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Normal and Pathological Reactions to Severe. Stress: Their Features and Management
  1. David A Alexander, Professor1
  1. 1Department of Mental Health, University Medical Buildings, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD{at}


It is unethical and incompetent to deny the scale and nature of human reactions to trauma. Those who provide care for victims of trauma should be familiar with normal and pathological reactions following trauma and know how to identify those at high risk of developing adverse reactions and problems of adjustment.

Methods of treating and preventing post-traumatic conditions have not been evaluated with sufficient rigour. There are, however, some guiding principles to ensure a rational approach to the management of victims of trauma.

I can sympathise with everything, except suffering. I cannot sympathise with that. It is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing… the less said about life’s sores the better.

(The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1856–1900)

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