Spinning Out of Control: Michael Jackson and Intervention

In the continuing fall-out from Michael Jackson’s abrupt death, it is apparently becoming clearer that there were a number of warning signs about his behavior.

In the New York Times article linked above, Sarah Kershaw looks at various types of intervention strategy and asks if either could have helped avoid the tragedy that ended Jackson’s life. As a psychiatrist and coach I agree that both “classic” intervention and “motivational interviewing” can sometimes be powerful tools in correcting self-destructive behaviors. However, there ultimately has to be “buy-in” from the person in trouble.

The news lately seems to be full of instances of powerful celebrities and business people whose lives have suddenly and drastically spun out of control. In many cases, it is that very success that can make them difficult to reach; there is sometimes an illusion around such people that they have everything under control.

Coaching teaches us that while a support network of close family and friends is a key factor in a well-rounded life, self-management is also a key component. We have to conduct an honest investigation into our lives and see if we are open enough with those around us to let them know when we are in trouble. One also has to truly see an addiction-free lifestyle as part of our vision for an ideal life. Only in those cases can intervention and support happen early enough, and truly be effective.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the issue.


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