Concept of Crisis Concept of Crisis: An Analysis The concept of crisis is of special interest and value to all people involved

in the helping profession, which includes nurses. Nursing staff are in the best position to prevent and manage crisis because of their close proximity to persons in stressful


situations, as when patients and their families face the sudden impact of disease. Crisis is a subjectively unique and oftentimes personal experience. People react differently when confronted with the same stressful life event and the reaction is as individual as the characteristics of the person. Illness and hospitalization often cause a great deal of distress and anguish not only for the patient but also for the relatives, especially within a secure and tightly knit family group. Nursing provides effective physical and interpersonal milieu which can significantly influence the reaction of individuals who experience such events. This is achieved through practice of a holistic nursing approach that considers and includes both individual patient and family needs to substantiate effective interventions in the plan of care. Crisis as a concept in nursing is complex and defies consistent definition, because of its subjective and personal nature. Definitions depend mainly on the writer’s beliefs and the context is based on descriptive accounts. The purpose of this analysis paper is to examine ways in which the concept of crisis is used in literature from both professional and lay sources, and compare the extent to which these meanings are consistent with the concept as viewed in nursing. As antecedents, criteria and outcomes of crisis are identified from the literature, it is anticipated that a clearer understanding of the concept may emerge and a personal definition of the concept by this writer is formed.

‘characterized by unusual instability caused by excessive stress and either endangering or felt to endanger the continuity of the individual or his group’) and literary usage (‘point in a story or drama where a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved’). abrupt or decisive change’). From the review of dictionary definitions of the word crisis alone. 2006). . Margetts.Concept of Crisis LITERATURE REVIEW Dictionary Definitions 3 Crisis comes from the Greek word “krisis” meaning ‘decision’ and from the Latin root “krinien” meaning ‘to separate’.d. the word crisis is written with two characters: “wei” meaning ‘danger’.) denotes the word crisis to describe a variety of situations. for better or for worse’).. Similar definitions found in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1993) and on-line dictionary from Answers. n. and has been generally used as a noun. The word crisis has been defined as (a) a decisive moment. psychological and social conditions (‘an emotionally stressful. 1984). medical illness (‘a sudden change in the course of a disease or fever.d. and “chi” meaning ‘opportunity’ ( it is used in political and economic affairs (‘an unstable condition involving an impending. characteristics from these definitions are used to for criteria for the concept of crisis: (a) a turning point. (b) a time of danger or great difficulty. toward either improvement or deterioration. (c) the turning point (Illustrated Oxford Dictionary. Even in the Chinese language. significant event or traumatic change or radical change of status in a person’s life’.com (n.

(b) a time of great difficulty. It can arise from different underlying causes. a drying up of available cash reserves and increase or decrease in prices of goods and services due to either inflation or deflation. which are described as stressful. leading towards either a deterioration or improvement. Antecedents derived from these definitions are life-changing events that pose a threat to an individual or 2009). An economic crisis is a sharp transition towards a slowdown of a country’s economic growth (Wikipedia. Implicitly found 4 within these definitions is the presence of an emotional component surrounding the event. It can start from a financial crisis. a situation where supply of money is outpaced by the demand for money (Wikipedia. it is defined as “episodes of financial market volatility marked . significant. A financial crisis is characterized by irregularities in financial activity with accompanying anxiety in its movement which can last and lead to more damaging period of instability. a situation in which a country’s economy experiences a sudden downturn that includes a fall in its Gross Domestic Products (GDP). 2009). or traumatic. and takes the form of either a recession or a depression (BusinessDictionary. 2009). The Concept of Crisis from Selected Professional Disciplines Economics. liquidity is quickly evaporated as available money is withdrawn from banks (termed as a ‘run’) and force financial institutions to sell other investments to either make up for the shortfall or face collapse (BusinessDictionary. Consequences noted from these definitions are that crisis results in an unstable state or condition and needs resolution.Concept of Crisis a sudden change or a decisive moment. 2009).

