I asked him what his occupation was.
"When 1 am sober I work on a newspaper. And alcohol is an occupational hazard there."
I said, "All right, you want me to do something about it—with that history. Now, the thing 1 am going to suggest to you won't seem the right thing. You go out to the Botanical Gardens. You look at all the cacti there and marvel at cacti that can survive three years without water, without rain. And do a lot of thinking."
I said, "Take a good look, and I'm curious to know why you want to look at me."
She said, "Any man who would send an alcoholic out to the Botanical Gardens to look around, to learn how to get around without alcohol, and have it work, is the kind of man 1 want to see! My mother and father have been sober ever since you sent my father out there."
"What is your father doing now?"
"He's working for a magazine. He got out of the newspaper business. He says the newspaper business has an occupational hazard of alcoholism."
Now, that was a nice way to cure an alcoholic. Get him to respect cacti that survive three years without rain. You see you can talk about your textbooks. Today you take up this much. Tomorrow you take up that much. They say you do such and such. But actually you ought to look at your patient to figure out what kind of a man he is—or woman—then deal with the patient in a way that fits his or her problem, his or her unique problem.
This story is a beautiful example of indirect suggestion, applied symbolically.
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