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September 1973

The Pueblo IncidentA Comparison of Factors Related to Coping With Extreme Stress

Author Affiliations

USN, Torrance, Calif
From the Neuropsychiatric Service, Naval Hospital, San Diego, Calif. Dr. Ford is currently with the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, Harbor General Hospital, Torrance, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(3):340-343. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200030038005

The 82 surviving crew members of the USS Pueblo were evaluated psychiatrically after their release from 11 months of imprisonment in North Korea. A group of men defined as coping with the stress well was compared to a group who tolerated it poorly. Men who did well had personality diagnoses often listed as "healthy" or schizoid. They tended to use a wide variety of ego-defense mechanisms, particularly faith, reality testing, denial, rationalization, and humor. Men in the group defined as handling the stress poorly were frequently diagnosed as being passive-dependent and were more limited in the number of ego-defense mechanisms utilized. Factors such as age, education, and length of military service were not significant in differentiating between the two groups.