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[This account is from "Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse: Implications for clinical practice", p. 300.]

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Case Report

One of us (S.B.) was asked to see an otherwise healthy middle-aged man who presented to a neurology unit with severe pain and 'locking' of his back. Extensive investigation failed to produce an explanation and a psychiatric view was sought. The man denied any current problems and asserted that his job and marriage were unusually trouble-free. He was somewhat evasive about his earlier history and claimed to have a memory gap of several years.

Pentothal abreaction was attempted and was 'dramatically successful' in that he recounted a period of sustained terror as he and his small Royal Air Force wireless section retreated in Burma and found themselves behind the Japanese lines. He was on solitary guard duty as they continued to move towards the British lines when he dropped off into an exhausted sleep. He suddenly awoke behind a bush to see all of his companions being bayoneted by the Japanese. He tried to cry out but had no voice and when he tried to stand up his back locked. Subsequently he wandered in the jungle until found by a patrol and evacuated to India.

This provided an adequate psychopathology including survivor guilt. Unfortunately when this explanation was offered to his wife she pointed out that he had never served in the Royal Air Force. He had enlisted in the army but was discharged as unsuitable during his basic training. He had never been out of England.

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