Concept of Crisis 5 by significant problems of illiquidity and insolvency among financial market participants and/or by official intervention to contain such consequences” (Bordo.. 2001. p. Furman and Stiglitz (1998) expounded further the reasons for the development of an economic crisis.55). et al. 1).. in the US alone. 2008). et al. 2001. it is an observed financial upset resulting from gradual decline of most or all accumulated banking system capital (Bordo. p. and loose policies on market discipline and monitoring regulations triggered the sudden change in market perception of risk and the consequent shortage of short term capital to the financial institutions of these nations (Bordo. An economic crisis can also result from a currency crisis. Klingbiel & Martinez-Peria. specifically from the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis rooted in Thailand to the current global financial crisis that originated from the United States. Hanna. 2001). 2008). withdrawal of foreign capital. A banking crisis can initiate a financial crisis. Furman & Stiglitz. eviction from foreclosed homes (McGinn. standard features include “overshooting exchange rates. internal credit crunches and a process of disintermediation” (Furman & Stiglitz. faulty lending and borrowing incentives. strongly point out to real estate speculations due to overconfidence and market expectations.. 1998. where instability of the value of a country’s currency makes it difficult to be used as a reliable medium of exchange. et al. forced merger and declaration of bankruptcy of major . Considerable literature of periods of economic crisis. Eichengreen. abandonment of a pegged exchange rate from absence of capital control. Indicators needed to qualify for a crisis in currency include a forced change of equivalency exchange. and an international rescue (Bordo. 2001). The global economy presently feels the effects of the current crisis. failure to roll over short term debts. 1998.

2009) and halted infrastructure (“Crisis Shelves New Tallest Tower in Dubai”. which criticizes capitalist fundamentals. (b) financial instability from irregular financial movement and (c) sudden change in perception. 2008). 2009). Characteristics used to establish criteria after analyzing literature of crisis in the field of economics include: (a) a sharp transition or sudden downturn. include . 2009). the current situation can be correlated to the Marxist doctrine of a crisis. taxation and bankruptcy protection (Wikipedia. Incidentally. Implicitly. Interventions to mitigate the effects of the crisis include joint responses from the Federal Reserve Bank of the US and central banks around the world. an emotional aspect that includes feelings of anxiety and distress is presented in the literature. 1981). Antecedents to economic crisis. such as provisions for short term loans to banks. stalled development projects (Quiros. countercyclical spending is recoursed in hopes of sparking domestic demand to replace declining demand for Asian-made goods in both the US and Europe (Restall. upon analysis of this writer. job losses and unemployment from a drying up of orders for Asian-made goods (Ho. is disrupted. and falling stock market indices resulted to panic in the financial world and shook investors and their money out of risky mortgage banks and equities (Wikipedia. lowered interest rates and monetary policies regarding lending. 2009) were all attributed to the ongoing financial turmoil. 2008).Concept of Crisis 6 financial institutions (Phelps. which already learned its lesson in 1997. it is a period in which normal reproduction of an economic process (constituted both by production and accumulation altogether) depends on capital accumulation. 2009). Similar activity are done by many governments in Asia. and expresses itself in social inequality and weakened consumer capacity (Mattick. In Asia.

it is suggestive of drama and the need for decisions. failure to pay debts. 2005).Concept of Crisis 7 events that constitute a loss within the economic perspective. either in monetary value or finances and all events contributed to perceptions of risk or threat to both individual and group players in the economic field. an Enlightenment philosopher and author of “The American Crisis”. and magnifies the importance of both major and non-vents. difficulty to use one’s currency as a medium of exchange. 1993. 26) as a convenient cliché to mean critical turning points and processes. historian Randolf Starn (1976) described the term crisis (as cited in Lagadec. a collective work of essays on the early part of the American Revolution. however. and consequently a change in the international system. For journalists and politicians. describing the situation then as “the times that try men’s souls” (Wikipedia. three . Consequently. the word crisis is used to describe any situation that someone wants to use to justify doing something that will be called a solution (Sowell. p. 2009). coup d’états and minor incidents. For an individual state. Politics and International Relations. shortage of capital supply. draws out emotions without serious thought. generate changes in the behavior of the state. Consequences to a crisis in the economy include the negative effects that show stunted or declined economic activity such as rising or falling commodity prices. In current political semantics and mass media definitions. and stalled development and infrastructure projects. job losses. Crisis for a state initiate from changes in the environment. Thomas Paine (1776). bankruptcy and collapse of financial institutions. attempted to bolster morale and resistance among patriots as well as shame neutrals and loyalists to the ruling British governing early America. these outcomes require necessary intervention in order to lessen its effects on the economy.

