The chambers of memory: PTSD in the life stories of U.S. Vietnam veterans
The Vietnam War ended for the United States in the spring of 1973. Yet it goes on in the hearts and minds of surviving combat veterans over a quarter of a century later. They were sent as eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds to a country most had never heard of; they came back with psychic as well as physical wounds, which would never fully heal. Dr. Chalsma, profoundly stirred by his discovery of the therapeutic dynamics of testimony, videotaped the haunted memories of his PTSD patients at the West Haven (CT) VA Hospital. With his support, the men suspend some of the hypervigilance characteristic of prolonged trauma to expose the utter disruption of selfhood that is the legacy of their enduring nightmare. Each struggles individually to make sense of his own psychic landscape of alienation and terror and guilt and shame.
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