M*A*S*H episode
“The Billfold Syndrome”
MASH episode 7x6 - The Billfold Syndrome
When Sgt. Jerry Nielsen, a medic, loses his memory, it's up to Sidney Freedman, who enlists the help of Hawkeye and BJ, to help recreate the scene where Nielsen lost it - at the front, in the episode "The Billfold Syndrome"
Season 7, Episode # 6
Number (#153) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Allan Arbus
Kevin Geer
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: T-405
Writer(s) Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate October 16, 1978
IMDb logo IMDB The Billfold Syndrome
Episode chronology
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"Our Finest Hour" (T‑408, T‑409) "None Like it Hot" (T‑410)

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"Commander Pierce" (T‑404) "Lil" (T‑406)

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Season 7 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes


The Billfold Syndrome, was the sixth episode of Season 7  of the M*A*S*H TV series, also the 153rd overall series episode. The episode, which was written by Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Larry Balmagia, Ronny Graham, and David Lawrence, was directed by Burt Metcalfe. The episode originally aired on CBS-TV on October 16, 1978.


Charles becomes so irate when he is turned down for a future medical position at home that he refuses to talk to anyone in the unit until Hawkeye and B.J. send him a false telegram from home. Meanwhile, a young medic, Jerry Neilsen, can't remember his own identity, so Sidney Freedman is called for help. 

Detailed summaryEdit

Along with the wounded arriving late at night is a medic, Sergeant Jerry Nielsen (Kevin Geer). Nielsen asks if he can come in to OR and watch the doctors work. Winchester rudely turns him down, but Hawkeye as Chief Surgeon overrules him and lets Nielsen watch.

In the OR, Winchester is even more short-tempered, and everyone else finally demands to know why. He reveals that because he's stuck in Korea for the foreseeable future, he has lost his chance at being Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Boston Hospital. Everyone is sympathetic, but Winchester isn't having any of it. Back at the Swamp, he finally gets so mad he states he will not talk to anyone in the 4077th ever again. Hawkeye and B.J., of course, take this as a challenge.

While they try and find ways to get to him to talk, they are faced with a more serious challenge: more wounded arrive, again accompanied by Sgt. Nielsen. Except this time, he seems dazed, and doesn't seem to know who or where he is. He holds up his dog tag, asking "Is this me?"

They immediately put in a call to Sidney Freedman, who diagnoses the problem as The Billfold Syndrome - a man looks at his billfold, but can't place himself.

He meets with Nielsen, and decides to put him under hypnosis. B.J and Hawkeye smack books together to recreate the sounds of shelling while Sidney guides Nielsen through the battle recreation, and bit by bit, they learn that Nielsen's younger brother Stevie was killed in battle, before he could make it out of the bunker. They also learn that Nielsen promised his mother to watch out for Stevie. Now knowing the truth, Sidney brings Nielsen out of the hypnotic trance and Nielsen, with his memories intact, collapses onto Sidney's shoulder tearfully.

Later, a fake telegram sent to Winchester (supposedly from Boston Hospital) gets him to talk. When Winchester learns it's a practical joke, he gets revenge by collapsing the roof of the Swamp on top of Hawkeye, B.J., and Sidney after dropping off a telegram that simply says, "Gentlemen: Heads up."

Guest starringEdit

Fun Facts Edit

  • Charles would once again try to get revenge by collapsing a tent, this time on the entire staff in the Mess Tent, in the episode "Communication Breakdown". They had stolen his clothes because he accused them of stealing one of his precious newspapers during an Army halt of all second-class mail. This attempt, however, was stopped by Col. Potter. Later, when Charles is dining in the Mess Tent alone, he falls victim to his own trap when Klinger moves the jeep Charles had tied the main tent post to earlier.
  • In attempt to get Charles to talk by spouting out insults to him, Hawkeye jokes that Winchester's parents voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt four times (as the Winchesters are Conservative Republicans, therefore, against the Liberal Democratic FDR). Roosevelt was, in fact, elected four times; 1932 (defeating incumbent Herbert Hoover), 1936, 1940, and 1944. He died during the beginning of his fourth term. In the Special finale episode of MASH Charles returns to Boston as Chief of Thorasic Surgery.
  • Sgt Nielson is with the 5th regimental Combat Team [5th Infantry Regiment] which served in Korea 1950-1953.
  • The therapy technique used by Sidney Freedman was very similar to an actual method used by the Army. A training film titled Psychiatric Procedures in the Combat Area from 1944 depicts an actual case not unlike to what was depicted in the episode.

External linksEdit

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