which was originally thought of as stemming from separateness between a dense Muslim Arab north and a secular Sudanese south. Wikipedia. survival and economic welfare). it involves a sequence of interactions between governments of two or more sovereign states in severe .Concept of Crisis conditions derived from a change in the state’s internal and external environment 8 necessitate development and declaration of a state for a crisis. awareness of a finite time for decision and increase in the likelihood for war (Brecher & Wilkenfeld. 1993).e. these are perceptions held of the highest level of the decision makers of the state concerned: a threat to one or more of basic values (i. For a crisis between states. existence. the event is complex and the motives of its actors are not always clear. but it has now been increasingly viewed as a fight to death between the traditional royalist elite threatened by dominance from an authoritarian but highly popular leader in the person of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra outside the Bangkok-based clique (The Economist. Herman (1969) viewed crisis for a state (as cited in Brecher & Wilkenfeld. was further compounded by spiraling factionalism among insurgency groups seeking power in the south. 2009).3) as “a situation that threatens high priority goals of the decision making unit. Sudan’s political crisis. political regime. 1997). p. The political crisis of Thailand in 2008 lead to the takeover of Suvarnabhumi airport by rallysits and subsequent resignation of its prime minister. influence. and surprises the members of the decision making unit of its occurrence”. restricts the amount of time available for response before the decision is transformed.. and an unpopular military regime-like government lead by Omar Bashir wanting to methodically transform Sudanese society to a militarized an ideologist police state in the mold of its ally Iran (Medani. 2008. territorial integrity. 1997.

Religion. enough to evoke feelings of fear and tension to an uncomfortable level (Snyder & Deising. In the period of scientific development.Concept of Crisis 9 conflict. examining and giving new expression to Christian faith. short of actual war. It refers to a crucial episode in the transformational journey of spiritual development. 1959). as seen on three levels – understanding the order of nature. Consequences to political crisis include declarations or acts of war. (b) erupts from a change in the environment and (c) a need to make a decision. Implicitly. Christian doctrines view a spiritual crisis as a testing of one’s spiritual being. emanating from an unresolved conflict between Christianity and the natural sciences due to man’s inability to integrate a vast increase in human knowledge and rightly direct an enormous growth of technical power in accordance with essential Christian truths. where rapid dramatic changes and a demanding inner state bombarded by experiences that challenge old beliefs and ways of existing make it difficult for a person . and scrutinizing ethical and moral problems while living in the industrial and nuclear age (Yarnold . civilian unrest and unstable political conditions. Criteria formed in analyzing literature for crisis in politics and international relations include: (a) a trying time or period. but involves perception of a dangerously high probability of war. emotional elements such as surprise for the occurrence of a crisis and crisis as eliciting fear and tension to state players also constitute as an attribute. Antecedents to crisis include events that are viewed to pose a threat to priority concerns of political decision makers of the state as identified in the literature. 1977).

