The parades have thinned, the cheers have faded and the 52 Americans freed nearly nine months ago from captivity in Iran are discovering what altered states of "normality" they have come home to.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Donald Hohman suffers from insomnia, has a fear of crowds and, he says, has been seeing a psychiatrist since he broke into tears at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans last winter.
One freed hostage came back into American society after 444 days in prison with an urge to stock up on underwear and has required far more dresser-drawer and closet space than his wife had left free for him.
Four of the hostages' marriages have ended in divorce and another three have indicated they are about to come apart, according to hostage wife Katherine Keough in testimony before a government commission.
One is State Department security officer Michael Howland and his wife. Nancy Howland of Alexandria said she and her husband had agreed not to discuss publicly the reasons they were splitting up, but confirmed that a divorce is in progress.
The marriage of State Department communications officer Charles A. Jones also is ending. His wife, Mattie, filed divorce papers June 24 in Detroit.
Two female dependents of hostages have attempted suicide. Two former hostages have required "extensive neuropsychiatric care" with lengthy periods in institutions, and more than a dozen others are receiving some psychiatric care. Severe depression, free-floating fear and an inability to concentrate are among the major complaints.
Malcolm K. Kalp, one of the first hostages to reveal he had been beaten during his 444 days in Iranian captivity, still suffers from "a constant ringing in my ears . . . and have difficulty sleeping at night."
Several former hostages have received threats, and in one case the children of a hostage were sent home from school because of threats against their lives. Some children of hostages are receiving psychiatric treatment. Some are reluctant to let daddy out of their sight, for fear he might disappear again.
There are also half a dozen cases of ulcers, weight loss, high blood pressure, skin rashes, migraine headaches, intestinal and colon disturbances and a number of cases of T-M syndrome, a stress disorder caused by constant grinding of teeth and/or clenching of jaws. There are nightmares and flashbacks.
"The combined horror of the experience haunts me still," Army Warrant Officer Joseph M. Hall said. "I continue to have the feeling that imminent danger lurks nearby. I know how vulnerable I and my family are and I await the next tragedy."
Much of this litany from hostages and their families was gathered by a presidential commission studying the possibility of compensation for the captives. The adjustment difficulties are within the range predicted by hostage specialists, officials said, and there is no way to know whether at least some of the mental, marital and other problems might have occurred without the hostage crisis.
"Most do have some problems, but they're not insurmountable," said hostage wife Keough, president of the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG), which represents the hostage families. "They're what you'd expect--simple life-adjustment problems. Most are coping. Sort of a normal muddling along."
Quite a few hostages came back to houses they had never lived in before, to newly independent wives, she said. Some wives had learned to drive. Some had assumed the role of disciplinarian over the children and conflicts arose when the returned father wanted that job back.
One hostage family vignette is about going to the supermarket together. The returned hostage pushed the cart down the aisle, reached for the food items he remembered as part of their usual menu and was told there had been a change. In his absence, his wife and kids had switched to lighter foods, fewer pot roasts, stews and "manly dishes."
"Now we do it this way," has become a well-worn phrase in some of the families, according to one wife.
Possessive relatives and friends are another part of post-captivity life for some, the "touch-a-star" syndrome. "If you want an exciting dinner party, invite a hostage," the wife said. "The reaction is some bewilderment, like 'I was never that popular before,' and also a sense of obligation."
Some families reportedly have been the target of criticism from neighbors accusing them of trying to profit from the crisis, or being publicity hungry.
Some, such as Hohman and hostage wife Dorothea Morefield, feel lingering bitterness against the State Department for its handling of the crisis, particularly its treatment of the families and the hostages' homecoming.
"I never want to see some of the State Department people again," Morefield said. "There's a bitterness there, and it'll take time to see whether it can be absorbed or what will happen."
She and her husband, Richard, have moved back to their home in Alexandria after her sojourn in San Diego during the crisis. He, incidentally, is on a diet.
Some returned hostages are eager to talk about their ordeal, while others seek privacy. Several are working on books.
They continue to pop up in the news. Last week the former captives drew unexpected cheers in the Journal of the American Dental Association, where Air Force dentists give a happy account of hostage dental hygiene. Though "foul-tasting Iranian toothpaste" made brushing an unpleasant chore, they found, the hostages brushed "from three to six times daily."
The captives were also inventive in their flossing techniques, using everthing from "used chicken bones and twigs" to strands from the ropes used to bind them.
While most of the hostages have resumed military or diplomatic careers, some have taken a new turn. Moorehead Kennedy, whose wife, Louisa, became a familiar spokesman for the families during the crisis, has left the Foreign Service to become director of the Cathedral Peace Institute, a foreign affairs organization of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. His wife will work as a fund-raiser.
"We've spent a lot of the summer speaking all around the country," she said, "and we're still planning a book together."
The mothers of some hostages, including Kennedy's, have suffered failing health since the captives were released. Some relatives speculate that it is partly, as one put it, the presence of "a tremendous void where there had been a sense of mission" when they were busy writing notes, keeping scrapbooks, keeping the home fires burning.
"I think each family makes its own adjustments," said the wife whose husband shocked her with his greatly expanded need for drawer space. She quickly learned to understand it, she said.
"For 444 days he only had one pair of underwear. Now he has easily two dozen." In the spartan prison environment he came to prize every scrap of paper. "Now he wants to be able to see all his belongings, and he has acquired many more than in the past. We worked out a new division of drawer space with no difficulty."
The presidential commission, formed by President Carter and continued by President Reagan, is expected to announce this month its recommendations on the government's obligations to these and any future hostage groups, possibly with comprehensive legislation.
Headlines following a commission hearing last month stirred some controversy by focusing on a reference by a lawyer representing the families to the sum of $1,000 per day per hostage, or $444,000 each, as a conservative ballpark figure to compensate them.
No such award is seriously contemplated by the commission or expected by the families, according to a commission source. The hostages already are compensated by the recently enacted Hostage Relief Act, which provides for medical benefits, tax exemption for salaries earned during captvity, educational, training and other benefits for the hostages and their dependents.
Among the options the commission might recommend, on top of those benefits, is raising the amount to be paid the hostages for lost property, now limited to $40,000, the source said.