Date of Degree
war, trauma, Vietnam, psychoanalysis, war psychiatry, PTSD
Historically, the psychological wounds of war have been subject to a ritual of emergence and burial. This cycle is multilayered and paralleled in various levels of experience; society, governmental administrations, institutions, families, and individuals. Furthermore, the collective failure to witness the wounds of survivors adds to the cumulative trauma of the soldier. The field of psychoanalysis, originally preoccupied with that which is hidden, also takes part in the massive disavowal of combat stress. Analysts who have revealed war casualties tend to be forgotten, left to suffer the same fate of the grieving soldier. This project focuses on rescuing, contextualizing, critically reviewing, and illustrating the contemporary relevance of Chaim Shatan, one of these hidden voices. A Vietnam-Era psychoanalyst, Shatan’s work was paramount in the psychiatric recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, published in the Third Edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of The American Psychiatric Association in 1980. Shatan worked closely with Vietnam veterans as a psychotherapist, a rap group member, an advocate, and an anti-war colleague. Furthermore, he developed a theory of Vietnam trauma, weaving military madness, personality transfiguration, stoicism, and slaughter. In 1972, he published an Op-Ed titled “The Post-Vietnam Syndrome” in The New York Times, where he outlined several post-war features, such as hyper-alertness, terrors, mistrust, bloodthirstiness, and challenges with intimacy. Scholar, clinician, and activist Shatan not only unveiled military malady, but also permanently changed the way society conceives trauma. Despite his crucial role, Shatan’s name remains unheard of in psychoanalytic circles.
Recarte, Andrea, "Unveiling Chaim Shatan: An Analyst Unveiling War Wounds" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.