What is "Mental Illness?"
(Please note that in order to fully understand the states of being I describe here, one need have read my article, "Through Julie's Eyes, A Pictorial Journey Through How Human Beings Learn to Be Conscious of Themselves and of Each Other," which can be found on the Healing Relationships menu page.)
For most people, saying someone is "mentally ill" is like saying the person is crazy and needs serious help. Yet most of us act "crazy" at times, such as in those times wherein we repeatedly fight with others and say and do crazy things, sometimes the same crazy things over and over. Despite this craziness though, no one seriously accuses us of being "mentally ill" except in anger.
So what do you call how we behave in these moments, and what does it mean that we repeatedly do these things, things which fly in the face of reason? Does it mean we all have some form of mental illness? Or are these "crazy behaviors" simply some form of "dysfunction" as is commonly believed? And what constitutes real mental illness? Paranoia? Delusions? Hospitalizations and suicide attempts?
The problem here is, we have been using symptoms to define mental illness; if someone looks crazy, the person is crazy. Unfortunately, this way of defining mental illness is filled with error, starting with the idea that trying to make logical sense of mentally ill peoples' behaviors is like being crazy yourself. Worse yet, this infers the definition of "mental health" is "being symptom free"; hardly an accurate or loving way to define "mental health."
Is there a better way to define mental illness? Let me preface what I am about to offer with a few thoughts about injuries in general, my modus operandi if you will.
To begin with, all symptoms, regardless of origin, are the result of what I call, "BLocks"; painful injuries to our abilities to be conscious. More specifically, the main thing to know about witnessing the beauty in something or someone.
Why define injury this way? Because defining "injury" as a BLocked ability to see the beauty in something or someone eliminates the need to make sense out of these crazy behaviors. It also relieves us of the need to come up with what are in fact, imaginary reasons; the so called "unconscious motives" if you will; which supposedly explain why crazy people do what they do.
What about the tens of thousands of pages of theory which attempt to explain why these insane behaviors happen? The truth is, despite what the many schools of therapy tell us, and despite their genuinely loving motives, the majority of these theories fail in that they attempt to explain mental illness by explaining the reasons behind it.
In truth, there really are no "reasons" behind mentally ill peoples' behaviors. So what are these supposed explanations for our mental illnesses? In a way, all they represent are a kind of "reverse engineering." By this, I mean they are attempts to create an after-the-fact logic which shows cause and effect for mental illness.
The flaw? These people assume and believe there is some underlying reason or logic beneath mentally ill behaviors. I would also guess they try to discern this logic by imagining what they would have had to have been thinking and feeling in order to have behaved in these ways. Or, in lieu of this, they create what they believe to be accurate characterizations for what each type of mentally ill person is like inside; how they think, and what they feel.
To me, these imaginings are as crazy as the behaviors they attempt to explain. More important, the real test is, can these after the fact explanations heal our injuries?
In truth, not at all. Why? Because these explanation fail to address the true nature of our injuries, the structure underlying mental illness. What is this true nature, and how does one make it visible?
Logically, in order to find it, you would have to ask people to look for the reasons behind what they do. Right away, we have a big problem. We again begin with the above assumption; that there is an underlying logic beneath mentally ill behaviors.
Suppose we could ask though, and have it be reasonably accurate, no pun intended. Where would you ask people to look?
Obviously, you would have to have them look in the instant right before they behave insanely, the place where the actual "reason" would exist.
And if you were to be able to get them to consciously and honestly look there, what would you find? You would see that there can be no reasoning behind what they do. Why? Because there is no instant in between their urges and their behaviors, no moment in which they decide to do what they do.
What is there? A "splice" between the present and the past; a "BLock" to experiencing the present if you will. And what do we do when our ability to stay in the present is BLocked? We use whatever preexisting scripts we have inside us, whatever seems to match what we are experiencing in the present.
Do we choose which of these scripts we use? Of course not, as again, there in no "moment of choice."
