The causes of emotional illnesses are unconscious. When a person becomes symptomatic he does not know why. He visits his physician. His physician may be stumped in making a diagnosis. The emotional illness may remit with rest, medications or brief hospitalization. The person may not pursue the problem by identifying underlying factors that created the emotional distress. Or, the person may attempt psychotherapy to create new options in understanding and managing his emotional problems, thereby eliminating symptoms and preventing recurrence of the emotional illness. Inevitably, recurrence will take pace if some change is not made in the way the ill person relates to others.

Emotional illnesses always arise from conflicts in interpersonal relationships. They arise when the person’s devices for coping are overwhelmed by accumulating problems with other significant people in his life. Since such conflicts are mostly unconscious they are beyond awareness. The person is unaware which relationships are pathological. He is unaware of how he participates in the relationships. He is not aware of how he tries to deal with the problems. And, lastly, he is unaware of how the problems in relationships have exceeded his capacity for coping and have created his emotional illness. The person has been accustomed to dealing with the people around him in his characteristic manner and sees no reason he should suddenly become incapacitated. Since the ailing individual is dealing with others in the only way he knows, he is oblivious to optional approaches in his relationships.