Journal Published Online: 01 November 1998
Volume 43, Issue 6

Dangerous Misidentification of People Due to Flashback Phenomena in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder



Misidentification of people may occur in a number of psychiatric disorders associated with delusional thinking. Misidentification of people may also occur in the context of visual flashback phenomena associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. People who misidentify someone during a flashback associated with previous war combat experience may perceive and conceptualize the misidentified object as an enemy who may be both feared and disliked. This might make the misidentified objects become the targets of violent attacks by the affected person. In this article we present five cases of flashback-induced misidentification of people who were subsequently attacked within the context of the flashback experience. The nature of the misidentification of persons due to flashback experiences is discussed. The association between the type of misidentification and aggression is also discussed.

Author Information

Silva, JA
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Clinical/Education Division, Palo Alto Veterans Health Care System, Menlo Park Division, Palo Alto, CA
Leong, GB
Mental Health & Behavioral Science Service, Veterans Affairs Outpatiet Clinic, Columbus, OH
Harry, BE
University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, Columbia, MO
Ronan, J
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, TX
Weinstock, R
West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Pages: 5
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Stock #: JFS14370J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS14370J