Where do these predefined scripts come from then? They come from the events in which we get wounded in the first place. This, of course, is common knowledge. What is not common knowledge, though, is what I just said; that using these scripts never involves choice but rather these scripts simply run automatically in us whenever we mistake the present for the past.
So what would you see if you could splice these crazy behaviors back to the original events from which they derive? You would immediately see that at one time, these seemingly crazy responses were perfectly logical response and served us well, but only in the original events.
Now, taking these concepts one step further, since all of us act crazy ("unreasonably") at times, must we all have some form of mental illness? Yes, although please know, regardless of the extent to which we have these mental illnesses, we are not broken. Rather, we are injured. And we do not need fixing. We need help.
And what about the differences between what we have and what the seriously ill have? Simply the degree to which we act unreasonably rather than that "we are or we aren't mentally ill." More important, by knowing this, we begin to merge the seriously mentally ill back into our sense of humanity, rather than separating them out into a separate group.
How about the origin of this mental illness. Where does this mentally ill part of our natures come from? It stems from an inner conflict created by the combination of two experiences:  the inability to identify, or make sense out of, the original injury and  the normal and intense human drive to make sense out of whatever we experience as painful. This conflict, which is a part of all of our natures, is, in fact, what drives us all to fabricate things like the idea of "unconscious motives," this despite the fact that there clearly are no moments in which we decide to behave irrationally. One minute we are controlling ourselves, using will and reason, and result from sudden impulses, not from decisions based on reasons.
What underlies these impulses? Two things;  the inability to see the difference between the present and the past, which results in a BLocked ability to see the beauty in something or in someone in the present; in other words, reliving a previous injury in the present, and  the conflict which results from this and our inability to believe we are injured. This conflict, in fact; the way we struggle internally to believe our mentally ill behaviors are not mentally ill behaviors; is the main reason we suffer in these situations. It is also why we exert so much effort trying to come up with "reasons" for why we suffer.
As for this second part; the reasons we fabricate to explain why we and others do the crazy things we do; in essence, the only thing we are doing here is assigning "blame" for our suffering, and for the suffering we inflict on others, on ourselves, and on others. More over, since these blaming "reasons" are based on the assumption that we choose to do these crazy behaviors, and since this assumption is blatantly false, this makes much of the theory underlying formal therapies simply elaborately constructed forms of blame.
How about the actual injuries themselves? What makes us mistake the present for the past? Two things. One, that the essence of all human injury is that we are compelled to relive the past, and two, that the transitions we experience between the present and these past experiences are so instantaneous that they cause us to go into shock, thus preventing us from seeing these transitions happen. In lieu of seeing these transitions happen, then, and because we suffer when we can't make sense out of what we do, we then make enormous efforts to fabricate meanings, logical constructs to explain why we behave at first sanely, then suddenly insanely.
This, then, is what makes these behaviors appear insane; these invisible transitions. In effect, experiencing these transitions is like experiencing badly spliced movie scenes wherein two dissimilar scenes have been spliced together. And in fact, this is exactly what is behind all mental illnesses; bad splices between the present and our pasts.
The important thing to see here is, these seemingly crazy responses, at one time, were actually sane responses to painful life events. The problem is, these once sane responses do not sanely fit the present. More over, because the crazy ways we behave in these situations are derived from the scripts present in the original wounding scenes and not from the present, and because we automatically respond to these scripts in the present whenever we confuse a present day event with an originally painful past event, whenever people experience one of these scripts, they will appear to be crazy, in that their present behavior will be grossly out of sync with their present life events.
This idea, that crazy behaviors were once sane ("reasonable") responses to crazy situations, is very important. We can use it to make sense of our mental illnesses. More so, we can also use it to see inside these injuries and to know where to begin the healing process. How? By using this idea, that these crazy behaviors were once sane ("reasonable") responses to crazy situations, to guide us to the stages on which these crazy behaviors were once sane.
