Critical Insights Into PTSD Based on Vietnam War Classic

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., July 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — PTSD Press announced the release of the much-anticipated SERGEANT BACK AGAIN—THE ANTHOLOGY of Critical and Clinical Commentary, Volume One. THE ANTHOLOGY ( contains the first collection of published critical and clinical writings regarding the earliest characterizations and manifestations of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on and off the battlefield using a Vietnam novel as the catalyst for investigation, discussion, and analysis.

Focusing on the central characters and actions dramatized in Charles Coleman’s universally-acclaimed portrayal of PTSD embodied in his Vietnam War-era cult classic, Sergeant Back Again (re-released in 2010), six highly-respected scholars, historians, and psychiatrists “weigh in” on the social, political, and medical aspects and consequences of the emergence of post-traumatic stress disorder during the Vietnam War Era and later manifested in troops returning from Iraq and now Afghanistan. It also sheds light on the reasons behind the escalation of veteran suicides, divorces, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and homelessness.

This is clearly a first in deconstructing the causes and effects of PTSD on U.S. Servicemen and women (with the formal diagnosis of PTSD having been first published by the psychiatric leadership in this country in 1980), based on the case of Specialist Andrew Collins, a line medic and later a surgical specialist who served in Vietnam. It puts Sergeant Back Again into perspective as “The Vietnam War novel that made PTSD Real!” (Philip Beidler, Ph.D.)

Skillfully analyzing scenes on the battlefield, the surgical unit and into the closed wards of Chambers Psychiatric Pavilion at Fort Sam Houston and the psychological milieu of both the patients and staff during 1970, psychiatrist Harold Kudler, M.D. explores the military medical establishment’s dilemma in trying to understand veterans returning from Vietnam and the attempts to classify and “treat” them in both the “old” conventional language of psychiatry and the bio-medical vocabulary in which “psychiatrists could no longer see the person under their care. Now, thirty years after arriving at a definition of PTSD based on the surface of behavior, Psychiatry is still struggling to see beyond abstractions in order to find the patients it left behind and the real heart of darkness that defines psychological trauma.”

“One sees now in [Sergeant Back Again] a story we probably recognized but did not know at the time [1980] how to read, at least in its newest, challenging, creative iteration,” states Vietnam combat veteran and historian Philip Beidler, Ph.D. “But its uniqueness is its attempt to speak in a bold literary way about an emergent, newly-identified, peculiarly war-related form of psychological trauma increasingly associated with representations of Vietnam veterans’ attempts to deal with war-related experiences and memory.”

Additional commentary in The Anthology is provided by George Kearns, John Presley, Ph.D., Nathan Beck, and Tony Williams, Ph.D.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply