Crisis in historical context 

Lindemann and Caplan laid the basic understanding starting in 1948 with the “Wellesley” project, which is named after a small suburb of Boston in which they built a community health center(More detailed in Kunz et al. 2009). Lindeman(1985) developed reflections on the causes of mental illness and crises. Among other things, he is one of them. Learn about our cpi instructor training at our cpi instructor training page.

  • drastic changes in interpersonal relationships 
  • Unmanaged transitions from one life situation to another against the background of a vulnerable personality 
  • traumatic experiences 
  • lack of resources, so that the burdens can no longer be absorbed. 

Caplan has further developed these theoretical explanations in the direction of a crisis concept combined with basic concepts of intervention(Caplan and Grunebaum 1977). 

4.2 Crisis in the context of the coping paradigm 

Many crisis researchers refer to the transactional stress coping model of Lazarus and Folkman(1984) Referenced, e.g. by Sonneck(2000). Coping with stress or strain is then very much dependent on the subjective assessment of the threat and one’s own coping resources. According to this, coping is a process that constantly influences one another in assessment and action(Broda 1990). 

Coping is therefore dependent on internal and external resources that a person has at their disposal, such as a sense of coherence, social support and also professional help. A lack of resources increases the risk that coping efforts will not lead to the desired result. 

4.3 Critical Life Events 

Another attempt at classification and theorization starts from the concept of “critical life events”(Filip 1997). According to Filipp, critical life events or life experiences are viewed by the person as cuts, transitions or caesuras in the course of life and seen as heavy burdens that are differentiated from other factors such as stress, trauma, chronic burdens and everyday adversities. 

Characteristics of critical life events are: 

  • the overwhelming amount of readjustment or readjustment 
  • unpredictability of the event 
  • efficiency 
  • self-esteem threat 
  • Self-consistency threat to core self-beliefs 
  • Loss of orientation (threat to basic belief systems) 
  • Target blockade, ie important targets seem or are threatened 
  • retraumatization. 

To the extent that these characteristics are present, the risk of a crisis increases. 

4.4 Further explanations 

The “concept of difficult life situations” emphasizes that chronic psychosocial stress or the inadequate handling of it causes the occurrence of crises. Chronic stress is caused by factors such as the presence of a parent with a mental illness, instability in a partnership combined with chronic conflicts, material emergencies, etc.(Kunz et al. 2009, p. 184 f.). 

The “two-factor model of coping with developmental problems” distinguishes between assimilating and accommodating coping processes. Under assimilative coping processes one understands active efforts to change the actual situation: the goal is more or less maintained while in accommodating coping processes the goals are adjusted. For example, someone lowers their aspiration level or replaces previous goals with others(More detailed in Dross 2001, p. 15). If this does not succeed, events cannot be adequately managed and there is the possibility of a crisis. 

The concept of “self-esteem” refers back to Ulich(1985), who identifies self-doubt as a key feature of crisis, based on the loss or lack of positive self-evaluations. Critical statements, devaluations (including one’s own), failures, the absence of expected successes, etc. can have a negative impact on self-esteem. 

The resource concept also plays an important role in the intervention ideas as an important part of the stress concept. Crises are associated with an actual or perceived loss of essential resources. A spiral of losses can develop in which the loss of a resource encourages further losses(Hobfoll 1989).