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G., R. (1946). Readjusting With the Returning Servicemen: Proceedings of the Institute; under the auspices of and published by The Illinois Society for Mental Hygiene. Chicago: 1945. 156 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 15:257-258.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 15:257-258

Readjusting With the Returning Servicemen: Proceedings of the Institute; under the auspices of and published by The Illinois Society for Mental Hygiene. Chicago: 1945. 156 pp.

Review by:
R. G.

This is a symposium in which a dozen physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, an employment manager and a professor of education participate in a laudably earnest effort doomed by the limitations imposed in all attempts to build practical plans around a theoretical abstraction. One reads with a mounting sense of frustration to page fifty-five of this booklet where Dr. Therese Benedek's admonition, 'We must not think of the veterans as a group apart but treat them rather as the individuals they are', sharply dispels the accumulating fog of generalities.

That there is a problem, and a vast one, no one should deny. In terms of dollars alone estimates based on the cash outlay for psychiatric casualties of World War I exceed the national income a few years hence.

Yielding to the temptation to make some sweeping generalizations of his own without risking direct contradiction, this reviewer believes, on the basis of his observations, that the average chronically neurotic veteran first lost a battle with his mother who libidinized his infantile passive cravings to a degree that made him an anxious liability in whatever pursuit he singled out. Military service, mounting separation anxiety, neurotic illness, long hospitalization, provide the unconscious fantasy for an ego-syntonic subsidization by the politically maternal Veterans Bureau of the now fixed regression and overwhelming passivity. The disease here originates in the family.

A quite different psychopathological reaction which invites generalization is provided by numerous returning veterans who have strong feelings of hostility and resentment towards civilians. These servicemen are relatively mature and well-integrated personalities, in contrast to the neurotic structure of the personality of the chronic veteran, and the prognosis is reasonably good. Typically, they feel isolated and out of place, irritable and contemptuously critical of the citizens at home.

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