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March 1946

COMBAT NEUROSESDevelopment of Combat Exhaustion

Author Affiliations


Arch NeurPsych. 1946;55(3):236-247. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1946.02300140067004

IN World War II the neuroses which result from combat have been designated as "combat exhaustion." This terminology implies two fundamental things: First, these neuroses are due primarily to combat, and, second, they develop after a period of combat sufficiently long to produce a significant degree of exhaustion.1 Through misunderstanding many people use the term indiscriminately, and confusion has arisen; they include under this head the neuroses which develop during the first few days of combat, and even the disorders of behavior of men who have never experienced actual combat. The usefulness of this term in distinguishing the more stable and willing from the unstable and unwilling personalities is thereby lost. This is unfortunate, since a substantial percentage of men are of the former type and have broken down under conditions of continuous long and severe stress which infrequently, if ever, obtained before. The number of early breakdowns has