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Chapter 2 – The Conflict State


To the inexperienced observer,
“crisis” and “the individual in crisis” represent nearly equivalent
notions.  We say that an individual is
“suicidal.”  Why?  Because he is depressed.  We say that an individual is nervous and
shaking.  Why?  Because he is upset.  When we take the next step and ask why the
individual is depressed or upset, the assumption is that the answer will point
to there being something wrong with the individual or with his situation.  “You are just being silly.”… “If I were you,
I would get out of that situation and not put up with it anymore.”… “If you
would just straighten up and deal with it, things would be better.”… “You can’t
blame yourself.  It’s not your
fault.  If they didn’t act the way they
do, things would be okay.”  By the
inexperienced observer, then, the ‘crisis’ is interpreted to be something that
is either in the individual or in the situation.


As we examine the conflict state in
this chapter and focus more specifically on the crisis state in Chapter 3, we
will find that the “crisis” is neither within the individual nor within the
situation.  The crisis lies in how you
are or are not getting along within your situation.


Frequently there is conflict
between the individual and his world. 
This situational conflict is an everyday thing.  Life is full of its hassles, difficulties,
and annoyances.  Sometimes, though, the
conflict becomes intensified to such an extent that we can accurately think of
it as “a crisis state.”  Understanding
the crisis state and helping the people who are caught up in it is our
objective.  First, however, we want to
carefully examine and come to understand the conflict state from which crises
develop.  Figure 1 illustrates conflict
in terms of the individual, the situation, and the interaction between the
two.  A careful look at each of these
three perspectives is, then, where we will start to develop an understanding of
and a feeling for the social interaction approach to crisis intervention.


























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