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May 3, 1965


JAMA. 1965;192(5):412-413. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080180070024

Three centuries ago George Herbert wrote, "When war begins, then Hell openeth." Evidence accumulates to prove that, hell having opened, it closeth not at the armistice. Two communications in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry report additional data on the longevity of psychic trauma suffered during World War II.

The damaging psychological effect of combat was widely recognized, particularly during the latter part of the war. Archibald and Tuddenham1 suggest that there is a syndrome of persistent stress reaction, which is clearly differentiable from transient reactions. The authors studied 157 subjects, of whom 62 made up the World War II and 15 the Korean War combat-fatigue groups. The other subjects included a number of veterans with psychiatric diagnoses not related to combat, as well as some veterans who were not patients, did not show the stress syndrome, and had apparently made an adequate postwar adjustment.