The Burn as a Continuous Traumatic Stress: Implications for Emotional Treatment During Hospitalization

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Abstract

Relating to the patient with burns as being posttraumatic calls for specific guidelines in emotional therapy. But it seems that burn injury differs from other posttraumatic situations in that it confronts the patient with a much more complex situation, including not only the actual burn experience but also the ensuing difficult period of hospitalization and the subsequent renewed encounter with the social environment. That is why we see the patient with burns as suffering from a Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder rather than from a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Although both disorders confront the patient with the same symptoms and with the experience of shattering the stimulus barrier and that of the basic assumptions, like the concept of self, invulnerability, and the world, they still differ in duration of the trauma. This calls for “dos and don'ts” as treatment principles at the time of the hospitalization, which help the patient's ability in coping with the continuous trauma.

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