Developmental psychologists, and others, point out that it is usually "disorienting dilemmas" that are responsible for shifts in consciousness into later stages. It works because a situation arises that cannot be explained by someones present level of consciousness, or development. Hence, an individual starts to expand their viewpoints, usually looking closer at perspectives they would not have considered at the earlier developmental stage.
Some psychologists and anthropologists point out that civilizations' major shifts occurred as a result of cultural and societal "disorienting dilemmas" that affected everyone, usually not in good ways as the old dies to the new. But as the old ways die, newer ways, some better, emerge.
In the last few months on this blog, I've been pointing out that there are visible signs of major societal collapse all around us: Peak Oil, out-of-control population, global warming, pollution, drought, resource wars, terrorism (both by governments and others), the pathological rise of corporatism (not all corporatism is pathological), and really ugly economic woes just beginning to squeak out despite efforts to hide it until the last moment, etc., etc.
As I've written before, even at it's worst, all of this is an opportunity to shift, to step up to the next level of human consciousness, learning from our mistakes....and it's beginning to look as if it will have to happen after everything falls apart, not before, because we're about to run out of time if we haven't already....
That's the big picture around impending collapse, provided we survive it at all.