I find the idea that one person can ‘fix’ another person implausible at best. There’s a lot wrong with it as a concept. To want to fix someone, you have to first perceive them as broken, and unable to fix themselves. There are exceptions, particularly for medics fixing broken bodies and others acting to save the lives of people who have little or no scope for agency. But mostly, it’s a really bad idea.
Fixing people can often be a cover for taking power and agency away from them. Casting yourself in the saviour role can make you feel powerful, at the expense of making the other person feel incompetent, useless or really annoyed. Telling people you are fixing them and doing things for their own good can be controlling and manipulative, undermining a person’s feelings that they can make good judgements for themselves, and limiting or removing their choices.
When we set out to fix someone else, we’re doing that on our own terms. It starts with our assessment of their brokenness – a case in point would be the way some neurotypical people want to ‘cure’ autistic people rather than recognising that as valid difference. What we fix someone into is also about our agenda not their needs – fixing autistic people to help them pass as neurotypical people does not do autistic people any good and can cause considerable harm. The expressed intention to fix someone is all too often a cover for the desire to make them more like us. Torturing queer folk with conversion therapy is an example.
Helping people is an entirely different issue. Being genuinely helpful means supporting, empowering and uplifting others. We might do that by sharing knowledge, skills, stories and ideas. We might talk about what worked for us. We might offer to step up in any way the person being helped would find useful. We centre them and follow their lead, we do not try and make them do the things we think would help.
When someone is growing, learning, healing or otherwise overcoming their problems, it is vital they have ownership of that process. If we don’t feel we own our processes, then they won’t really embed, for a start. We won’t be able to trust the progress we have made, and we may feel problematically dependent on the person who did this for us. If we’re made to feel like our achievements belong to someone who ‘helped’ us then we’re in a vulnerable and unhealthy sort of situation.
We’re all flawed, messy and complicated. We all have the scope to help and support each other in many different ways. No one needs fixing. We just need space and opportunity to take care of ourselves.