The art of bringing the distracted individual back on track

These are days when the distractions on various counts are increasing day after day. The role of mass media and social media is huge. There is not a single day when some horror story is reported in the newspapers. Yet, the parents, teachers, and friends have a big role in making amends. Certain vital steps in this direction are discussed in some detail in this article.


This is a true-life story, reported from Madurai in South Tamil Nadu, some twenty years ago. It had all the stuff of a masala Tamil movie. It was not made known to the media due to the influence of the father. How the boy was saved is a big lesson. Aditya ( name changed) was the son of a civil contractor, who had links with the ruling party of the State, in the nineties. He bagged a number of civil contracts from the Tamil Nadu Government. He had too many friends in powerful places and enemies too. His father was not rich when Aditya was just seven years old. Yet, he would listen to the conversation. His father would engage the services of some goondas to silence the poor of a particular locality, who would not part with their land. By the time he was fifteen, his mother, who had a huge sobering influence on him, warned him not to even talk too much to his father, who had grown rich through very dubious means. He was rolling in wealth. Being the only son, Aditya needed only a spark to be ignited to lead to the wrong path.

This is what exactly what happened. His dream girl came in the form of one Ramya ( name changed). She happened to be the enemy of his father. This was unknown to him. He just shared the information with this mother. When some background check was made, the mother knew the connection. She warned Aditya hat his father would never approve the girl. Aditya had made a promise to marry her. His father came to know about the affair. He engaged his goondas to kidnap the girl to his guest house. The girl was severely warned for six hours and let off. However, the girl was never able to forget Aditya. It was then that a good counselor came into the life of Aditya. She advised him to first concentrate on his studies. He could perhaps marry the girl on a later date when the fathers could patch up.

Aditya went on to become a good mechanical engineer, and the girl completed her commerce education. The patience paid off. The fathers became friendly when they both joined the same party. They had one common enemy in the same party. The romance was approved. However, Aditya secured a job in Dubai and took his wife there. He told his father that he was not interested in his business at all.

The aforesaid true story is one example of timely help in the form of a counselor. Some good steps to be taken to bring the distracted back on track are a) Give all the positive strokes b)Engage services of professional counselors c) Remove the bad influences to the extent possible d) Get the affected person to change environments quickly and e) Ensure that all negative influences are zero.

Give all the positive strokes

The field of Applied Behavioral Sciences has a very interesting tool called Transactional Analysis. In this tool, there is this thing called positive strokes. This is very simple. This just means a small pat on the pack or an affectionate hug and then reinforcement of positive feelings. One just needs to tell the person" you are capable" and reassure him or her that nothing is lost and that the opportunities to improve and milk one's talents are very good. This is done systematically. The trick is to get the person to empty all the negative thoughts from his or her mind.

Engage services of professional counselors

Apart from the positive strokes, one often needs the services of a professionally trained counselor. In fact, in the economically poor sections, the people are put on to the trained counselors at the various schools of social work. The MA ( Social Work) students also get to do their internship in counseling in the second year. They would happily do that as part of their learning in what is called the Medical and Psychiatric Social Work, which is one of the specializations. There are counseling units attached to the very famous Schools of Social Work at Indore, Baroda, Loyola College, Chennai, the TISS, Mumbai and so on. The Madras School of Social Work also has one such counseling unit. It is indeed imperative that those who are distracted elements get such counseling.

Remove the bad influences to the extent possible

This is extremely important. In the aforesaid case study, the mother was too good. She was deeply spiritual and religious. She never approved of anything that the father did. The son did take part in many social projects and his focus was never diluted. She was shrewd enough to take him to a trained counselor. The father did try to intervene, but the mother told him to keep off, rather firmly. The girl in question too waited patiently for the right time to take up the larger issue of marriage.

Get the affected person to change environments quickly

Very shrewd parents do this immediately. They are quick to understand that the change in environment is urgently required. In one recent case, one young IT professional was finding it difficult to adjust to a girl who had very expansive and very ambitious tastes. Their family backgrounds were different. The break up happened. However, it was never smooth. The man was not able to forget everything quickly. However, his father insisted that he seek a transfer to another location. He did that and was transferred to Noida. In that new location, he found a new meaning in life by concentrating more on his work. He went abroad and got to marry someone who was so close to him in terms of common interests. The father, in this case, a professor of Economics, was able to quickly act, as he knew the entire problem in depth. The mother in the first case was so keen in her son taking up a job in Dubai, so that even after marriage, he could settle down there. This is exactly what happened. Furthermore, the girl also got a job there.

Ensure that all negative influences are zero

A bit of handholding is very essential, even when the counseling is going on. In the case of drunkards, this is very important. The poor families with limited incomes have this big problem. The man is okay for a while and then goes back to the bad ways. The wife plays a crucial role. If she is a little more caring and reinforces only positive feelings, the men do change, as has been seen in a large number of cases.


Those who are distracted, who have very bad habits and so on, require systematic interventions on lined discussed above. Each of the aforesaid steps is very elaborate and not so easy to put into practice. It requires tact and the involvement of the entire family.


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