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April 1974

Incidence of Maladjustment in Vietnam Returnees

Author Affiliations

From the Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center and the Department of Psychiatry of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr. Borus was at the Department of Psychiatry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC, when these data were collected.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(4):554-557. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760100104016

A prospective cohort study of the incidence of reported maladjustment in Vietnam returnees during their first seven months back in the United States is presented. Indexes of disciplinary-legal and emotional maladjustment for population of Vietnam veterans (N=577) and nonveterans (N=172) entering the same Army unit at a garrison post in late 1970 were tabulated and compared.

Only 23% of the veterans showed indexes of either type of maladjustment, and the incidence of veteran maladjustment was not significantly different than that of nonveterans. These findings contrast sharply with more subjective overgeneralized reports, from uncontrolled studies, of widespread Vietnam veteran maladjustment and suggest the need for controlled quantitative longitudinal studies of Vietnam veteran readjustment.

From my experience and the recent literature on Vietnam veterans, some observations are made on psychiatric research in the political arena.