More than 3000 consultations in an Army hospital directed my attention to syndromes which were characterized by depressive or aggressive moods and a type of thinking which seemed to be dominated by certain ideas and in fluid transition into paranoid thinking. The rapid succession of one consultation after the other did not permit to study these unusually frequent syndromes more in detail. It was not until I was assigned to another Army hospital that I could do so—at least to a certain degree.
In that other Army hospital approximately 300 officer patients were observed, in groups of 70 to 90, over periods from 2 to 3 months. I could interview each one at least once a week and observe their behavior in daily contact on the hospital grounds. About one third of them were afflicted with the syndromes which I have mentioned. Their records showed that their premorbid personalities had been socially well adjusted.
They were college students, businessmen, engineers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, teachers, regular Army officers. They had no history of psychosis or of previous major neurotic disturbances, no history of violated law or decency, no history of previous excessive drinking or of some other socially unacceptable behavior. Their civilian and military achievements had been good, in part excellent.
From a certain, mostly unspecified period of their overseas and combat service on—difficulties began to creep in on them gradually. No specific traumatic events were recorded. Whatever complaints and accusations they, themselves, had to make will be described together with their disturbances which were observed in our hospital. At this point of summarizing chronologically the development of their difficulties it suffice to report that our patients were not easily thrown off their old balance by their never anticipated war experiences. They struggled for weeks, some of them for months, with their growing conflicts and (for them) unsolvable problems. Thus preoccupied they suffered from increasing disturbances of concentration and memory. Quick decisions in emergencies became impossible.
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