Abstract IN World War II the neuroses which result from combat have been designated as "combat exhaustion." This terminology implies two fundamental things: First, these neuroses are due primarily to combat, and, second, they develop after a period of combat sufficiently long to produce a significant degree of exhaustion.1 Through misunderstanding many people use the term indiscriminately, and confusion has arisen; they include under this head the neuroses which develop during the first few days of combat, and even the disorders of behavior of men who have never experienced actual combat. The usefulness of this term in distinguishing the more stable and willing from the unstable and unwilling personalities is thereby lost. This is unfortunate, since a substantial percentage of men are of the former type and have broken down under conditions of continuous long and severe stress which infrequently, if ever, obtained before. The number of early breakdowns has References 1. Hereafter in this paper the designation "combat exhaustion" implies that these two factors are present. 2. These diets are recognized as having low thiamine contents, and it has been recommended that they be supplemented with foods rich in vitamins if consumed for longer than five days ("Messing in the ETO," prepared by the Office of Chief Quartermaster, Headquarters, Services of Supply, European Theater of Operations of the United States Army, February 1944). 3. This seemed true when this paper was written, in November 1944. Since then we have concluded that all normal men eventually suffer combat exhaustion in prolonged continuous and severe combat. The exceptions to this rule are psychotic soldiers, and a number of examples of this have been observed.
Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry – American Medical Association
Published: Mar 1, 1946