Battle Neurosis and PTSD–“Let There Be Light”

A John Huston Film on WWII Vets Recovering From PTSD

While serving with the U.S. Army Photographic Unit during World War II, John Huston made three documentaries. In 1945, he filmed “Let There Be Light,” the third and final one in the series.

It was one of the first movies that documented what was then called Battle Neurosis and Combat Psychosis, diagnoses that would later be labeled Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1980. When shown to the Army brass, the film was yanked and not allowed to be shown to the public for 35 years. This is a moving film that follows a group of combat vets from admittance to recovery.

Watch the Full Film Here (60 minutes)


Hypnosis, combined with psychotherapy and group therapy, was the main treatment. We now know of better ways to treat trauma and PTSD, particularly using somatic-based therapies, such as Somatic Experiencing®.

Following this movie, I’ve posted a short interview by Clete Roberts with John Houston, who talks about the reaction of the Army to his film.

Clete Roberts Interviews John Huston (10 minutes)


If you follow the links to YouTube, you will find the movie broken down into 7 parts.

I’m grateful to Misako Miyagawa for bringing this historically important film to my attention.

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