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Article
February 4, 1974

War Atrocities in Vietnam

JAMA. 1974;227(5):554. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230180052016

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Abstract

From the time of recorded history, wars have had their share of atrocities. Never before, however, have United States military engagements received such publicity about atrocities committed by our troops during the long campaign in Vietnam. Although the heavy bombings by US forces undoubtedly took their toll of innocents, such acts were impersonal when compared to an incident like the one at My Lai.

In the current issue of Archives of General Psychiatry (30:191-196, 1974) Haley reports her experience, beginning in 1969, of evaluating 130 Vietnam-duty veterans for psychotherapy. Forty of the men reported responsibility for atrocious acts, ranging from those provoked during the intensity of combat to sadistic brutality unrelated to any immediate external threat. She makes a sharp distinction between the psychological effects on men guilty of atrocities and the depression that characterized the traumatic war neurosis observed in veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict.

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