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December 15, 1951

DENIAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF AIR ATTACKS

Author Affiliations

(Former Chief, Psychological Branch, Netherlands Army) 162 W. 54th St., New York.

JAMA. 1951;147(16):1594-1595. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670330086031

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Abstract

To the Editor:  —In his article "Nature of Air Raid Casualties" (J. A. M. A.147:858 [Oct. 27] 1951), Dr. Cortez F. Enloe finds it questionable to take protective measures such as psychiatric first-aid stations in case of impending catastrophe. I must contradict this statement and its dangerous implications on the basis of personal experiences. His statement is only relatively true, so far as the immediate impact of initial bombing does not show increase of psychotic reactions. However, this is dependent on the kind of population, the training and preparation of the population, and the skillful training of physicians and psychiatrists to face those catastrophic circumstances. We may expect the following types of reactions:

  1. Anticipatory Fear Reactions.—Rumors, false alarms, and bad organization of civilian defense may provoke all kinds of panicky reactions. The experiences during the Orson Welles' panic after his broadcast on the "Invasion by Mars" must be

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