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Murray, J.M. (1944). The Syndrome of Operational Fatigue in Flyers. Psychoanal Q., 13:407-417.

(1944). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 13:407-417

The Syndrome of Operational Fatigue in Flyers

John M. Murray

War is creating new psychiatric problems. One sees frequently in this war what might be called 'short term neuroses', which arise quickly, respond rapidly to treatment and show a relatively quick recovery. The mechanisms underlying the symptoms are not as yet satisfactorily worked out and it would be premature to attempt any exact formulation of the unconscious dynamics, but the material brought to light during the short term treatment of neurotic symptoms arising under the stress of battle may well answer old questions and raise many difficult new ones.

Neuroses which arise as a result of war experiences show the same basic elements as those of civilian practice, but they have a number of essential differences that do not fit well into current diagnostic categories. Civilian neuroses are reasonably predictable—one may safely say what will happen in the future to a given case; but the war neurosis is different. It arises quickly in the so-called normal person. In a previous paper it was stated: 'In the evaluation of these conditions, there are always two considerations—both old acquaintances of all psychiatrists—the internal conflicts and tensions present in the individual's unconscious emotional life and the powerful external forces which play upon them in the battle situation. Some men break with a minimum of trauma, while others who have a severe preëxisting neurosis never openly crack, though earlier predictions might have said they would be the first to do so. Army life and combat seem to fulfil important emotional needs and thereby to stabilize these individuals.

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