Handling and Treating Psychiatric Emergencies Part 3

A list of instruction and tips to help you handle a psychiatric emergency particularly paranoid, violent or depressed people.

Handling Psychiatric Emergencies

11. A word about DEPRESSIONS . . . Life in this oppressive society is filled with insults, painful experiences, and real losses. Not only is our SELF-ESTEEM smashed time and again. We also have to endure separations from people close to us--friends who leave, who die, who are killed, who go to jail, etc. There's a natural healing over after such a loss, but it takes time.

Don't expect people not to feel these human feelings. Help them integrate their experience and feelings into themselves.

Often, DE-pression is a cover for OP-pression. If there's no "real" loss going on, look for the oppression that's making the other persons feel like shit. Help them understand that it's not "in their heads" but in the real world that such oppression exists.

Help them get in touch with others who share their oppression. Agree with them they're not bad or crazy. Help them get angry if they deserve to get angry.

12. A word about PARANOIA . . . Paranoia, as radical therapist Claude Steiner has said, is a state of "heightened awareness." Paranoid feelings are almost always justified, at least in part. Don't argue with them; try to see where they're true and what that means for them.

This society makes all of us suspicious, mistrustful, manipulated: "paranoid." Help the paranoid person recognize the truth of his paranoia, and then help him to stop being immobilized or destroyed by his awareness.

13. A word about VIOLENT people . . . Violent people are often very frightened, and can be calmed down if you protect them and treat them as people, not monsters. Sometimes, though, people are just out of touch. Don't try to be a hero and endanger yourself and others. Do what you can without being foolhardy. Talk straight to someone who's violent; be reasonable, not threatening.

14. We all need to share experience in handling common psychiatric problems. You and your friends can build a list of halfway houses, decent hospitals, and other therapy resources. If you deal with these problems yourself, you can encourage others to do the same.

15. It's important to remember that the roles of therapist and patient are interchangeable. You may be helping someone today and being helped tomorrow. That's the way it should be. Our common task is developing our skills, so we can help and strengthen one another and the movement for social change.

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