We are proud to announce that author Ellis Amdur has partnered with eBooks2go for his digital conversion services. In his comprehensive guidebook, Amdur walks families through a multitude of strategies they can use to keep themselves and their mentally ill family member safe. Learn the origin of Ellis’ journey as he conveys what really led him to write “In the Eye of the Hurricane”.

 In the Eye of the Hurricane

-By Ellis Amdur

This book was born in a far away place—Japan. I lived there thirteen years, training archaic martial arts that were created in the 16th century. My life was fascinating, and I was learning things that few people, in these modern times, had even heard of. However, I was contributing little to this world, merely making a round from one Tojo to another, practicing late into the night on my own, and otherwise, simply working at dull jobs to support my family.

Intending to return to America, I struggled to find a profession that would be challenging in its own right (something I certainly didn’t experience in Japan, teaching junior high school students conversational English!), and one within which  I could integrate some of my hard-won knowledge. I then heard of the field of crisis intervention, a kind of emergency mental health service, where one meets with people in acute states of cognitive and emotional disturbance, often in their own home, or in the community, and strives to help them come to a place of greater peace and safety.

I got a wonderful post-graduate education at Seattle University and coupled with all I had learned from Japanese traditions concerning ‘crisis intervention on the battlefield,’ where every action—stance, movement, utterance—can be a matter of life-and-death, I found my metier. I discovered that I was at ease—as much as one can be—in crisis situations.  My calm tended to calm others, even the suicidal, and those struggling with psychosis or homicidal thoughts. People were usually safer after we met than before.

If a skill is not shared, however, it will have limited value, because it reaches no farther than one person to another. Furthermore, I was a great improviser, but to pass one’s knowledge onwards, one needs to organize. Eventually, I began to teach: first police, then social services, and finally, those in almost any professional setting that one could imagine, because mental health crises can occur anywhere.

Some years ago, I was approached by a psychologist, Dr. Bea Dixon, who asked if I would be willing to work with her on an online project to teach families who cared for mentally ill loved ones how to enhance safety within their family system. I was not, at that time, all that interested in writing about this subject, but Dr. Dixon was so graciously persistent that her character won me over. The project took many twists and turns: unfortunately, Dr. Dixon was one step ahead of her time regarding online learning, and we did not get nearly the numbers of subscribers that we had hoped. We eventually folded the project, but what I was left with was an organized body of my work, which I turned into nine books. Each book (listed on my website – www.edgework.info) is a profession specific, comprehensive guidebook on the de-escalation and calming of aggressive and/or mentally ill individuals.  I have separate books for police, jails, probation/parole, 9-1-1, security, social services, hospitals, and my crown jewel, thanks to Dr. Dixon: In the Eye of the Hurricane, my book for families.

This last book is most important to me because all the other books concern professional encounters with individuals in crisis. Professional encounters are, usually ‘one-and-done,’ or in institutional settings, something that occurs during a work shift, almost always with the support of other personnel. Families, however, are a twenty-four hour situation—and often alone, with no back-up whatsoever. This is always wearing and stressful, and all too often, dangerous. One’s care and one’s responsibility never ends.

So I’ve written this book to help in the unending task of making a life as best as one can, with as much opportunity for kindness, for laughter and even joy, while living and caring for someone who may be profoundly mentally ill. This book concerns the ‘everyday’ as well as the ‘once in a while.’ In other words, the best crisis intervention is everyday actions that tend to reduce stress within oneself and others, so that crises are less likely to occur. When you become the ‘eye of the hurricane,’ you are a still point of living peace. Your calm and knowledge tends to draw the chaos of a family system into order.

Lest anyone be concerned, the book is very practical and easy to read.  There is absolutely no requirement that information about mental illness or emotional disturbance be dense with jargon or complicated.  Each chapter is ‘stand-alone,’ so that you can quickly refer to the information that you need. For example, if your loved one is experiencing paranoia, there is one chapter on communication with people in that state; if he or she is stuck in obsessions, is angry, or rigid and concrete in thinking patterns, there are single chapters for those subjects as well.

I published this in e-book format in hopes that the information could reach all over the world: that families in need would have help and that case managers and therapists could point out or offer this resource to their clients. Peace is more than good wishes—it requires concrete skills.  And here they are.

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