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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 21 (1979) 1, 221 - 231

Korte bijdrage

Reacties van recruten t.a.v. hun in-observatiestelling in een neuro-psychiatrische instelling

W. Aerts, L. Lagrou

W. Aerts and L. Lagrou: Impact on military recruits of an observation sojourn in a psychiatrie hospital of the army
All Belgian males have to participate in a program of medical and psychological examinations at the Recruiting- and Selection Center of the Army before starting compulsary military service. Subjects with psychiatric of psychological symptoms are referred to a neuro-psychiatric hospital of the Army for more specialised and careful screening. Approximately 50 percent of these referrals are admitted to military service. The medical staff of the Army invited the Center for Community Psychology to undertake an exploratory study to evaluate the impact of a sojourn of 3 to 14 days in the neuropsychiatric ward on the self-image of the subjects involved. Taking into account the results of the study they would consider modifications of the procedure in order to reduce the stigmatising and damaging effects. The researcher participated in the program as a participant observer and interviewed 50 subjects. The analysis of the interviews indicate discomfort and anxiety by lack of information on the results of the medical and psychological examinations. Psychological tests are experienced as rather irrelevant and threatening. Subjects avoid to communicate with fellow-recruits about symptoms and diagnoses. They try to control information about their sojourn to the outside world. Most threatening are evaluations by peers and friends. To these they justify their sojourn substituting psychiatric antecedents by somatic symptoms. Close relatives as parents, wives and fiancées, are informed more honestly. Nevertheless the sojourn in the psychiatric ward might also be threatening to these intimate relations because it forces them to admit psychiatric antecedents that up to then were covered up.