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Emotional First Aid: A Crisis Handbook | by Dr. Sean Haldane

Emotions are part of the movement of life. It often feels good to let this movement through. After a good cry or a well-directed explosion of anger, the whole organism may feel more alive. But we don't always let these emotions through easily. We often choke on our tears, or bottle up our anger. Another emotion, fear, stands in the way. We even hold back the most pleasurable emotion—joy...

TitleEmotional First Aid: A Crisis Handbook
AuthorSean Haldane
PublisherStation Hill Press
AmazonEmotional First Aid
book cover

Note: Published on in digital format with an explicit permission from Sean Haldane. The copyright remains with Sean Haldane.

Sean Haldane teaches us, quickly and responsibly, how to give appropriate assistance in those times when emotion becomes unbearable. His attitude is the one I want to reach for in an emergency. This clarity in the face of extreme anger, joy, grief, and fear is as useful for therapists, conference organizers, and parents as it is for poets—anyone interested in the precise details of human expression.

Nor Hall

author of The Moon and the Virgin

Our culture does not provide us with concepts and techniques that may come to our assistance in time of stress and turmoil. In Emotional First Aid, Dr. Haldane has provided this service for us, drawing upon sound psychological principles as well as on his years of experience as an accomplished psychotherapist.

Dr. Stanley Krippner Saybrook Institute

In this fine book, Haldane has for the first time set out clearly and accessibly for everyone the basic means to ease a difficult emotional passage and made clear, as well, the difference between this skillful immediate aid and the deeper work that is to require therapy.

Julie Henderson

author of The Lover Within

In the form of a handbook, Sean Haldane has given us a valuable primer in long ignored Reichian psychology. A lucid and compelling writer, a well educated and experienced therapist, a wise and compassionate human being, Dr. Haldane offers unusual insights into the psychology of everyday life that may better equip one to deal not only with others' emotions but with one's own as well.

Dr. Richard Farson

Western Behavioral Sciences Institute

ISBN: 0-88268-071-4


Distributed by The Talman Company


First paperback edition published, 1988, by Station Hill Press, Inc., Barrytown, New York 12507. Published by arrangement with Irvington Publishers, Inc. Copyright ©1984

Produced by the Institute for Publishing Arts, Barrytown, New York 12507, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization.

Cover designed by Susan Quasha.

Distributed by the Talman Company., Inc., 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Haldane, Sean.

Emotional first aid / by Sean Haldane, p. cm.

Bibliography: p.

Includes index.

ISBN 0-88268-071-4 (pbk.)

1. Emotions. 2. Helping behaviors. 3. Crisis intervention (Psychiatry) 4. Reich, Wilhelm, 1897-1957. I. Title.

BF531.H27 1988 152.4-dcl9

Manufactured in the United States of America.

