertain that single cause or multiple causes and then either to remove it (them) completely or to reduce the impact.
Once cause has been ascertained and appropriately dealt with, then a workable plan of action should be presented to all concerned. This plan should provide for successful achievements to follow. For example, suppose the young man or woman is 50 pounds overweight and is greatly troubled by this. The practitioner must explain just how the obesity will be addressed and present reasonable goals to be achieved.
Young women can be driven to the point of hysteria by a bad complexion or drab-looking hair. Young men who are acne-prone can be withdrawn and difficult to deal with. The Hygienist can point with pride to the fact that no one has better looking and finer-grained complexions and/or more luxuriant shiny hair than Hygienists. The fact that you have a plan of action to bring miraculous changes in a young person’s appearance can often prove highly motivating.
Suppose the immediate problem is a lack of a suitable role model, either male or female. Then, group participation under the able direction of a well-motivated and suitable adult should be recommended. Group activity should always be directed toward an area of interest to the teenager himself, not to one of interest to someone else as, for example, an overly-zealous parent.
Sometimes parents don’t listen to their growing children, being overly concerned about economic and other problems affecting the family. Behavior modification needs to be encouraged in such cases. A first step is actually setting out both a time and a place for parent(s) to sit down and meet with the teenager for the purposes of listening, discussing and advising, all without condemnation, shock or criticism. In the absence of a willing parent, it may be necessary for the practitioner to become the confidant.
We remember well one 16-year-old girl who was brought to our attention because of severe digestive cramps, diarrhea, and so on. Her diet appeared to be above average. She was an excellent student in school and appeared to get along well with everybody. A previous physical examination had revealed nothing apparent to cause such a condition.
We decided to have a confidential talk with the girl. We knew, of course, that her father was a minister representing a very strict fundamentalist group. The girl apparently had no quarrel whatsoever with the precepts expounded by her religious faith. However, we learned that recently a conflict had arisen between her and her parents with regard to the showing of a very fine movie which her whole biology class along with their teacher had been invited to attend.
The girls’ parents had forbidden her to attend. This fact had proved a terrible blow to her pride. She was to be the only one in the whole lass who would not be present at the theater party. The particular movie was a fine clean presentation. Several teachers were to accompany the group and they would all be taken to and from the theater in the school bus. Neither we nor the girl could find a single valid reason for her not to attend the showing.
However, we presented her with some reasons we felt she shouldn’t have to go to the movie. 1. Her parents felt obliged to set standards for their parishioners. 2. They obviously loved her and wanted only the best for her, 3. That so long as she was living with her parents she was in no position to force her will upon them, 4. She was presently unable to fend for herself, 5. In the future, when she was ready for college, it would be her loving parents who would continue to provide for her, and, 6. In return for all the financial support and loving care, she actually was being called upon to do a very simple thing, that being not to watch a few hours of flickering images pass across a screen, images that would be gone from memory within a few days or weeks at most.
We talked on and on that afternoon. We listened, we conversed. That was all that was necessary. Shortly thereafter, all the digestive troubles vanished like magic. Emotional poise had been restored.
All concerned within the family should be encouraged to develop family feelings of togetherness, of mutual understanding of concerns of both parents and child; feelings of joy, pleasantness, satisfaction and, most of all, of a shared love. In other words, they should be encouraged to explore the life adventure together, not separated by miles of misunderstandings.
We encourage new practitioners to study behavior modification techniques. We all need to learn how better to encourage our clients to take “baby steps,” to accomplish those small successes which can lead to meaningful emotional development and stability, a state highly conducive to total well-being.
We should at all times remember that teenagers must have their vital needs appropriately met, such as suitable food, clothing and a friendly environment but, for them to reach their full health potential, we must be aware of the fact that they must also have their non-vital needs met as completely as existing circumstances warrant. Furthermore, if the present circumstances are unfavorable, then intelligent steps should be considered in the light of the possible to change them to the extent that they, will more favorably meet the needs of the maturing young man or woman.
3.12 Peer Pressure
In our discussion we have not directly addressed the subject of peer pressure. Since it is more often than not more powerful in the daily life of the youth of today than all the family’s needs, desires and aspirations combined, it is important that this subject be considered, if only briefly.
Accordingly, when a youth has been brought to your office with any kind of physical or emotional problem which is adversely affecting his health, and peer pressure has been instrumental in causing the problem (as was true in the case of the minister’s daughter), then the interview must be carried out in planned sequence.
First, the youth must be able to admit that he has a problem which needs to be solved. Second, that he should not be swayed by his peers when he knows he has the right solution to his problem; third, that the problem, if allowed to continue, will prove detrimental to him both now and probably also in the future; fourth, the problem must be identified and this as precisely as possible fifth, he must be convinced by the evidence that the problem is solvable and that you, his friend and practitioner, have the knowledge of how to solve the problem and that you will show him the ways and means whereby he can overcome the problem.
When the above steps have been taken, then the young person should be shown, by means of a diagram, that he is now HERE, of course, being in his present unfortunate and unhappy state, a condition of mind and/or body which restricts his forward progress, especially his social and interpersonal relationships with his peers of the opposite sex. A list of negatives should be set forth for due consideration.
Once the negatives have been addressed, then the positive potential should be presented, the going from HERE to THERE, there representing a time and place in which the troubling condition will have been entirely removed and the way laid open before the youth for whatever personal ambition or desires that s/he may have deep within the innermost self to be capable of fulfillment. This is the time to express and set forth the “Positivities” which will challenge your young client.
The next step follows logically in sequence. The young client should then be asked, “What will you GIVE, what will you be willing to do, to reach the THERE in your life? To open up the doors that are now closed to you? Will you do THIS, and THIS, and perhaps even THAT?
In proper motivation lies the key to success. This kind of role-playing on paper can often overcome adverse and contrary peer pressure, provided the young person receives kindly and understanding support not only from the practitioner but also from the family. We must convince the teenager that he must do his own thing, not what the crowd wants!
3.13 School Support
While we have many quarrels with the public school system, sometimes support in certain difficult areas can be obtained through working with school counselors as, for example, when the teenager’s interests lie in a definite direction, say in the arts, or in music, or in some particular kind of physical activity.
As a part of their extracurricular offerings, schools quite often provide a wide range of club activities: art clubs, bands and orchestras, singing groups, newspapers, theatre groups and others. The counselor can often direct the student to activities with plenty of opportunities so that the student can enjoy success and the activities themselves.
When alerted to specific needs or desires of a student as for example, the yearning of a now spindly lad to develop his muscles, a physical education coach can often provide splendid advice. Teenage barbell sets are now available suitable for young people, girls and boys, with less than average frames. They cost less than $20 and often are accompanied by an excellent instruction booklet. Sometimes this is all that is required to change tears into radiant smiles of determination.
We suggest that you explore what the schools in your area have to offer. They may provide just what you may need at some future time when you may be called upon to counsel a difficult emotional problem which adversely affects the health of a young client.
- 1. Teenagers—An Endangered Species
- 2. Teen Challenge—Enlightening Statistics
- 3. Working With Teenagers
- 4. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: 57% of Teens Flunk Fitness Tests By Mike Feinsilber, A.P.
- Article #2: Beauty By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #3: Living A Happy Life By F. Alexander Magoun
- Article #4: Wit, Wisdom And Willpower By Edwin Flatto, N.D., D.O.
- Article #5: Kids On The Run