Wizard 6: A Combat Psychiatrist in Vietnam

Wizard 6 describes my tour of duty as a psychiatrist assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam during 1969 and 1970. It was another existence. We referred to home as the world. ...As with any combat environment, there was the irony of military psychiatrists helping men adjust to a crazy place. In 1969 six psychiatrists were assigned to combat divisions in Vietnam, charged with treating soldiers showing psychiatric symptoms in order to get them back into battle. Doug Bey, whose radio call name in the 1st Infantry Division was Wizard 6, was one of those psychiatrists. Drawing on graphic detail gleaned from a journal Bey transcribed when he got back stateside, this psychiatric specialist describes the daily life of a military support unit, the boredom and mind-numbing routine, but also the social issues and psychiatric crises he confronted. In Vietnam he treated people with a range of coping mechanisms, including counter phobic reactions, self-medication with drugs and alcohol, and gross stress reaction, as well as the gamut of psychiatric illnesses. Each month Bey and his staff saw some four hundred men, including characters like the Vietnam equivalent of Klinger from Mash, a killer dentist, soldiers addicted to killing, and others who did not want to go home. He witnessed firsthand black pride, Vietnamese prejudice, racial conflict, and the Viet Cong's fear of mental illness. Bey's book provides a rare and powerful account that views the immediacy of combat from the perspective of thirty-five years in psychiatric practice and extensive study of combat and post-combat psychology. Wizard 6 offers new perspectives on the Vietnam war and its aftermath and draws cautious comparisons with the issues today's troops may face both in the field and when they return home.