What will we find? We will find very specific and helpful clues, clues which can help us to make sense of mental illness and which can then be used to guide the healing process. Equally important, though, once found, we can use this information to alleviate some of the suffering wounded people normally experience. How? By using it to see the false nature of our "blaming explanations" for mental illness, the fake logic we use to explain why people act crazy, the false concepts we label our "unconscious reasons."
In truth then, because the word "reason" implies "choice," and because there are no choices let alone "reasons" behind peoples' craziness, at least none that logically account for the continuous sequence of events we witness in the present, when people act crazy, they do so because they have robotically responded to a predefined script rather than from having reasoned out "choices." Further, it is only by using this knowledge that healing can become a more loving, nonjudgmental, and gentle process.
Here, then, is the essential nature of most of our suffering and what is behind our seemingly crazy behaviors. We all have BLocks, painful splices which join the present with the past. More important, seen in this more accurate light, crazy behaviors actually do have reasons and logic beneath them and so, are not "dysfunctional" at all but rather, they function perfectly. Used in the way intended, they allow us to find the very clues we need to heal our wounds.
How do we do this? We do this by looking for the times wherein these crazy behaviors were logical, remembering that this logic becomes visible only when you break these seemingly crazy events into the two parts which make them up; the sane first part and the seemingly insane second part. This means while the reasons behind the first part will always appear sane, the reasons behind the second part back into the original wounding scenes.
Herein lies the nature of injury and the road to healing.
Classifying Mental Illness
With these thoughts in mind, let me now suggest a better way to classify mental illness, one which does not rely on making sense out of insanity.
First, all mental illnesses come in two sizes, "character sized" mental illnesses and "event sized" mental illnesses. What is the difference?
Character sized mental illnesses are like cellophane's which color a person's whole character. Thus, a character sized mental illness affects everything the person thinks, feels, says, and does.
Event sized mental illnesses, on the other hand, color only specific portions of a persons life experiences, things like "the experience of reading in front of people" or "the experience of asking an older woman for help."
Why the difference in scope? People with character sized mental illnesses endure very severe conditions for an extended period sometime within about the first four years of life. In effect, they get so profoundly wounded by these conditions that they never stop experiencing them, regardless of what is going on in the present. For their whole lives then, they live as if the original wounding conditions never end.
People with event sized mental illnesses have experienced something quite different though, in that their injuries are the result of specific, individual events. This means these injuries color peoples' experiences only within very specific life circumstances and thus, affect these people much less severely. More over, the events from which they originate can have incurred at any point during peoples' lives, although most do occur early in peoples' childhood's.
What is important to see here is, the differences between the scopes of these two types of injury derive from markedly different life experiences, in that people with character sized mental illnesses endure very severe conditions for an extended period sometime within about the first four years of life, whereas people with event sized mental illnesses have experienced specific, individual events at any time during their lives.
Can an event sized mental illness become a character sized mental illness? Here the answer contradicts logic and much of what people believe in that, no, only character sized mental illnesses derive from cumulative suffering.
What then is the nature of event sized mental illnesses? Please know, a comprehensive answer is far beyond the scope of this article. However, to briefly describe the cause, people who have event sized mental illnesses have each experienced what I call, the "wounding script." By this, I mean, each event sized mental illness has been the result of the person having experienced a sequence from hyperawareness to shock, wherein the transition between the two is sudden and startling.
What does this sequence do? In essence, it hypnotically bonds the person's last sensory experiences, what the person experiences right before being startled, to the pain of the whole experience. Worse yet, because the person has literally been hypnotized by the painful event, and because the instant of wounding comes so suddenly, this event literally functions as the mechanism for planting a post hypnotic suggestion. What suggestion? That whenever the person later experiences what was sensed in that last instant just before the startling moment, the person will be returned in time to that exact experience, not from the beginning, but instantly and robotically to that exact moment.
So what if the person experiences this type of event many times. Why wouldn't this make the wound worse? In order to conceptualize this idea, I need you to visualize a four paned window, the common everyday type from which we often look out.
