Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shell Shock Then, PTSD Now

In sorting out some of my image files, I came across a group of images of shell shock victims from the war, which I have turned into the collage below. I thought the subject was worth a fresh look so I've added links to some of the better articles I've come across on the subject from the Great War and today's wars. Incidentally, I recall that when I was gathering the images for an article published long ago, I had trouble finding photos of such distressed patients. In the middle on the right side is a figure that readers may recognize as Major William Donovan of the 42nd Rainbow Division. To my knowledge he was not diagnosed with shell shock, but in the photo he is clearly showing the strain of the continual battle his unit engaged in. He was wounded sometime after this photo and received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

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  1. Shell shock sounds better than PTD. At least one had to see real combat to get it and not just experience some uncomfortable things associated with training and troop movements.
    T Morgan

  2. There's also a strong opinion that they are two different things. "Shell shock" may be a better term for "combat exhaustion" that has a hydrostatic component, where PTSD is a purely psychological condition. Combat exhaustion can be (but not necessarily is) short term, and can be accompanied by a stress disorder.

  3. I ran across the designation, "evacuated, not classed as wounded". Does this translate to "shell shock"?