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October 1961

Pathology of the Concentration Camp Syndrome: Preliminary Report

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Social Medicine (Head: Professor Axel Ström, M.D.) and the Department of Neurology (Head: Professor S. Refsum, M.D.) of the University Hospital (Rikshospitalet), Oslo, Norway.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(4):371-379. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710160051006

The Background  In 1952 a group of Danish researchers6 published an extensive report concerning famine disease in German concentration camps, its complications and sequels with special reference to tuberculosis, mental disorders, and social consequences. Their work was mainly based on a medical and social examination of about 1,300 Danes who had survived internment in German concentration camps during World War II. The investigations were made between 1947 and 1951.About 75% of the investigated ex-prisoners stated that they had had, or still had, neurotic symptoms of varying degrees of severity after their repatriation. The vast majority of these were well-known unspecific neurastheniform symptoms. Other mental disorders were rare. The neurastheniform symptoms were uniform. The same complaints were repeated from person to person, although the symptoms varied in intensity and relative importance. The most frequent symptoms found by the Danish authors were restlessness, excessive

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