Imagine now that you are standing in a living room four feet from this window. Now imagine I walk over and tape a black piece of paper one foot in diameter smack in the center of this window.
How much of your view would it "block?"
OK. Now imagine I come and tape a second, similar sized piece of black paper right over the first one. Now how much of your view would be "blocked?"
Now I do it again. I tape a third piece of paper over the first two and again, I ask you, how much of your view is "blocked?" And on and on.
My point it this. Event sized mental illnesses are like these black pieces of paper. Each illness is like a group of similar sized pieces of black paper taped onto one of our "inner windows," although here, these papers BLock our ability to see things consciously. More so, each injury also BLocks our ability to see things consciously in such a way as to prevent us from seeing any beauty which is there.
Now add to this metaphor the idea that before I taped these papers to the window, I told you to memorize what you saw as best as you could. Now after taping those papers in place, I ask you to tell me what was behind the paper; what was being hidden from view.
At first, you tell me what is pretty much a snapshot of what you saw and memorized. Not too bad if I were to stop now. But what if I continued to ask for days and weeks and months and years. And what if you could not move your position nor take the paper down?
This experience is pretty close to what event sized mental illnesses do to us. They literally BLock some very specific part of our ability to see out into the world. They also lock us into the last view we saw, causing us to repeatedly respond to events in the present as if they are exactly the same as the last similar event we witnessed.
This is what makes us respond to BLocks as if we have no choices, thus, making the idea that we use reason to decide our behaviors false. We experience BLocks as the same life event over and over. Thus, even when we develop new strategies with which to deal with them, we will pretty much keep suffering from the same painful outcomes as we will not have healed the injury itself; the BLocked ability to consciously see and experience life.
One more thing to keep in mind here is that all people have event sized mental illnesses. In effect, we all have experienced these moments of "wounded learning" and so, have internalized these painful, scripted responses to specific life events. Of course, each of us has very different BLocks in that no one ever experiences the exact same thing even if they witness the very same event and even if our symptoms look the same.
Here, to see this, try to imagine I have had you go through the paper on the window thing and then have asked you to go out of the room and then back to the "same" spot. Of course, you could not, although you might come close. This would mean the BLocked part of your view would be slightly different. More important, though, imagine I tried to take you through this experience along with someone else, some you love and are very close to. In this case, obviously, you and the other person could not ever experience the same BLock as you could never stand in the same "shoes" so to speak.
What is important here is to see the individual nature of our BLocks and how they will never exactly the same as the BLocks of others. More so, since the odds are astronomically against that two people will ever be experiencing the exact same thing in the same moment, in lieu of recognizing the true nature of these injuries, even the best of psychology and self help manuals will fall painfully short of being able to help us to make sense of our injuries. Fortunately, with this knowledge, we can begin to make up for these shortcomings.
As for the differences I have been discussing, those between character sized mental illnesses and event sized mental illnesses, the primary differences are in scope and in nature. As far as scope, character sized mental illnesses affect the whole person's experience of everything they think, feel, say, and do, while event sized mental illnesses affect the whole person's experience of specific life events only. And as far as nature, character sized mental illnesses stem from cumulative suffering experienced early in childhood, while event sized mental illnesses stem from event based suffering most do occur in childhood.
As for what is the same about these two mental illnesses, both are the result of internal programming which causes us to involuntarily and without choice, splice a not necessarily painful present event to a definitely painful past event. Also, because we experience these splices so suddenly, each time we experience them, we go into shock, thus missing the essential nature of what just happened.
What is also the same is how we respond to these illnesses. We respond to both with pre-scripted responses any time we mistake the present for the past. These pre-scripted responses were once sane responses to crazy situations. Even so, because the nature of these splices has not been recognized, we have tried to make sense out of the whole sequence of events, from the sane first part to the seemingly insane second part, never realizing that the "bad" splice is what makes the responses seem crazy.
Finally, what about how many of us have character sized mental illnesses? Do we all have these injuries as well? The answer begins with remembering what has been commonly believed about mental illness.
