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You are here: Home > Distressed Faculty & Staff > Specific Problems > The Employee in Poor Contact with Reality

The Employee in Poor Contact with Reality

These employees have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality, the dream from the waking state. Their thinking is typically illogical, confused, and/or disturbed. They may coin new words, see or hear things which no one else can, have irrational beliefs, or exhibit bizarre or inappropriate behavior. Generally, these employees are not dangerous but they are very frightened and overwhelmed.



  • Respond with warmth and kindness, but with firm reasoning.
  • Remove extra stimulation from the environment and see the employee in a quiet/private atmosphere (if you are comfortable doing so).
  • Acknowledge your concerns and state that you can see she/he needs help.  You might say: "It seems very hard for you to integrate all these things that are happening and I am concerned about you. I would like to help."
  • Acknowledge her/his feelings or fears without supporting the misconceptions.  You may want to say: "I understand you think they are trying to hurt you, and I know how real it seems to you. But I don't hear the voices."



  • Argue or try to convince them of the irrationality of their thinking. This will generally make her/him defend their position (false perceptions) more.
  • Play along e.g., "Oh yeah, I hear the voices/see the devil".
  • Encourage further revelations.
  • Demand, command, or order.
  • Expect customary emotional responses.
by sebenl99 — last modified Oct 24, 2012 10:34 AM