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Important information for relatives

Reference points for relatives of those who have experience with psychoses

(1) Pay attention to yourself (orientation)
Should a psychosis represent something like the recourse to the earlier stages of development which currently (apparently) offer more security, such a deeper emotional conflict will then possibly be avoided temporarily, although it may possibly also be intensified. At the same time, before everything else, the contemporaneity of the different stages of development demanded of those who are affected, and who must undergo a difficult psychological walk on the tightrope, must on one hand demonstrate an understanding for childhood or adolescent needs while, on the other hand, respecting the actual person and their age-appropriate state of development.

(2) React to one another concomitantly (development)
Should a psychosis represent something like the recourse to the earlier stages of development which currently (apparently) offer more security, such a deeper emotional conflict will then possibly be avoided temporarily, although it may possibly also be intensified. At the same time, before everything else, the contemporaneity of the different stages of development demanded of those who are affected, and who must undergo a difficult psychological walk on the tightrope, must on one hand demonstrate an understanding for childhood or adolescent needs while, on the other hand, respecting the actual person and their age-appropriate state of development.

(3) Observe your chances (riddles)
If psychoses lead to riddles, the persons who are involved then have a chance to learn more about themselves personally, as well as about the perceptions of the others and the conditions of their coexistence. This can be either painful or liberating. Psychotic communication is perhaps the only way out. All are demanded in order to complete this perception and to relinquish more about themselves. To determine one's own questions and answers, however, is not easy. Recognising interactions without finding someone to blame is a high art, which can often be successfully achieved first after some interval in time and sometimes also requires therapeutic assistance.  

(4) Persevere (maintain your existence)
If a psychosis should lead to the loss of your own boundaries, this can reflect a great danger. However, this is the case more for the individual who is afflicted themselves, but rarely also for others. In such a case, resistance is demanded. Pressing against the boundaries of others can then be the final reference point. The security of one's own existence can depend on the exchange with others.

(5) Remain unshaken (patience and composure)
If psychoses are associated with panic and fears, these can then be transferred to others more or less "via the pores". This makes it difficult to carry out that which is necessary: Reliable composure and patience, a feeling of spatial security, relaxation without additional stimuli to incite fear, physical closeness without extending over boundaries and physical presence without demands.

(6) Contact (withdrawal as protection)
When a psychosis leads one to interrupt (nearly) all of one's contacts, this can then be understood as being a flight or protection from excessive demands resulting from an excessive relationship(s). Every individual can only find the respective degree of nearness and distance for him/herself and then persistently bring it into balance.

(7) Balance (nearness and distance)
When a psychosis develops or is intensified through human isolation, this is then followed by the necessity for and the difficulty to maintain or (re-) establish such contact. This frequently requires a lengthy struggle. Family members must undergo special demands in such situations. Even apparently mundane contact can then be significant when it is considered to be "self-evident". Even rare contacts can provide support if they are reliable. Everyday contacts, as with neighbours, the postman or to a sales person, etc., have an advantage in that they are "harmless".

(8) Don't forget the children
In the tightrope walk between the necessary nearness and the fear of crossing the line, family members need support so that they don't lose contact to themselves. Naturally, the psychosis should not become the all-encompassing topic nor should it control all. Every family member is entitled to having their needs respected. This is especially the case for (small) children as well. As a member of such a family, you experience deep feelings of uncertainty and are dependent on age-appropriate help in order not to feel guilty and so that you don't become an assistant therapist, but can be allowed, instead, to continue being a child.

(9) Respect the margins of understanding
When an individual suffering from a psychosis makes him/herself unintelligible, he/she thereby also protects him/herself from being understood: He/She examines, the efforts of the others to understand to a certain extent and, at the same time, flees to a region where no one is finally able to follow. Composure and inner tranquillity are required in the struggle for understanding, without demanding comprehensibility, and while respecting the peculiarities and need for protection, but without exerting any pressure on others.

( Source: T. Bock, Basiswissen Psychosen, Psychiatrieverlag, Germany)

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