A scorpion and a frog meet at the edge of a river. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion claims, “Because if I do, I will die too.” Satisfied with the answer the frog allows the scorpion on his back and starts his swim but midway, the scorpion stings the frog. As the frog feels the pain and starts to sink it gasps “Why? Now we’ll both drown.” The scorpion replies: “I can’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
Fables are short stories featuring animals, plants and forces of nature which are given human qualities. Handed down from generation to generation fables date back many centuries with the purpose to teach a lesson, value or to give wisdom. Because variations of the similar fables can be found in all cultures giving humans connection to each other all over the world.
Many adaptations exist on this fable: The Fox and The Scorpion, The Swan and The Scorpion, The Turtle and The Scorpion and they all have the same disastrous end.
Much of the analysis of the story centers on the evil destructive nature of the scorpion but what about the frog? Why would a frog trust a scorpion its mortal enemy? Why is the frog satisfied with the scorpions “because then I’ll die too” answer ? Why didn’t the frog worry about what would happen after they reached the other side of the river and the scorpion has gotten its free ride? Why couldn’t it predict what would eventually happen? … Because it’s in its nature.
Toula Gordillo a Clinical Psychologist (Talk to Teens)has provided educational and psychological services to children, youth and families for twenty years has a program for teens which explains not only the scorpion‘s nature but also the frog’s nature and how they are interconnected and the need for balance in caring.
In the video below her interpretation of The Frog and The Scorpion fable to explain to teens and preteens about two extreme personality dimensions of the ANOL Frog and the AWOL Scorpion. Her AWOL Scorpion description is similar to my description of a “Vicious Bully” in my recent blog post: 3 Types of Bullies: Clueless, Vicious and Flying Monkeys.
In the video below she explains the nature of “overcaring frogs” and “undercaring scorpions” and four personality dimensions.
- General Frog: Kind, caring person who wants to make the world a better place and usually cares about fairness.
- General Scorpion: Person who doesn’t care as much about kindness or fairness. They appear more selfish than Frogs.
- ANOL Frogs: “Adolescent (or Adult) with Narrow/Negative Opinions in Life” are the most extreme Frog. They usually care far too much (100%). This level of caring can hurt them or others. If an ANOL frog stings someone (says or does something hurtful), they feel bad. They can have anxiety, depression, stress, burn-out and self-esteem problems because they care too much about how things ‘should’ be. They are usually very narrow and/or negative in their views.
- AWOL Scorpions: “Adolescent (or Adult) Without Limits” are the most extreme type of Scorpion. They will sting Frogs even if it hurts them as well. They don’t care at all (0%). AWOL Scorpions can talk very well. They may appear to be a Frog, but they are not. They might sound nice at first, but it is in its nature to sting… they cannot help it. If an AWOL Scorpion stings someone they don’t feel bad. They might even enjoy it. They can have self-harm, substance abuse, behavioral problems and illegal activity. They don’t care enough about hurting themselves or others, their health, property or the law.
Everyone is generally either a frog or a scorpion but sometimes scorpions act like frogs and sometimes frogs act like scorpions, depending on the circumstances. The difference between a frog and a scorpion is how much they care.
AWOL Scorpions and ANOL Frogs can have a lot of problems in life.
Sometimes ANOL Frogs sting others because they cannot get away from a situation or person. They may also have been stung a lot by Scorpions. If your child is a frog, they need to understand there are scorpions in the world. They should particularly stay away from AWOL Scorpions or they are going to get stung. Both Scorpions and Frogs need to learn to find the “Balance of 80” – which is caring 80%. By finding the “Balance of 80” (learning to care 80%) Scorpions and Frogs can make the world a better place.
Sometimes AWOL Scorpions learn to swim (care more) because there’s a benefit to them to care. If you would like a Scorpion to change their behavior help them see the benefit to themselves by caring more.
Cara Zara comment: Notice Toula Gordilla’s use of the word “SOMETIMES”. IF the AWOL Scorpion can be convinced they can personally benefit by caring then they’re still not thinking of others the way a Frog would. AWOL Scorpions are still thinking about themselves which is not “altruism” ~ the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Their caring interactions are selfishly motivated. That’s better than the other alternative and hopefully the damage they have the potential to cause can be lessened. BUT what happens when the motivation isn’t there? When they lose their vested interest in caring? When they don’t have anything to gain by caring? I guess the AWOL destructive scorpion is back and probably with a vengeance. So what’s the lesson of the story: BE CAREFUL AROUND SCORPIONS! Even if they’ve learned how to swim/care because they’ll still sting – they can’t help it. It’s in their nature.