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01.02.2014 ・ Impulses

Temporary Family Member

Article by Oliver Graf and Dr. Pantaleon Fassbender: SECURITY INSIGHT 2/14

Active expectation and conflict management are central factors for success in personal protection for exposed and vulnerable families. In an atmosphere characterized by respect, acceptance, and transparency, it is much more effective to achieve protection goals and increase security levels. However, only those who have dealt with typical conflict situations from a psychological perspective and have professionally trained their reactions can truly leverage this advantage.

Problem Outline:

1. Social Class Divide

In personal protection, one typically works with families whose members come from a privileged upper class and naturally have relatively high expectations.

2. Transference and Countertransference

We are regularly confronted with the fact that unconscious and unfulfilled expectations, desires, and ideas of the protected individuals form an internal relationship with our own expectations and fantasies about what we should or should not do. Under stress and threat, these unconscious mechanisms are activated particularly quickly. Personal protectors may also be subject to archaic longings and expectations, as security and comfort represent basic needs, the fulfilment of which is delegated and associated with strong ideal images. Subconsciously, one may want to recognize the archetypal warrior and saviour in a personal protector.

3. Shifting Social Contexts:

Each family member to be protected perates in different social environments (school, sports club, profession), inevitably influenced by norms. This naturally reflects on role expectations placed on the personal protector. In such a complex and intricate field of psychological and sociological processes, the likelihood of frustration for both sides increases significantly.

Solution Approaches:

1. A New Curriculum

The typical linear approach of presenting flawless protection concepts and waiting to see what happens is insufficient. Because a problem that is not an anomaly but rather a necessary consequence of relationship building will never disappear on its own. Therefore, like any partner who enters a family system for a limited time and intensively, the personal protector needs specific resources because they can be drawn into a variety of emotional “games.” This can include provoking parents, being the target of perceived limitations of the male protective role, or becoming an emotional object for protector fantasies.

2. Completing Pschological “Homework”:

Role clarification, self-reflection, and a conscious handling of one’s own needs within the tension between closeness, distance, stability, and change. “In recurring workshops, we try to develop a sense among our employees for unspoken expectations, atmospheric disruptions, and other symptoms of hidden conflicts. To some extent, one must ‘learn to feel’ again. With thinking alone, like a computer, we are limited to the parameters of 0 and 1. This can accomplish a lot, but certainly not everything! In the context of conflict prevention and moderation, we have had good experiences with honest and trustful dialogues between security escorts and protectees, where people meet as humans, not just as functional roles. It is legitimate and important to consciously move away from the purely factual level to address informal and emotional content. Both initial awareness conversations and institutionalized regular meetings provide good opportunities to invite mutual expectation alignment and dismantle confrontational positions, as diplomatic evasions generally do not help.


The deeper our understanding of relevant psychological relationships, the more likely we are to communicate to protectees where personal boundaries lie. Those who open up the corresponding spaces for thought and action put themselves in a position to effectively manage challenging protection assignments. Against this backdrop, the psychological training and development of personal protectors must be broadened. It is entirely incomprehensible why coaching and supervision, recognized methods of personal and personality development in competitive sports, are well established, but are rarely or only restrictively used in professional personal protection.

Source Citation: Security Insight, Issue 02/2014, P. 54 ff., https://prosecurity.de/security-insight

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