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Traumatic War Neurosis and Phenelzine

Hanna Levenson, PhD; Richard Lanman, MD; Michael Rankin, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(11):1345. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290110093018.
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To the Editor.  —In their article (Archives 1981;38:440-445), Hogben and Cornfield reported favorable therapeutic responses with phenelzine sulfate in five patients with traumatic war neurosis. The patients had suffered from severe attacks of panic, frightening nightmares, flashbacks, outbursts of aggression, and deteriorating social functioning for up to 30 years. After initiation of pharmacotherapy, each patient felt much calmer, nightmares stopped, and flashbacks were reduced. The authors observed that phenelzine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, "seemed to enhance an intense abreaction that had not been achieved in earlier therapies with or without psychotropic medication" (p 444). Before treatment, the patients had rarely discussed their war experiences, and when they did so it was without affect, except for intense anxiety. With phenelzine, however, the patients expressed intense rage and anger and associated many war memories with these intense feelings.After reading the Archives article and consulting other sources, we decided to give phenelzine


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