News Pioneer of PTSD Dies Aged 86

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Neal Daniels, 86, one of the first psychologists to treat Vietnam veterans for posttraumatic stress disorder and a passionate antiwar activist, died at his West Philadelphia home Thursday of kidney failure.

A member of the Philadelphia chapter of Veterans For Peace, Dr. Daniels hosted meetings at his home, and helped organize demonstrations in Philadelphia and Washington against the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. He last marched in 2004.

"His strength was in his quiet wisdom. He would not shout others down... . He was the reflective, wise counsel that the louder ones fell back on," said John Grant, president of the local chapter of Veterans For Peace. "He was opposed to war in general, and Vietnam and Iraq in particular."

In 1981, after the psychiatric community officially recognized posttraumatic stress syndrome, Dr. Daniels was hired by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Philadelphia to head a team of doctors to treat victims. Symptoms include depression, isolation, anger, alienation, nightmares or obsessive memories and guilt for having survived.

"He was the first doctor to use the eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing technique on Vietnam veterans," said Frank Trotta, a psychologist who worked with Dr. Daniels at the VA hospital.

Using hand movements, Dr. Daniels put patients in a dreamlike state that allowed them to recall traumatic incidents during combat. Once there, doctor and patient would talk about feelings that the patient had bottled up.

During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Dr. Daniels treated Vietnam veterans who sought counseling because that war triggered past traumas.

"They may have had these symptoms anyway, but they have worsened," Dr. Daniels said in a 1991 Inquirer story about the Vietnam vets. "They think about it all the time."

He remained at the VA hospital until retiring in 1997.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Daniels is survived by daughters Valery Daniels Knox and Leslie Daniels; and four grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for early May.

Source: Philly
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