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Hendin, H. (2017). Psychodynamic Treatment of Combat Veterans with PTSD at Risk for Suicide. Psychodyn. Psych., 45(2):217-235.

(2017). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 45(2):217-235

Psychodynamic Treatment of Combat Veterans with PTSD at Risk for Suicide

Herbert Hendin, M.D.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition associated with suicide in both military personnel and combat veterans. Most veterans with PTSD, however, are not at risk of suicide. The major factor distinguishing those who attempted or were preoccupied with suicide is persistent severe guilt over behavior in combat while emotionally out of control. A 12-session short-term, psychodynamic psychotherapy, presented here, showed promise of success in dissipating the guilt from combat-related actions in veterans of the war in Vietnam. Preliminary work with combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan indicates it may be equally successful in treating them. Basic aspects of the psychodynamic approach could also be incorporated into current therapies and should improve their ability to treat veterans with PTSD at risk for suicide. Case examples are provided.

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