Type Two Conflict: “Difficult Times”
The second type of conflict stems from loss. These conflicts are the result of the behavior caused by someone who has, for example, lost work, a significant other, their place in their community or when they become confused and frightened due to a conflict, a war or natural disaster. These people react to their new, terrifying situation by lashing out so that these types of conflict are much more the result of a person’s state, rather than a specific trait. (The “Trauma” section includes reference to an article that discusses how in traumatized individuals states can be transformed into traits.) Reactive stress is a term used to describe some individuals’ extreme behavior in these really heart breaking situations.
There is a revolution in psychology as therapies and treatment for these individuals is becoming central to our work. This is one of the fastest growing areas of research in all of science. These therapies are being included in hospitals, clinics, schools and communities everywhere and counselors are getting multiple trainings in applying these therapies. I don’t exaggerate when I say that they may be the greatest force for good in our country today.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say I lived through this horror. I can take the next step that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Often Type Two conflicts are caused by poverty. People without social support and coping mechanisms are apt to lash out, often at family members, which can result in domestic violence and child abuse and alcohol or drug abuse.
Natural disasters that destroy neighborhoods and livelihoods virtually always cause an increase in this type of behavior which decreases when individuals reestablish themselves. The 1984 movie Country depicts conflicts of this type.
Type Two conflict occurs in families where there are special needs children. These children have specific behavioral disorders such as ADHD (attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder.) If these disorders are severe and untreated they can result in the children being so uncontrollable that they enrage parents who can then become susceptible to “flying off the handle” and hitting their children, almost uncontrollably.
There are, of course, many other stressful situations that create conflict. One that we are hearing about most frequently are those related to veterans and the explosion of cases of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) . https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/adult-sr/ptsd-checklist.asp Tim O’Brien’s extraordinary book In the Lake of the Woods is an exquisite book about PTSD and provides useful information as well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Lake_of_the_Woods
Two Type conflicts can be resolved by helping the individual develop coping mechanisms which can be done by:
- Reassuring the person(s)
- helping them to break the problem into small parts each of which can be dealt with one at a time.
- providing constructive support, i.e., information that helps address their problem and realistic suggestions that can be acted on promptly so that they can remain a part of their community.
Conflicts that represent a change in a person’s behavior when they are under the stress of loss, and discontinues when the individual has appropriate support services and/or coping mechanisms so that they re-establish themselves, are what I am calling Type Two conflicts.