Imagine yourself entering a shopping mall with your sunglasses on. Even though the lights are shining brightly, you cannot see them. Everything around you is dark and cold. But as soon as you remove your glasses, the world comes alive: the windows of the shops shine attractively, you see the brightly-coloured clothes, and the dazzling screen of the phone blinks with an incoming message.
When confronted with someone else’s strong emotions—intense joy or heartbreaking pain—we often do not know how to react. In the case of joy, the other person usually doesn't mind, because his feelings console him. But in the case of pain, things are completely different. Misunderstood suffering can make the sufferer isolate himself from the very people who could help him. So, how can we really help someone who is suffering?
Five decades ago, when the World Organization for Social Psychiatry was established, many thought it was a joke. Others, being more analytical, tried to prove that mental illness can only be an individual experience; that the problem always exists only in an individual and never in a group.