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November 1973

Traumatic Neuroses in Vietnam ReturneesA Forgotten Diagnosis?

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles
From the Brentwood VA Hospital (Drs. Van Putten and Emory), and the UCLA School of Medicine (Dr. Van Putten), Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(5):695-698. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200050100017

Traumatic neuroses of war in Vietnam returnees are frequently overlooked. Vietnam returnees, because they reject authority and mistrust institutions, come to the Veterans Administration only out of desperation. Often, they come years after discharge from service and after ineffective trials of psychotherapy in the community.

Explosive aggressivity, "flashbacks" of combat scenes, and phobic elaborations about the world as an unbearably hostile place have led to such misdiagnoses as psychomotor epilepsy, LSD abuse, or schizophrenia.

The misdiagnosis of schizophrenia may lead to long-term phenothiazine treatment, rather than appropriate psychotherapy.