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Feldmann, T.B. Johnson, P.W. (1995). The Application of Psychotherapeutic and Self Psychology Principles to Hostage Negotiations. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 23(2):207-221.

(1995). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 23(2):207-221

The Application of Psychotherapeutic and Self Psychology Principles to Hostage Negotiations

Theodore B. Feldmann, M.D.* and Phillip W. Johnson, Ph.D.

This paper provides an examination of the dynamics of hostage incidents and negotiations from a self psychology perspective, and demonstrates the similarities between hostage negotiations and psychotherapy. This represents a new and potentially beneficial application of the principles of psychoanalytic self psychology. The application of psychotherapeutic principles to hostage negotiation will likewise facilitate better understanding of the complex dynamics involved in hostage situations. These points will be elaborated, and case illustrations from actual hostage situations will be presented to demonstrate the usefulness of this formulation.

Background: The Phenomenon of Hostage-Taking

The phenomenon of hostage-taking has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. One need only pick up the newspaper or watch the television news to learn of another instance of hostage-taking. Many of these incidents are resolved peacefully by law enforcement officers. A substantial number of such incidents, however, often end with tragic results that include the injury or death of hostages, civilian bystanders, law enforcement officers, or the hostage-takers.

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