Thursday, October 11, 2007

Provocative Therapy used on 'Heroes'

Provocative Therapy was brilliantly (if inadvertently) illustrated in last night’s episode of the popular series, Heroes. The Japanese character (Hero by name and position) who can time travel and who is on a mission to ‘save the world’ has teleported himself from Japan to the US to fulfill his destiny.

In last night’s episode, Hero is sought out and found by his sister and father, the head of a large Japanese corporation, from which he has absconded. His father wants him to come back and be vice president with a view to eventually becoming president. The conversation between brother and sister that follows is a perfect example of the provocative tool Make an Absurd Suggestion.

Instead of embarking on the futile process of explaining why he cannot return to Japan to exploit this massive opportunity, Hero uses Provocative Therapy. The conversation went something like this:

Hero: Okay I’ve decided that I will come to Japan and become vice-president.
Sister: That’s good news!
Hero: And when I come back the first thing I will do is consolidate management in Tokyo.
Sister: Consolidate management! That will be catastrophic! You can’t do that!
Hero: Smiling. I can do anything. I’m executive vice president. The company is in trouble. What else can be done?
Sister: Angrily, confidently and in a style most inappropriate for Japanese women gives a host of useful suggestions for the company, leaving the father astonished and surprised.
Hero: (continuing to provoke) Ah, what do you know of these things?
Sister: Even angrier. I’ve worked for this company… I’ve seen…. If anybody knows what is to be done it’s me!

Point made. Father and new female executive vice president depart for Japan. Just a little ‘distraction’ (title of the episode was ‘Distractions’) that Hero needed to solve with Provocative Therapy in order to get on with his mission of saving the world.

This is a superb illustration of Make an Absurd Suggestion, an important tool of Provocative Therapy whether or not the makers of the programme have ever heard of it or not. Hero’s absurd suggestion of ‘consolidating management’ kindly provoked his sister into having the confidence to verbalise her own highly sensible opinion and obvious candidacy for taking over. This is exactly what provocative therapists see day in and day out in their practices.

You can catch a repeat of this episode on BBC 2, tonight 11th October at 11.20 pm.