What has been assumed is that only a very few people have character sized mental illnesses, only those with a lot of disturbing symptoms, those who consistently act crazy. This is simply not true. Quite a few people, perhaps as many as seventy to ninety percent of us, have some form of character sized mental illness. How can this be?
Before explaining this in depth, allow me to further define these categories, beginning with breaking character sized mental illnesses into three sub categories; the most severe which I will continue to call character sized mental illnesses, the second, character sized neuroses, and the third, character sized ambivalence. What are the differences?
Defining My Terms
Let me begin by briefly defining a few of my terms: "character," "suffering," "love," "consciousness," "unconsciousness," etc.
Character: is "a sustained and significant bias which comes into play when people experience suffering in relationship to others." Thus, any time a person responds to another from what seems like a script, you are seeing the person's character. And the rest of the time? The rest of the time, people respond to relationships consciously, meaning, they respond spontaneously and with varying degrees of love and creativity. Thus, nothing is predefined and so, is not "character."
Suffering: is simply "what happens to people when what they are experiencing exceeds what they can contain consciously." Defining suffering this way is helpful in that it avoids biases toward specific emotional states, such as those against sadness or anger and those favoring love and happiness. How can all these experiences at times generate "suffering?" To know, picture a time when you felt "so happy you cried" or "so in love it hurt."
Love: is "seeing the beauty in anything or anyone." Further, every time we experience a new love, we "fall in love," whether this be with a baby, a lover, or a beautiful new sports car. Love is love. What differs is how you relate to what you love, and obviously, relating to a person is quite different from relating to naturally beautiful scenes or to great art. Even so, beneath these differences, the essence is the same: seeing the beauty in anything or anyone.
Consciousness: is "the experience of living in the picture" where the "picture" is the one displayed on the screen of your inner life. Thus, what you can experience as a living picture is what you are conscious of, and what you can not picture is BLocked. Further, the essence of the experience of consciousness is a clear and sustained ability to enjoy what you picture, and this enjoyment comes from the experience of being able to easily find and assign meanings to what you are seeing.
Unconsciousness: is "the experience of living in the lack of a picture." What is the "lack of a picture?" It is the any state in which one's inner life is chaotic, meaning, any state wherein a person experiences either "flooding" or a "blank page." Here, the essence of both these experiences is a clear and sustained inability to make sense out of what is being experienced, making these experiences feel "chaotic."
Chaos: is "any life event wherein a person experiences a distinct lack of ability to assign meaning to what is being experienced, either because there is too much or too little inner information."
Flooding: is "the chaotic experience of living in the profound presence of too many, rapidly changing, inner pictures," where the essence of this experience is a general but vague mental awareness of what one is experiencing combined with a distinct inability to bring into focus any individual inner picture. Here, the chaotic element is that the person is unable to hold any single picture long enough to clearly make sense out of it. In other words, the person experiences the strong presence of lack of meaning, an intense and often painful kind of confusion.
A Blank Page: is "the chaotic experience of living in the profound absence of an inner picture," where the essence of this experience is a general but vague mental awareness that one is not experiencing one's life; that one is "blank"; combined with a distinct inability to make sense out of this blankness. Here, the chaotic element is that the person is unable to picture anything at all. Thus, the person has no inner picture to make sense out, which often then leads to the conclusion, there must be nothing of importance there.
Finally, let me now define the three sub categories of mental illness I previously mentioned:
 character sized mental illness: is "a sustained and significant inability to compassionately experience the needs of others"; in other words, a condition wherein a person experiences a profound inability to picture the needs of others.
 character sized neurosis: is "a sustained and significant inability to compassionately experience the needs of the self"; in other words, a condition wherein a person experiences a profound inability to picture the needs of the self.
 character sized ambivalence; early and late: is "a sustained and significant inability to compassionately experience alternately the needs of others and the needs of the self"; in other words, a condition wherein a person alternately experiences a profound inability to picture the needs of others and a profound inability to picture the needs of the self. This could also be described as the profound inability to experience the needs of an "us."
