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What Is the Breaking Point?

Unresolved trauma may cause some individuals to experience an emotional breakdown.
Detectives work to reach a guilty person's breaking point during an interrogation.
A realization about one's relationship can lead to a breaking point that ends the relationship.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2014
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In psychology, the breaking point refers to the point at which a person breaks down, can endure no more, or finally reaches a point where a permanent change is made. This is typically related to stressful or highly emotional situations, in which a person will be forced to cope with something that particularly challenges them. The breaking point for each individual person may be different; some people respond particularly well to stressful situations, while others have a much lower point at which a situation becomes too much to endure. To visually imagine this point, picture a piece of wood or plastic that is bent at an angle; eventually, the stress of the curve will be too much, and the wood or plastic will simply snap.

The concept of the breaking point is one of the key ideas behind interrogating people accused of a crime. The interrogation can be quite intense and long lasting, to encourage people to reach their breaking point and reveal the information that the interrogator is looking for. Of course, certain methods of interrogation raise questions about their ethics; particularly if people are forced to their breaking point, but then reveal false information because the interrogation is too intense.

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Of course, there are a number of other situations that can lead people to a breakdown in life. A particularly stressful time, such as the loss of a job or a serious medical condition, can bring individuals to the point where they break down. The loss of a spouse, partner, or close family member could also lead to this effect. This could lead to an emotional breakdown, mental illness such as depression, or other mental issue. Some people can resolve these problems by themselves, while others will need treatment from a mental health professional.

A breaking point does not necessarily need to lead to a negative outcome. It can also spur significant positive life changes. For instance, people with drug or alcohol addictions might reach a point where they realize, through whatever means necessary, that they cannot go on as they are. This might lead them to pursue treatment and get help, and to eventually turn their lives around and defeat the addiction. Even something such as a realization about one's relationships or career can lead to a sort of breaking point, and an eventual change to something better; it is important to recognize that the point at which one realizes that a change needs to be made can be one of the most beneficial points in life.

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Discuss this Article

Chmander
Post 3

In my opinion, how well a person handles a breaking point can mainly depend on how much one has been through in life. For example, if someone grew up in a rough neighborhood, things that bother other people might not even phase them. However, if someone hasn't gone through many troubles, even the smallest of hardships can seem like a big deal.

Hazali
Post 2

I like how the article isn't completely black and white, and even gives some perspectives on how having a breaking point can be a positive thing. True to life, a lot of the things that happen to us, we bring them on ourselves. If we are suffering the consequences of our actions, it can definitely cause us to have a different outlook on life. In some cases, it may even cause us to turn our life around. For example, even though this is one of the more extreme cases, let's say that someone committed murder and went to prison. While incarcerated, they may even begin to ponder and feel remorse for what they've done. Overall, I agree with this article. While having a breakdown is anything but fun, it can definitely cause us to change our perspective.

Viranty
Post 1

Although I have been through some stressful events in my life, I have never reached a breaking point. From reading some of the aspects in this article, I can definitely see that it would take quite a bit. As what's indirectly mentioned, seeking a counselor can be one of your best bets. Going through difficult times alone can be incredibly stressful, and when you talk to someone about it (whether it's your friends or a psychologist), it really gives you encouragement in the sense that you know you're not alone. There are people thinking about you, and they could even give you some encouraging words.

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