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Mystery of Shellshock "Solved?

Discussion in 'Military History' started by The_Historian, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    But if that was so and warfare in WW1 wasn't that different to civvy street, shellshock wouldn't have been such a problem. Nowhere in civilian life did 19,000 men die on one day, like the Somme, or several hundred at a time when their ship was sunk.
     
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    War is war. It is the most trying of conditions and pushes the human mind to, and sometimes past, the breaking point. Very likely, all wars have had their shell shock/battle fatigue/PTSD.

    In the American Civil War, one of the terms used was Soldier's Heart.

    However, back then, it was not talked about much, and researched even less. As such, I doubt such a condition suddenly sprang into existence during World War I.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    My point was about PRE C20th warfare, and one of three reasons why shell shock is seen as a C20th phenomena.

    19,000 dead in one day is a lot, but a century earlier with smaller populations figures on a similar scale were a bad day at the office for Napoleon. The difference is the duration of battles. Napoleon;s men were not expected to stay in the line under fire at the end of the battle and continue for months at a time.

    My comment about pre C20th civilian life is more about the attitudes towards life death and people's strngth to endure hardship. In the modern world, death is a rarity.

    We do not expect to lose children or their mothers in child birth, or that less than half of our children will live to the age of eleven. http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/pdf/lps77/article_1_woods_pp12-23.pdf

    We expect to arrive at the end of journeys. Crossing the channel or Atlantic are no longer seen as activities needing the intercession of the Almighty "For those in peril on the seas"
     
  4. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    And that stiff upper lip idea was responsible for shell-shock- "The rate of war neurosis, however, was four times higher among officers then among the regular soldiers. Their positions required them to continually repress their emotions in order to set an example for their men."
    http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWmental.htm

    If it was a world where "everyone faced imminent death", that doesn't explain this passage from the same source-

    "shellshock began to occur in men who had never come under fire, while some had never even been within hearing range of exploding shells."




    http://en.wikipedia...._United_Kingdom


    That's about as politically-loaded an article as I've ever seen. It still peddles the old idea that the Potato Famine was the fault of the British government, the aristocracy and just about everyone else except:
    1) the Irish farmers who preferred to sell produce abroad for more money than they would get selling/giving it to people who were starving.
    2) The Catholic church's obsession with giving everyone a guilt trip. It wasn't "illegal" to give aid to the poor, the RC church just discouraged it, particularly in Ireland. The famine in Scotland killed a damn sight fewer people because the Parish Relief Boards made sure aid went to the people who needed it most precisely when they did need it.
    http://theses.gla.ac.uk/3311/

    It also conveniently overlooks the fact that Britain isn't self-sufficient in food and hasn't been for a long, long time-
    -http://www.ifr.ac.uk/waste/Reports/RuSource_foodsecurity.pdf
     
  5. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    Here's another perspective-
    "Ancient warriors armed with swords and spears from 3,000 years ago suffered from shell shock just like modern soldiers, according to a study.
    Soldiers who experienced the horrors of the battlefield and were left with post traumatic stress disorder is not a phenomenon of modern warfare, say the researchers.
    An analysis of ancient texts shows PTSD became common considerably earlier than previously believed, although the symptoms were explained away as 'the spirits of those enemies whom the patient had killed.'
    The earliest reference had been from the Battle of Marathon 490BC but scientists traced mention of 'shell shock' back to 1,300 BC in ancient Mesopotamia
    The study, published in Early Science and Medicine, said that while modern technology has increased the effectiveness and types of weaponry, 'ancient soldiers facing the risk of injury and death must have been just as terrified of hardened and sharpened swords, showers of sling-stones or iron-hardened tips of arrows and fire arrows.'"
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2923799/Did-ancient-warriors-suffer-PTSD-Texts-reveal-battles-3-000-years-ago-left-soldiers-traumatised-saw.html#ixzz3PhcgIxjP

    And I had actually forgotten about this one-
    The Forgotten Female Shell-shock victims of WW1
    http://www.ww2f.com/topic/53913-ww1s-forgotten-female-shell-shock-victims/?p=591091
     
  6. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    yes, I agree, as I stated above
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    NPR had an article a while back about PTSD in certain civilian occupations. High altitude search and rescue was one that had a fairly high rate as I recall along with police and reglear EMTs.
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    high alt and rescue surprises me...I can't believe there would be enough to do a good study [many statistics]...
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    One of the factors apparently is that mountain climbers and back country ski'ers are a fairly small fraternaty. Those who live in an area know each other and so a fairly high percentage of the time the high latitude rescue teams are looking for and rescueing people they know. How "good" the study is may be an open question very much dependent on what your definition of "good" is. The incidence does appear to be higher with them than with most other groups although I don't think it's as high as combat vets. If you look on thier site you might be able to find the article. Either Morning Edition or All Things Considered should limit the scope of your search.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    but you did say in the civilian groups....that is a very interesting [ for me ] point...thanks for the input...
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    PTSD is apparently not just one thing. Stress is a factor but so is brain trauma. The army has found for instance good food and good living conditions can hold off or even prevent the onset of PTSD. Breaks from the fighting can also reset the clock to some extent. In some cases their may be an infectious component as well. Stress seems to be common factor in most cases though.
     
  12. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    I agree with you on that lwd. They say that just a few days off the line can also be a reliever for soldiers, which is probably why they don't keep one unit on the front all the time and do rotations
     
  13. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    yes, hot food, clean clothes, etc can do wonders
     
  14. squidly the octopus

    squidly the octopus New Member

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    Just my opinion, but based in part on a small bit of experience.... under sustained shelling/bombing, everyone will "break" sooner or later, if it goes on long enough. Some sooner, and some later. A few, immediately, just from hearing one explosion. Makes the guys who never "broke" at places like Stalingrad all the more amazing to me. But every person has a "threshold" for how much sustained bombardment they can mentally withstand, and I don't believe it is unlimited in anyone. As bronk7 said, we aren't designed for this.

    I also believe everyone returning from combat suffers some degree of shellshock or PTSD or whatever you want to call it. More in some, less in others, but some in all. It wears off over time, perhaps depending on how much combat and the individual. In some, maybe it never wears off. And this may or may not involve physical brain injury. I know that a person can have shellshock or PTSD without ever having been close enough to an explosion to have suffered a brain injury, so it isn't all about physical brain injury.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  16. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    That really is interesting. Is this bit true?

     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That is consistent with what I've read. Remember the rate in the US military is lower than the rate among civilians in the same group. Now if you looked back at peace time rates and compared them to the current you might find that the increase was greater among troops that have been deployed.
     
  18. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    doesn't SOCOM deploy more than regular troops? not only for actual missions, but also more that are planned, then aborted, which causes it's own stress....? seems like they are on the ''edge'' more......and then it talks how the sub personnel have a high suicide rate....I can see how being in a sub, close living, can stress anyone...very logical....the Navy and USMC guys here can attest to that....subs' conditions make it worse than a ship
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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