Diagnosis and Treatment of Survivor Guilt

The Bad Penny Syndrome
  • Tom Williams
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


After seeing over 2,000 trauma victims, it appears to me that the ones who do not improve in treatment are those who have not resolved their survivor guilt. At the Post-Trauma Treatment Center, we call this the “bad penny syndrome,” because these clients tend to return to treatment periodically and do not seem to resolve their traumatic experiences. The DSM-III omits survivor guilt as a diagnostic criterion because some believe that it does not fit with psychically reliving behavioral symptoms or autonomic responses, but many clinicians working with trauma groups report that some form of survivor guilt is indeed a major concern for both diagnosis and treatment of trauma survivors.


Rape Victim Trauma Victim Vietnam Veteran Elephant Grass Trauma Survivor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Post-Trauma Treatment CenterAuroraUSA

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