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This monograph was originally published in paperback by the Government Printing Office, as
Experiences in the North African and Mediterranean
Compiled and Edited
From the Historical Division, Office of the Surgeon General. This manuscript was prepared as part of the history of the Medical Department, U. S. Army, in World War II.
Its other authors were Benjamin Boshes, Calvin S. Dreyer, Clifford O. Erickson, Albert J. Glass, James A. Halstead, Alfred O. Ludwig, Stephen W. Ranson, Raymond Sobel, Martin Stein, Louis L. Tureen and Edwin A. Weinstein. All were AUS except for Glass and Ranson, both of whom were Regular Army. This became of significance because all of the participants left the Army when the war was over, leaving Glass as their only military spokesman.
"Combat Psychiatry" speaks for itself.
Nothing said - nothing written - can in even the remotest degree depict the terrible reality that is Military Armed Combat. While writing about it has intrigued many skilled authors, few have come even close to transferring combat's actualities into literature. True, experienced authors are not likely to be placed in combat roles. The men-of-action who do engage in the actual horror of military combat have not produced a classical literature.
However, a group-effort has produced the only genuine classic in the field. Eleven psychiatrists with extensive experience in the treatment of psychiatric patients under combat conditions were brought together by Frederick R. Hanson in February 1943 and asked to write on the subjects most familiar to them. Most psychiatrists are skilled at dealing with the wholeness of their patients, including the effects of the environment upon their symptoms, so the result, published in 1949, turned out to be a genuine classic. In this case "classic" is used to designate a literary effort that is totally unique, more accurate and useful than any other, derived from the actual experiences of a group of genuine experts gathered together by circumstance, and so well done that it fully deserves the attention of all professional military.
Regrettably, the U. S. Army has a history of forgetting what it has learned in past wars about the psychiatric behavior of soldiers introduced to combat. The reasons for such an outstanding defect in training and preparation are no doubt psychiatric and related to the terrible facts of combat - the facts of which are al too easily forgotten. This forgetting factor, however, does great harm to a military effort, rendering it unprepared to deal with the totality of combat's realities and so bogged down by the accompanying futilities that it may lose sight of its mission. Such factors led to Eisenhower's famous administrative order in 1943 which prevented return of psychiatric casualties to the U. S. mainland.
These lessons are far too important to ever be forgotten again. They must be an intrinsic part of military training. This little book gathers together - all in one place - all the psychiatric lessons that an officer needs to know. It is so important that it should have a permanent place on every officer's desk.