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Hinshelwood, B. (1991). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 8(1):3-4.

(1991). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 8(1):3-4


Bob Hinshelwood

AIDS is topical and deathly. Its silence and final, sudden calamity give it a special psychological power. We present three papers concerned with the impact of AIDS on the personality of the sufferer and the carrier of the virus. Lorna Bradley describes her counselling work with those presenting for HIV testing. The worry about the possibility of being HIV positive is itself already a condition amenable to psychological intervention, and counselling at that point creates the possibilities for long-term intervention where necessary. The way the impact of the disease affects the personality is varied. One of the reactions to being HIV positive is a bitter withdrawal, and vengeance against the social shame and condemnation of the sufferer and his sexuality. This phenomenon of revenge is examined in the paper by Hari Maharajh and Patricia Sarkar-Crooks, who argue therefore for the early intervention of the psychiatrist/ psychotherapist in the work with those presenting for testing. The impact of a virtual death sentence as it seems to the patient is compounded by the social reaction they are confronted with. Close relatives and friends in particular, and society in general, combine in moral condemnation of the already traumatised patient by socially shaming and rejecting him. Bernard Ratigan examines the possibilities for providing a helping environment that can go towards mitigating the social trauma to those already facing death.

The social shame attached to sexual deviance has

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