Look at it this way. It is a way of functioning. Waking up to the poverty and desperation of their situation would be devastating. It is kinder and easier to dive in to the lie.
I was interested in a study of 9-11 survivors and the ways they coped with their grief. Not everyone took advantage of counsellors. Some stayed comfortable in their denial. (He is away on a business trip and will be back soon). The latest thinking is that people will find a way to cope, even if it is unorthodox, and it might be even more damaging to insist that they "process" their grief in a conventional way.
The research confirms that most disaster survivors do not need to see a mental health professional, and there is very little evidence for the usefulness of any kind of therapeutic intervention in the first month. The growing consensus is that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, survivors need practical, logistical help to meet their basic needs, whether communicating with loved ones or transportation or money. The goal of this type of approach, known as Psychological First Aid, is to stabilize survivors and connect them with additional resources as a way to reduce stress and encourage adaptive functioning. The time for therapy is later on, and only after an accurate assessment.
In the end, the largest lesson for the mental health field is that when disaster strikes, practitioners should not get in the way of natural coping. Instead of trying to provide services to the entire population, they should, after a month or so, target the people who might need it most and then tailor their approaches, taking individual and cultural differences into account.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2092130,00.html#ixzz2Id5ZW5mc In case I wasn't clear, I find a family like this to be a walking disaster. Even so, they have found a way to cope.