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Chapter

PSYC*3690 Article 26.pdf

4 Pages
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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3690
Professor
Benjamin Gottlieb

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Article #: 26 Title: Reactions to Victims of Life Crises: Support Attempts That Fail - in most discussions of social support, it is generally assumed that support attempts made by the provider will be valued and appreciated by the receiver - there is growing awareness that in many cases, othersʼ well-intentioned efforts to provide support may be regarded as unhelpful by the recipient, may result in negative consequences, or both - other frequently tried to support by making statements like “I know exactly how you feel,” or “it was Godʼs will” - these were commonly judged as unhelpful - this paper will focus on 3 basic reasons why people may respond to victims of life crises in ways that are unsupportive: 1. for many reasons, people appear to hold negative feelings about others who are suffering or distressed - the more unfortunate the victimʼs plight or the more distress they show, the more threatened others may become - individuals in greatest need of social support may be the least likely to get it 2. Most people have relatively little experience dealing with others who are in the throes of life crisis - their anxiety may be heightened by the awareness that the victim is very vulnerable 3. Others appear to hold a number of misconceptions about how people should react to undesirable life events Feelings Elicited by Victims of Life Crisis - people often hold negative feelings about others who are suffering, unhappy or in need of help - this shatters our own illusions of invulnerability, or evokes strong feelings of hopelessness - elicit fears and anxieties about what lies ahead, and whether the support provider will be able to handle the increased demands that may be placed on them - events like this force us to realize that these negative outcomes can happen to anyone at any time - we are motivated to believe that the world is a just place where “people get what they deserve and deserve what they get” - in order to reduce distress, we will look for weaknesses in the victimʼs behaviour to explain the incident - contact with victims of life crisis may evoke strong feelings of helplessness - feeling that there is little that they can say or do to alleviate the victimʼs pain or improve his or her situation - victimization amy significantly and permanently disrupt the relationship with the victim as their as their own lives - spouse or family members Uncertainties about Appropriate Behaviour - most potential supporters may experience intense anxiety about the prospect of interacting with a person who has experienced a life crisis - they may feel confused and uncertain about how to behave or what to say, and may have little past experience to serve as a guide tot hem in this difficult situation - victim is extremely vulnerable, and potential support givers worry that inappropriate behaviours may intensity the victimʼs distress - in a study, the respondents fears are justified as they demonstrated a limited understanding of the true concerns of the person experiencing the crisis - even when support providers are knowledgeable about the victimʼs concerns, their anxiety may impede empathetic responses - anxiety may also enhance the likelihood of support attempts that are automatic or ritualized e.g. “I know how you feel,” “things will get better soon” - all of these 3 factors (negative feelings about victimization, anxieties about providing effective support, and misconceptions about how victims will react) are much more likely to predominate when the consequences of the victimization are more serious - this suggests that just at those times in life when we are particularly in need to effective support, we may be least likely to get it Otherʼs Misconceptions About the Coping Process - most people seem to assume that when a life crisis occurs, an individual will initially experience distress as her or she attempts to cope with the crisis - however, victimʼs of life crisis are expected to “pull themselves together” rather quickly - a second misconception that seems to be quite prevalent is that ti is inappropriate or unhelpful for victims of life crisis to discuss their feelings about what has happened Behaviour of Others Toward Victims of Life Crises - peopleʼs feelings of vulnerability and helplessness, their uncertainty about how to behave, their misconceptions about how victims should react, may strongly influence the nature of support attempts directed toward those who have experienced life crisis - because of these feelings and beliefs, individuals engage in 3 types of behaviours that are intended to be supportive but that are often detrimental: (1) they discourage open expression or discussion of feelings about victimization, (2) they encourage recover or mov
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