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Stress Response: The Psychological Risks (From Treating Police Stress: The Work and the Words of Peer Counselors, P 150-164, 2002, John M. Madonna, Jr. and Richard E. Kelly, -- See NCJ-197081)

NCJ Number
John Madonna
Date Published
15 pages
This chapter identifies differences in police officers' reactions to traumatic incidents and discusses the necessity for peer counselors to be aware of these differences in critical incident debriefings, as well as how the counselors themselves are reacting to the emotional states of the officer being debriefed.
In conducting critical incident stress debriefings, peer counselors must not only be familiar with the usual stress symptoms, but also have the knowledge and experience required to identify those reactions that are specific to the personality type of the affected officer. The counselor will then be in a better position to intervene in ways that take into account individual differences in personality and, sometimes, inherent psychopathology. This chapter identifies some individual differences in responding to stress. A complicating reaction to stress occurs in histrionic personalities who experience conversion reactions (bodily manifestations to psychological repressed conflict in the form of psychogenic paralysis), anxiety attacks, or dissociative episodes. The challenge for the counselor is to keep the affected officer with hysterical traits focused on the more manageable ramifications of the trauma rather than to regress into the heightened hysterical defense. Another problem arises with an affected officer who has an obsessive-compulsive personality. This involves being irrationally compelled to action. It is difficult for the obsessional person to receive help, because to do so tends to evoke the sense of weakness. This chapter also discusses the narcissistic person who has difficulty accepting personal weakness and vulnerability. The counselor must be prepared to meet the idiosyncratic needs and patterns of resistance of each individual. This, combined with the counselor's awareness of his/her own personality style and the vulnerabilities associated with it, is also crucial if the responder is to avoid regressive, resonant stress inductions that are so often a result of interaction with those in crisis. 4 references and appended diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, hysteria encounter profile, the obsessional encounter profile, and the narcissistic encounter profile