The acute traumatic moment - Psychic trauma in war: Psychoanalytic perspectives

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4 Scopus citations


The acute traumatic moment is defined as the sudden conscious awareness of intense and devastating feelings of helplessness to cope before the fear of injury and death. The sudden overwhelming of three processes often precipitates the acute traumatic moment: (1) the ego ideal with specific narcissistic defenses associated with the idealized self, (2) the illusion of safety; and (3) the mechanisms of denial. The author discusses the developmental origins of the illusion of safety, rational and irrational contributions to its configuration, and its importance as a psychological construct in the life of the individual soldier. The author examines the acute traumatic moment as it may occur upon exposure to threats of injury and death during war from a psychoanalytic perspective. Clinical vignettes of soldiers are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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