Survivor’s syndrome (survivor’s guilt) is a negative psychological response that can be seen in someone who has survived a traumatic or stressful event.


Features of survivor’s guilt:

(1) The person has undergone a stressful or traumatic event (war, plague, cancer, workplace downsizing, etc).

(2) The person has “survived” either literally or figuratively while others have not.

(3) The person feels guilt, depression or dysphoria.

(4) The person associates the negative feelings with the fact s/he survived.


Differential diagnosis: Survivor’s guilt must be distinguished from guilt associated with doing something evil in order to survive. In this case the experience is guilt is tied to a specific behavior, not to survival itself.


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