Course content8 lectures|40 min

Lesson 1: Definitions, Types, and Symptoms of Crisis

Andrzej Silczuk1 min

Lesson 1: Definitions, Types, and Symptoms of Crisis

Let's familiarize ourselves with the so-called "book" definitions of a crisis:

Caplan, 1961People find themselves in a state of crisis when they encounter obstacles in achieving important life goals.

Parad, Caplan, 1971A person encounters obstacles in pursuing important life goals and cannot overcome them through previous problem-solving methods.

Brammer, 1985A crisis is a state of disorganization in which a person faces the thwarting of significant life goals or a profound disruption of their life cycle and coping mechanisms in response to stressful factors. The term "crisis" usually refers to feelings of anxiety, shock, and difficulties experienced in relation to the disruption, rather than the disruption itself.

James, Gilliand, 2008A crisis is the perception or experience of an event or situation as unbearable difficulty, depleting resilience reserves, and disrupting coping mechanisms.

If we were to look for the simplest definition of a psychological crisis, we could say:

A crisis is a temporary disruption of balance due to life events or a situation that a person cannot cope with using their resources and skills.

A crisis is not an illness or a mental disorder. It is a natural response to a difficult situation (usually unexpected and life-threatening or health-threatening events). It is important to emphasize that a crisis is a temporary and passing state, lasting a maximum of 6-8 weeks.

There are several types of crises:

  • Situational crises: unexpected and often traumatic events, such as accidents, experiences of violence, the death of a loved one, job loss.
  • Developmental crises.
  • Existential crises: often referred to as the "midlife crisis" or "middle age crisis."
  • Environmental crises: these crises often affect a group of people and usually result from natural phenomena, such as floods, fires, hurricanes.

What are the symptoms of a crisis?

  • Cognitive (disturbances in perception and thinking).
  • Emotional and motivational (depression, resignation, and self-deprecation).
  • Behavioral (difficulty in controlling one's own behavior, such as aggressive and self-destructive actions).
  • Physiological (somatic symptoms, such as headaches).
  • Change in external appearance.

Andrzej Silczuk

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