As for the the words "early" and "late," they identify which experience is the default first experience, with the word "early" meaning the person first experiences a profound inability to picture the needs of others and the word "late" meaning the person first experiences a profound inability to picture the needs of the self.
Now let me further describe these three character sized mental illnesses, starting with the one I call, character sized mental illness. Again, please note that in order to fully understand these states, one need have read my article, "Through Julie's Eyes, A Pictorial Journey Through How Human Beings Learn to Be Conscious of Themselves and of Each Other," which can be found on the Healing Relationships menu page.
Character Sized "Mental Illness"
Traditionally, this type of mental illness is called narcissism. However, like all mental health diagnoses, the term narcissism is a cold and impersonal way to describe a state in which someone experiences total aloneness and perpetual infancy. Thus, a more accurate and caring way to define this condition would be to say that it is a condition wherein the person fails to develop beyond the relationship views of the first year of life; me through my eyes.
What purpose did this state originally serve at the time, in effect, what is the logic behind it?
Basically, the logic is simple. Infants in their first year of life are pretty much helpless. More important, because they are helpless, when they have needs, they must be able to ask for their needs with no reservations whatsoever.
During a baby's first year of life, this condition is met, in that having no awareness of the "other" means they will have no guilt when asking for and even demanding their needs be met.
So do they in fact love their care givers? Yes, in an infantile way. But this love is pretty much limited to the loving joy babies display when they see their care givers arrive. They love being cared for and seeing the care giver brings them joy.
This love in fact is what often makes it so difficult to identify people traditional labeled with things like "dependent personality disorder" and "narcissistic personality disorder." They do, at times, look at others with love. So, in fact, do all people with character sized mental illnesses.
If there is love present at times, then how then can this condition be identified? This condition is most readily identified by witnessing how these people respond in close relationships in situations wherein both people are suffering. Here, people with a character sized mental illness will experience only one set of needs; their own.
Thus, if the other asks for something like support or care when the ill person is suffering, the ill person will get angry or confused. If the other then continues to ask for his or her needs, the ill person may say things like, "all you ever think of is yourself." Often, these insults come after the other has been there for the ill person to a fault. Even so, since character sized mental ill people experience only one set of needs; their own; they will respond to the other's requests for support as if the other is being totally selfish and demanding.
People with this type of illness often fall in love with or are the boss to people with character sized neuroses. Further, though these relationships are often severely conflicted, they often remain intact for long periods of time.
Finally, remember, healing these injuries, if at all possible, begins with literally seeing the ill person as a baby who is still trying to get his or her needs met rather than simply as a self centered and demanding adult. Herein lies the route to compassion and the stage for healing. More over, exploring in detail which needs they are demanding will offer clues which can be used to guide the healing process.
Now let me describe the second category of character sized mental illness, "character sized neuroses."
Character Sized "Neurosis"
Traditionally, mental illnesses of this type are called neuroses. However, like all mental health diagnoses, the term neuroses is a cold and impersonal way to describe a state in which people not only experience total aloneness but also no sense of their own suffering. In effect, they see suffering only through the others eyes. More important, because these people have no sense of their own suffering, they deny it even exists. Thus, a more accurate and caring way to define this condition would be to say that it is a condition wherein the person fails to develop beyond the relationship views of the second year of life; me through your eyes.
What logic underlies this condition? The idea that the baby must now learn to include hearing the word "no" in its requests. In fact, the struggle to incorporate the possibility that some outside force may prevent them from receiving what they want is so hard for babies that they often focus much of their energies during the second year of life on the possibility of hearing a "no." This means they focus great amount of attentions on their care givers' conditions, trying to sense the best times to ask for their needs and knowing, if their care givers are not happy or well, they will probably hear a "no."