For Ghislaine with love and gratitude

-Chapter 1. Emotional First Aid (EFA)
Why emotional first aid? Emotions are part of the movement of life. It often feels good to let this movement through. After a good cry or a well-directed ...
-Chapter 2. Emotion and Blocks
This chapter explains some general principles of emotional expression and its blocking. Vertical flow The head end of any organism is the leading end in ...
-Chapter 3. Support without Invasion
When and where Like medical first aid, emotional first aid offers help but not necessarily cure. Nor does it offer advice on further treatment. Since emotional ...
-Chapter 4. Grief
Expression The face of grief was described by Darwin as having two main features: a turning down of the comers of the mouth, and a slanting downward of the ...
-Grief. Part 2
Contact (2): Touch, Movement Whether you touch the person must, again, depend on the relationship you already have. But if the person has accepted your offer ...
-Grief. Part 3
Problems There are several problem situations with the expression of grief that may cause the helper anxiety, but are not dangerous. Acting out. This is ...
-Chapter 5. Anger
Expression The basic expression of rage that Darwin noted in both primates and humans consists of a rush of blood to the face and scalp; a 'contraction and ...
-Anger. Part 2
Much work with anger aims to focus it, to direct it toward specific obstacles, more in keeping with the original biological functioning. The blind rage of ...
-Anger. Part 3
Finally, words are the only way to make a contract for safety if a person's anger is turned toward you, as may happen if you are intimate with the person even ...
-Anger. Part 4
It may be worth noting that hatred, while not in itself an emotional expression, has more of an active relationship to anger than other 'states' do. Hatred, in ...
-Chapter 6. Fear
Fear may range from a low-grade anxiety that is hardly visible externally to a terror that is so dramatic as to be in itself terrifying. As anxiety mounts, ...
-Fear. Part 2
Distress Main distress signs for fear can be summarized: A) General signs: difficulty in breathing (uneven heaving of the chest or unusual tightness in a ...
-Fear. Part 3
Anxiety. Perhaps the most useful verbal suggestion you can make to someone who is in a severe state of anxiety that threatens their functioning is that they ...
-Fear. Part 4
Panic. Again there are two approaches. First, allow panic and agitation to develop fully while protecting the person against injury. Second, 'steady' the ...
-Fear. Part 5
Problems As with grief and rage, where intermediate states of depression or resentment present more problems than any temporary block of the expression once it ...
-Chapter 7. Joy
Expression Joy is antigravity. It leaps upward and outward. Children and animals jump and bounce for joy. Adults feel 'high.' In fact, our center of gravity ...
-Joy. Continued
Embarrassment has a sexual content, fear of exposure of what we really want. It is as if in exposing our joy, we expose our sexuality. If you doubt this, think ...
-Chapter 8. Children/Parent Crises
EFA with children The dynamics of emotional expression in children and in adults are the same. In fact, by observing the emotions of children, we can learn a ...
-Children/Parent Crises. Part 2
Mothering and parenting Mother gets the blame for everything. This may seem unfair. So much therapy or psychoanalysis teaches people to express their long ...
-Children/Parent Crises. Part 3
Further problems will be discussed under the headings of the basic emotions. Grief Grief as we know it in adults does not exist in infants under the age of ...
-Children/Parent Crises. Part 4
Fear Fear of falling and fear of separation from mother seem to be the earliest fears, and they are associated since all falling is away from mother. Other ...
-Children/Parent Crises. Part 5
Childbirth Emotions are usually excluded from childbirth. This may seem like an extreme statement in view of the many photographs that exist of delighted ...
-Chapter 9. Questions about Emotional First Aid
Over the last four years I have given talks or day-long courses on EFA to various groups of people, through psychotherapy training programs, an institute for ...
-Questions about Emotional First Aid. Part 2
Is it useful to discharge anger by hitting a pillow? Many people have done this exercise in therapy workshops or encounter groups, and been encouraged to ...
-Questions about Emotional First Aid. Part 3
Does EFA work with post partum depression? Like any depression, a genuine post partum depression contains a mixture of suppressed emotions mainly grief, ...
-Questions about Emotional First Aid. Part 4
Is it harmful to suppress a child's temper tantrums? This is often a question involving the adult's survival. A parent can hardly resist trying to stop a ...
-Chapter 10. Emotional First Aid in Counseling
Non-counselors are invited to read this chapter. It contains no secrets for a closed circle. But it discusses some questions which have come up specifically in ...
-Emotional First Aid in Counseling. Part 2
How can wife-battering be stopped? It cannot be stopped by EFA, unless in conjunction with therapy. Sado-masochistic dynamics are too intricate, and the ...
-Emotional First Aid in Counseling. Part 3
How do emotional blocks effect a person's world view? Some version of this question is usually asked by psychologists or others with an interest in perception ...
-Chapter 11. A Note on Self Help and Professional Help
It has been clear from classes in EFA that many participants are primarily interested in EFA as a method of self help. Then, why not call it Emotional Self ...
-Suggested Further Reading
Area The dynamics of the emotions: * Darwin, Charles. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. University of Chicago Press, 1965. * Reich, Wilhelm.

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