Antecedents found within the literature review include life changing situations that deals with confrontation of mortality and pain. Criteria established in reviewing literature for spiritual crisis include: (a) a crucial episode in spiritual journey and (b) a turning point. one feels isolated from the deeper self. Sometimes referred to as a ‘dark night’. It is initially characterized by an awareness of the absence of meaning and purpose. these may be in the form of unexpected events like sudden acute illness. 2008). During the spiritual crisis. injury and being victim of a crime. a total and complete alienation that seeps through one’s entire being. 1999). with such questions unsatisfactorily explained both by science and rational thinking (Portou. Another antecedent is the search for . 1992). they are similar to common psychological dilemmas people experience. All these events convey a meaning of loss to the person experiencing it. but having its roots in the spiritual dimension (Myss. A spiritual crisis can also be 10 described as a unique form of grieving or loss marked by profound questions or a lack of meaning in life in which the individual or community reaches a turning point. where sufficiency or deficiency of previously held beliefs is called into question. higher power or God which results in the most overwhelming kind of loneliness. 2008).Concept of Crisis to function fully in everyday life (Grof & Grof. a spiritual crisis may also involve experience of personal limitations and removal of attachment from consolations felt in prayer or a more profound challenge to faith (Martin. leading to significant changes in the way life is viewed (Agrimson & Taft. death or loss of a loved one or having an unusual spiritual experience or traumatic events like accidents. It is a search for meaning and connectivity to some larger purpose. 1996). followed by a loss of self-identity and finally a need for spiritual devotion.

It could arise from universal experiences that are predictable and naturally occur in the lifetime of both individual and family as they pass through various developmental stages. coping. adaptation and change. all of which require intervention and guidance of a spiritual adviser or director. menopause). purpose and connectivity. child birth. Other definitions stated crisis as an acute state of disorganization that happens when stressors are in excess for the person’s ability to cope (De Laune & Ladner. specifically if there is lack of guidance and . 2008. anxiety.. 2006). the concept is also utilized as part of multidisciplinary psychiatric intervention in the management of both individual and community mental health problems. They become crisis because they can be periods of severe and prolonged stress. an abrupt time-limited state of imbalance resulting from situational. and a brief non-illness response to severe stress (Rosen. p. such are classified as developmental or maturational crises. The Concept of Crisis in Nursing Literature Definitions. and thus its classification. such as a perceived loss.965) as a “disturbance caused by precipitating events. Snyder. Stuart and Larai (2005) defined crisis (as cited in Taylor. Types of Crisis. developmental or societal sources of stress (Berman. 2008).g.Concept of Crisis meaning. with its clearly defined moments and required role changes (e. Le Mone. loneliness and alienation. a threat of loss or a challenge that is perceived as a threat to self”. adolescents gaining independence from parents. the term crisis is 11 connected to the concepts of stress. In nursing literature reviewed by this writer. Various types of events may initiate a crisis state. Lillis & Lynn. Consequences include emotional responses such as feelings of isolation or abandonment. 1999). Kozier & Erb.

and situation specific (e. occur with a change in role or function. natural or man-made disasters involving mass casualties (e. De Laune & Ladner. sudden illness. et al. they include severe traumatic conditions caused by violent personal assault. Another type. floods. death of a loved one). The person perceives the situation as overwhelming or ultimately life-threatening.. Both the individual and the significant others are affected in the crisis state. Situational crises.g.. and are culture.Concept of Crisis support to prevent being stuck while in transition. The crisis cannot be resolved with usual coping skills or means to problem-solve. 3. unpredictable events not part of everyday experience or shared accumulated knowledge and are usually harder to cope up with. on the other hand. Characteristics. 2. Coping mechanisms either fail or is temporarily inefficient to address the situation at hand or adapt to the stressor. 12 result from unpredictable life events not experienced by everyone. A crisis is experienced as a sudden event. even if others “see it coming”. job promotion or job loss. without warning. There may be perceived or actual displacement from familiar surrounding or loved ones . 5. Characteristics common to all crises include the following: (Berman. earthquakes). 2006) 1. separation or divorce. fire. and those associated with severe mental illness. 2008. which can increase both the number of crisis a person experience and sensitivity to a crisis..g. A crisis has an identifiable precipitating event. whether this perception is real or not 4. accidents. are derived from rare. adventitious or complex crises.

