How should I express discontent?

Patients tend to show irregular or abnormal behaviours when they are affected by their symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Moreover, patients often find it hard to control their emotions, leading to conflicts between family members and caretakers, some extreme cases might even involve violence. These situations may affect relationships in the family such as feeling very frustrated towards the patient, or even criticizing and alienating the patient. Family members may tend to chastise the patient, thinking that patient isn’t fulfilling their expectations thus wanting to force the patient change; or maybe family members might use a negative attitude to judge the patient, thinking that the patient is the root of the problem. Research has found out that the chance of relapse of a patient is positively correlated with the number of conflicts in the family, meaning that the more conflicts in the family, the larger the chance of the patient relapsing. On the other hand, if family members can strive to be compassionate and understanding towards the patient, it will be helpful towards the recovery of the patient.
As family or caretakers, we should understand that metal conditions and medications do have certain effects on the patient; therefore we need to be reasonably accepting and compassionate to the patient. But, if there are situations in which something unreasonable happens, we should also give suitable criticism. Suitable criticism helps us empathize right the situation more and it also reminds others to be more disciplined. Criticism should be simple, clear and serious, at the same time we should remember to respect our family members, and try to comment on the situation but not the person. While we are considering giving criticisms, we can consider the following techniques:


  State the behaviour that was inappropriate  Stating the specific action and behaviour is crucial to the understanding of what is right or wrong
1. Explain why the certain behaviour is inappropriate  letting patients or family members know the reason behind helps them understand why the behaviour is inappropriate
2. Express feeling and emotions  This is relatively difficult for a lot of people, but it is crucial to express one’s feelings to let the patient empathize and understand with your standpoint
3. Show trust and support  This can support and encourage the patient to improve
4. Suggest reasonable expectations  This can help the patient know what is expected of him/her and have clear direction on what to improve on

For example: ‘You came back really late at night, and you might have the chance to encounter danger. I hope you understand that this will make me very worried. I believe that you will know how to to make me trust you more. If you know you are going to be late next time, would you mind giving me a call beforehand?’ 

Sometimes, when we are really angry and frustrated, it will be very hard for us to control our emotions. We can consider expressing our emotions then leaving the scenario for a while to let the steam off before dealing with the situation with a mature and calm way. For example: ‘I am really angry and disappointed right now. I need a little time and space. Hopefully when I come back I will able to deal with this in a calm and mature attitude.’