We usually know how the important people in our lives will behave in a given circumstance. Otherwise our social relations would be more chaotic than they are. The ability of the mind to control anxiety, remarkable though it may be, is not without limits. Each substance on earth has finite limits and the human cognitive apparatus is no exception. Human organisms have both basic physical prerequisites to sustain physical life and, equally important, emotional needs. There is a necessary interdependency. We need emotional support from others, just as they need it from us. This is what makes survival worthwhile. Physical needs have neither the complexity nor the sensitivity of emotional needs.
No enduring relationship is free of conflict. Most lasting emotional relationships are marked by significant problems. Each individual strives to resolve conflicts affecting him in the most expedient way, in order to maintain a reasonable balance between the emotional support expended and that received. If the stresses from these conflicts exceed the capacity of the individual’s coping, emotional symptoms will send a warning signal of impending failure.
Emotional illness will occur whenever the coping capacity of an individual is surpassed by continuous stresses over a protracted period of time. The symptoms produced by this disequilibrium can totally perplex the person. Often, he will place blame on any cause other than emotional. Many people will state emphatically that the cause could not be emotional for they have noted no change in the pressures of everyday life. The individual is rendered helpless and cannot begin to unravel the mystery. He is not cognizant of even the rudimentary components of what he is reacting to. He is unaware of which conflicts are likely to exceed his limits. And, he cannot recognize where he gives support or whose support sustains him. He is unable to relate the causes to the effects due to his lack of understanding of how his mind operates.