a crisis event . either actual or perceived. even if the experience is negative. or any significant factor in the individual. A crisis itself is not a mental disorder. 1990). A crisis is unique not only according to the individual and circumstances around it. Intervention is required for equilibrium to be achieved. A state of crisis offers the individual or family great potential for growth. Crisis and Crisis Intervention Theory. as stress is a universal part of human condition. learning opportunities and change. This loss may take the form of an object. usually it lasts a in a period of four to six weeks (Taylor. Successful resolution of the crisis increases when the person works through the crisis with available help from another person. According to crisis theory. however. where marked distress in excess of what is expected cause significant or lasting impairment in social or occupational functioning. Stress should not be used interchangeably with crisis. but not in others.Concept of Crisis as well as decreased or cut-off communication with significant others. 7. a person. 8. a severe or prolonged response to a crisis may lead to mental illness such as major depression or an adjustment disorder. a wish or aspiration. All crises contain an aspect of loss. owing to the uncomfortable state that the disequilibrium brings. A crisis is also characterized for its time-limited nature. 13 6. but also the outcomes according to the person’s perception and coping abilities. not all stressful experiences produce crisis and the same form of stressor may precipitate a crisis in some.

Caplan (1971) defines a crisis (as cited in Wooley. the tension is much greater.1403) as that state occurring: when a person faces an obstacle to important life goals that is for a time insurmountable through the utilization of customary methods of problem solving. Typically an individual handles problems by bringing into play a variety of problem-solving mechanisms. which does not become excessive simply because the state is short-lived and the person is accustomed to such periods of tension. first because the problem is more significant and. or an opportunity because at 14 times of crisis. because the individual's usual ways of dealing with problems offer no solution. a period of upset. The individual finds the uncomfortable state to be of much longer duration than the usual problem-solving activities. second. the person is in a state of tension. Through this behavior the individual may either develop new methods of dealing with the problem or fail and simply avoid a solution.Concept of Crisis can be seen from two viewpoints . one of which solves the problem. In crisis. The new . 1994). and feelings of helplessness and ineffectiveness develops. individuals are more susceptible and amenable to therapeutic intervention (Aguilera & Messick. p. Before the solution occurs. however. 1990. during which many different abortive attempts at solution are made.that of a threat as the individual or family may be considerably influenced by its effect on mental health. These feelings are associated with some disorganization of function that may consist either of attempts at discharging inner tension or trial-and-error attempts to solve the problem. A period of disorganization ensues.

Criteria established for the concept of crisis in the review of the nursing literature include (a) experienced as sudden. (d) affects both individual and significant others. and a return to equilibrium among these factors enable the individual to resolve the crisis effectively. if effective. either one. Antecedents for the concept to occur include any identifiable life event that poses a significant meaning to the individual. For couples married 20 years only to end in divorce. (c) characterized by disorganization and an emotional upset. will be of aid in the future. or sometimes more of these factors is out of balance during a crisis.Concept of Crisis methods of problem solving developed during crisis are added to his repertoire of behaviors and. it denotes a valid struggle on one’s current life situation. Inability to deal with the problem or a poor solution will inhibit future ability to cope with problems. 2001). overwhelming or life-threatening. fear and confusion and an array of various emotions are the woman’s constant companion (Thomas-Guillory. Factors identified to influence an individual’s resolution of a crisis. according to Aguilera & 15 Messick (1994) are perception. (b) cannot be addressed by usual coping means. Concept of Crisis in the Lay Literature The term crisis is often used by laypersons to describe a situation or a feeling state. and (e) requires intervention for successful resolution. Consequences to the concept of crises involve either successful or failed resolution of the crisis state by the individual. coping mechanism and situational support. For women victims of sexual assault. the painful experience for both husbands and wives leaves them to question and rethink going through all the . where the resulting stress is too great and viewed as an insurmountable challenge that it causes an inability to maintain a sense of balance.

Concept of Crisis 16 intimately shared experiences. and a moment for questioning. only to realize that none of these mean anything and with nothing to look forward to together (Reuben. Consequences include all the emotions felt during these experiences. Characteristics identified to set the criteria for the concept of crisis in the lay literature reviewed include (a) struggle viewed as an insurmountable challenge and (b) inability to maintain sense of balance. 1975). Antecedents derived from the literature include painful events such as that of sexual assault and divorce. both attributing to a loss in the person experiencing it. COMPARING AND CONTRASTING LITERATURE .