Reviews

User reviews

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Original and insightful ,revelatory about both Achilles and Vietnam Veterans

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I was a US navy combat surgeon with the marine bns, 2/26, 1/9, and 3/3 and then was medevaced from the field of combat on sept 11, 1967. I happened to read Dr shay's book and found the concrete comparisons to the causative factors on page 152 in his book.
terror and helplessness, many time we lacked blood transfusions and necessary other supplies in treating the wounded maries.
loss of communication with all others outside combat:: I had no girlfriend, had two other older bros who said it was my duty to serve in the Vietnam war, my mother was a victim of "tough love" very little understanding there
renunciation, loss or destruction of symbolic tokens of connection to others: an absolute depersonalization of yourself as some patients died even though you did your best to save their lives.
inconsistent , unpredictable, capricious, and violent enforcement of rules: I remember being called in to the division surgeons officer stating that I had to be with 400 marines as they marched single file up and down valleys, flatlands right below the DMZ when the previous BN surgeon wasn't required of him. I protested with a letter to his replacement that there was no need for me to be doing that, he agreed.::
threats to close comrades::: I was often a "sounding board for marines, who stated that they were threatened with death, if they fell asleep on post duty, failed to secure marijuana for smoking
Debilitation by sleep deprivation, etc::: many time I had to triage 18-20 hrs without rest, because we didn't have adequate personnel
Vilation of one's own principles::: I can remember the colonel of one battalion, telling the lts, officer, "tell your men to kill anything that moves, God will sort them out later, or the chaplain saying Remember you are killing Commies for Christ, by a catholic chaplain, how bizarre. I thot of the Nazi doctrines of WW-2, ruthless killing of people for no reason!!!
participation in immoral,disgusting, or illegal practices::: mutilation of the dead VC or NVA, penises being put into the mouth of the dead, ears cutoff, rape of village women, rewarding body counts with R an R,s, rest periods to Hawaii, or other places like Hong Kong. jpmiller, MD usn
 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Psychology is not a new field. For millennia, writers have attempted to capture some aspect of human nature. In fact, one might say that the ability to resonate with humanity is what makes writing good and causes it to endure. So what does that say about the foundational literature of the Western world? Quite a lot, according to this book.
In _Achilles in Vietnam_, Dr. Jonathan Shay, Psychiatrist at the Boston VA, has applied his professional experience working with Vietnam veterans and his love of classic literature.
Though Dr. Shay says very little about PTSD that is new or earth shattering (and now, the book is actually technically out of date, since he relies on the DSM-III-R, and work on DSM-V is well underway), he does present a new perspective on the events of Homer's tragic epic. He also manages to bring in Shakespeare's Henry IV to solidify his point that PTSD is nothing new. Overall, this book is interesting for anybody who enjoys the classics or just wants to enjoy a broader reading of Homer.
The real payoff, though, is in the way he confronts some of the current practices of the United States Armed Forces, many of which actually exacerbate the trauma of those serving in the military. Sadly, his warnings have fallen on deaf ears, and the same destructive practices causing problems for our Vietnam veterans are in play now and are in the process of destroying another generation of soldiers. This book will be more and more relevant as soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan come back home.
 

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
0
1 star
0

All reviews - 10
3 stars - 0
2 stars - 0
1 star - 0

All reviews - 10
Editorial reviews - 0

All reviews - 10
Kirkus - 1