chapter  11
12 Pages

Help-Seeking Behavior and the Prepatient Experience

Some mentally disturbed people make the decision to seek treatment for a psychiatric condition on their own, but often a person is defined as abnormal by others in the community, and on that basis he or she is directed to mental health services. The help-seeking process, however, is complicated not only by the problem of the individual or his or her family not knowing what actually constitutes mental disorder, but also by the vast differences among people, both individually and as a group, in their capacity to tolerate difficult behavior. The tendency of others, particularly relatives, to “normalize” difficult behavior patterns through rationalization until those patterns can no longer be tolerated is a major reason there often is a delay in seeking psychiatric treatment.