Early Preventive Psychotherapy after Disasters

  • Henry Krystal


The vulnerability of the human psyche has been becoming increasingly evident. Since the pioneering work of Freud (1) which was inspired by the observations of Charcot, there has been an awareness that overwhelming events occurring at certain vulnerable points in one’s life could leave one with life-long difficulties. Freud’s studies made it possible for him to focus on the psychic reality of the subject — alerting us to the fact that any “event” has to be experienced and interpreted by the individual in question. This was the key observation which made possible all the later studies of the “war neuroses”, and other situations which were especially perilous for the human psyche. On the other hand, it leads also to the realization that one’s own fantasies, wishes and conflicts experienced within a setting of the “average expectable environment” could also produce a variety of problems. Given the multiplicity of factors potentially involved in determining one’s experiences and reactions, the question of causal relationship between events and after-effects had to be dealt with carefully and sometimes with specialized techniques which make possible the bringing of unconscious fantasies into the conscious sphere.


Human Psyche Plea Bargaining Magical Thinking Neurotic Symptom Overwhelming Event 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Krystal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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