Dutch Newspapers on War Victims and Their LSD-treatment by Jan Bastiaans: From KZ-syndrome to PTSD

In the 1960s, it became clear that survivors of the concentration camps had developed psychological complaints. They were diagnosed with KZ-syndrome.

Dutch psychiatrist Jan Bastiaans used LSD in his psychotherapeutic sessions with KZ-syndrome sufferers, who said they greatly benefitted from his treatment. This was, despite criticism from medical professionals, enough proof for journalists, regardless of their signature, to defend the drug’s usage. Without the newspapers, LSD probably would have disappeared quickly as a medical tool.

Over time, paradoxically, the cause-related diagnosis KZ-syndrome came to encompass more than just Holocaust survivors: soldiers, hostages, survivors of the Japanese camps, and the children of Dutch national socialists were all eventually included within the concept. It resulted in an enormous rise in patient numbers, and a blurring and eventual disappearance of the concept.

This book explores the contribution of Dutch newspapers to the historical-cultural phenomenon of this rising focus on victims and victimhood, without which the later acceptance of PTSD – a symptom-related diagnosis – could not be understood.


Dr Leo van Bergen is a Dutch medical historian mainly working on colonial medicine and war and medicine. Among his many works are Before My Helpless Sight (on medicine and the First World War), A Cap of Horror (poems by WWI nurses), On Humanitarianism and Colonialism (on the Red Cross in the Dutch Indies), and Uncertainty, Anxiety, Frugality (on leprosy in the Dutch Indies). He is also the author of The Introduction of Coronary Care Units (1960-1985): An Unparalleled Triumph, and the co-editor of the journal Medicine, Conflict and Survival.

"Leo van Bergen describes a charismatic clinician with an unshakeable belief in his own position. Indeed, some colleagues thought that his therapeutic success derived from the power of his personality rather than the use of psychedelics. The author presents a nuanced picture of a psychiatrist who brought attention to the psychological needs of camp survivors and those subjected to extreme trauma (recognized today as cases of complex PTSD) but who also alienated the medical profession and parliamentarians, not persuaded by his radical methods. Detailed endnotes and a comprehensive bibliography are provided, together with an index of persons. […] this new study by Leo van Bergen reveals a largely unknown but important episode in the search for effective treatments in the face of a critical profession and suspicious legislature."

Edgar Jones Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK, in Medicine, Conflict and Survival 39(3): 313-315

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-0120-5

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-0120-1

Release Date: 11th April 2023

Pages: 370

Price: £75.99

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