Girlfriend Killed in My Presence. Was My Behavior Insane?

Reader’s Question

I fought in Afghanistan alongside my girlfriend of 3 years. She was killed in front of me last year. It was just her and I because we were seperated from the group. I don’t know what made me do it, but while we were waiting for help and everything was quiet again I made love to her. I knew she was gone. I don’t know what came over me. I have been in deep depression after everything. I hate to think that what I did was necrophilia. It makes me feel sick. I was just wondering if you could explain to me what happened in my head. I just wanted to keep her close to me. Wanted to make her better. I’m nuts aren’t I?

Psychologist’s Reply

There’s no such thing as “normal behavior” in a combat situation. Combine the horrors of combat with having your sweetheart killed in your presence and you have an emotional overload — a blown fuse in your personality. History tells us that normal, healthy people do very unusual things during such profound emotional trauma, especially in situations or environments where “normal” life is absent. This isn’t necrophilia and it isn’t insanity — a type of stress-produced temporary insanity maybe. This experience will create Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression however. The Emotional Memory (see article on this website) of the event will be severe. I would recommend that you seek mental health treatment for this entire experience, not just the specific incident. You have been overloaded with stress — combat, death of your sweetheart in your presence, etc. Treatment is the top priority at this time. Like many combat vets, you’ll be dealing with your combat experience for many years.

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