Do they sense the care givers' needs? Not in the genuinely mature sense of the word "love." Certainly, these needs matter to them. Mostly, though, these needs matter only in so far as how their care givers happiness will affect getting their needs met and in fact babies do not see the other as having separate needs generally until sometime after age four.
Here, the most common term used to identify this condition is "codependency"; the experience of being happy if the other is happy. Equally important is the compulsion to care for the other if the other is suffering, even to the detriment of the self. Thus, like character sized mental illness, this condition is most visible in relationships when both people are suffering.
Here, again, people with character sized neuroses will experience only one set of needs, this time, only the others. Thus, if the other asks for something like support or care, the ill person will drop everything and focus entirely on the other, even to their detriment. If the other then continues to ask for his or her needs, the ill person may say things like, I'm so glad you trust me enough to keep asking. Often, these statements come after the ill person has been giving to the other person to a fault. Even so, since people with character sized neuroses experience only one set of needs; the others; they will often respond to the others requests as if the other is being totally selfless and appropriate.
People with this type of mental illness often fall in love with or work for character sized mentally ill people. These relationships, though often severely conflicted, can remain intact for long periods of time.
Now let me describe the third category of character sized mental illness, "character sized ambivalence."
Character Sized "Ambivalence: Early and Late"
Traditionally, mental illnesses of this type are simply called dysfunction. However, like all mental health diagnoses, the term dysfunction is a cold and impersonal way to describe a state wherein people not only experience total aloneness but also alternate between having no sense of the others suffering and no sense of their own, on and on, back and forth. In effect, they alternate between seeing the suffering only through their own eyes and only through the others. More important, they also alternate between having no sense of the others suffering and no sense of their own, often denying this suffering even exists. Thus, a more accurate and caring way to define this condition would be to say that it is a condition wherein the person fails to develop beyond the relationship views of the second through fourth years of life, alternating between the "me through my eyes" view and the "me through your eyes" view.
What logic underlies this condition? Basically, that the person, at the time, was learning to integrate the two previous states; asking for its needs without guilt, and knowing someone other than itself can prevent them from receiving those needs. Here, anger is often the ill person's main state of being, anger and disappointment.
Remember, too, that adults who live in this state will be just as confused as the two or three year olds they resemble. Why? Because they literally are just as confused as to how to get their needs met.
Thus, like the two previous character sized mental illnesses, this condition is most visible in relationships when both people are suffering. Here, people with character sized ambivalence will experience only one set of needs; either theirs or the others but never both simultaneously. Thus, even in the presence of love, the ill person feels alone. More over, the other can not rely on getting support and caring from the ill person in difficult times as people with character sized ambivalence sometimes give support and sometime do not, and even they will not know when the change will occur.
People with this type of mental illness often fall in love with or work for either character sized mentally ill people or for people with character sized neuroses. These relationships, though often severely conflicted, can remain intact for long periods of time.
As for the "early" and "late" qualifiers, these words have to do with how the age of onset determines the ill person's default first response to suffering. By this, I mean, if the illness occurs in the person's third year of life, the person's first response to suffering is most like the character sized mentally ill person, then alternating to the character sized neurotic person, and back and forth. And if the illness occurs in the person's fourth year of life? Then the person's first response to suffering is most like the character sized neurotic person, , then alternating to the character sized mentally ill person's responses, and back and forth.
Finally, below, you will find a chart briefly listing the three mentally ill responses to suffering in relationships along with the healthy response.
What About Event Sized Mental Illnesses?
Now what about the event sized mental illnesses? Basically, they are the same as the character sized mental illnesses except for the scope. Thus, as previously stated, all people have event sized mental illnesses, meaning all people have specific life situations wherein they temporarily think, feel, and act like the full versions above. Further, because event sized mental illnesses are often overlaid on top of a character sized mental illness, it can be extremely difficult at times to clearly define a person's state of health. However, by observing over time how the person responds to suffering in a relationship, one can do relatively well in their judgments of the person's condition. More over, these judgments will be more loving in nature and so, can lead to better and more gentle healing approaches.