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Vietnam still haunts the American conscience. Not only did nearly 58,000 Americans die there, but by some estimates 1.5 million veterans returned with war-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This psychological syndrome, responsible for anxiety, depression, and a wide array of social pathologies, is here placed in an historical context. Eric Dean relates the psychological problems of veterans of the Vietnam War to the mental and readjustment problems experienced by veterans of the Civil War. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that merges military, medical, and social history, Dean draws on individual case analyses and quantitative methods to trace the reactions of Civil War veterans to combat and death. He seeks to determine whether exuberant parades in the North and sectional adulation in the South helped to wash away memories of violence for the Civil War veteran. His study reveals that Civil War veterans experienced severe persistent psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and flashbacks with resulting behaviours such as suicide, alcoholism, and domestic violence. By comparing Civil War and Vietnam veterans, Dean demonstrates that Vietnam vets did not suffer exceptionally in the number and degree of their psychiatric illnesses. The politics and culture of the times, Dean argues, were responsible for the claims of singularity for the suffering Vietnam veterans as well as for the development of the modern concept of PTSD.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674806528
ISBN-10: 0674806522
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 18mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 31-Mar-1999
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Erik T. Dean

Eric T. Dean, Jr., is an attorney who has recently been awarded a doctorate in history from Yale University.