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Brief Psychotherapy of Psychiatric Reactions to Physical Illness
EDWARD H. STEIN; JESSICA MURDAUGH; JOHN A. MACLEOD
Am J Psychiatry 1969;125:1040-1047.
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Chief, department of psychiatry, U. S. Army Hospital, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana

Social work consultant, Visiting Nurses Association of the Cincinnati Area

Associate professor of psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

1968-69, American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Physical illness or trauma often leads to psychiatric complications sufficiently complex to require psychotherapeutic intervention. The authors have found brief psychotherapy to be especially suitable in such cases. They emphasize three techniques they have found to be useful: 1) a focus upon denial as the primary defense; 2) attention to the narcissistic injury which is so frequently created by the illness or trauma; and 3) exploration of the patient's cognitive understanding of the illness, with a particular search for cognitive blocks that retard recovery until detected and resolved. A case report is presented to illustrate these techniques.

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