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Spielberg, W. (2017). A Tale of Two Firefighters and Trump. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(3):366-368.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(3):366-368

A Tale of Two Firefighters and Trump

Warren Spielberg, Ph.D.

It was Veterans Day and once again I found myself playing in a golf tournament with members of the FDNY and their families. Fifteen years ago I developed a clinical intervention in collaboration with the FDNY that embedded psychologists in the 70 firehouses that lost men. In addition to developing the program. I was the clinician for a Brooklyn battalion. I worked with men from several houses. Beginning in January 2002, for close to 5 years, I spent anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days working with the men in a firehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In a real sense, all the members of the firehouse were my patients.

The work at one particular firehouse went very well partly because I took on a coleader for my groups. Frank, an FDNY Battalion Commander, a Viet Nam vet, assisted me. Our partnership gave me more credibility with the men. But like everyone in the firehouse, Frank also became a patient as we processed together the work of the group and his own reactions to the trauma of the men.

While I worked at the firehouse, I made a decision to avoid talking about politics. I thought this would undermine the grieving process. The politics of most firefighters are right of center, tending to be conservative. These tendencies were intensified by the World Trade Center attacks and its ongoing psychological impact.

I had just seen Frank a few months before at a 9/11 commemoration at the firehouse. As always we discussed the work we did together. Frank likened our time together to his experience as a submariner in the U.S. Navy. I resonated with that image; I felt we were often underwater, fighting against drowning, doing what we could to live through painful submerged mines of pain and loss.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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