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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Shell Shock


Fedelmar

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Hello everyone;

One of my 'Albany Boys' sadly died of shellshock about 2 years after being medically discharged.

I know what causes shell shock and the syptoms and effects on the person's life.

What I am wanting to know is how would it be a cause of death? Would this man be so badly debilitated by it that he simply wasted away and just lost the will to live?

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Hello everyone;

One of my 'Albany Boys' sadly died of shellshock about 2 years after being medically discharged.

I know what causes shell shock and the syptoms and effects on the person's life.

What I am wanting to know is how would it be a cause of death? Would this man be so badly debilitated by it that he simply wasted away and just lost the will to live?

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Sandra, that would be the only explanation I could come up with. In today's terminology, that probably would not have been considered the primary cause of death, but only a contributing cause. Doc2

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Another thought might be suicide, not specified by a kindly person in order to protect the man's reputation or his family. I realise this may not be the most probable option, but I have come across the term 'shell shock' used as a metaphor. It was certainly used as an explanation for aberrant behaviours.

I'll leave aside the suicide suggestion, and briefly return to your theory about his debilitation and decline. As mental illness is rarely constant, I would wonder whether he perhaps hadn't been suffering debilitation for the whole of the two years, but whether the condition might have recurred or been triggered, which would be very sad for those who cared about him if they had seen some hope of a recovery.

Gwyn

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Suicide would could have indded been the cause of Death,as i have a Soldier on the Cheltenham War Memorial,whose death is listed as Shell Shock,but it transpired that He Killed Himself,another possibility could be Heart Failure.How many Men Died years after the War due to psycolgical problems causing them to end there lives.? :(

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True ... I thought suicide myself ... I do have others that committed suicide and it is listed as such ... this one just says 'shell shock' and all sources that I have checked say the same. This was why I was a little more interested in the aspects.

Hugo Throssell's suicide is public knowledge and he is a VC winner ... one would have thought if they wanted to 'cover up' a suicide his would have been.

I guess I need to fossick around a bit more on the shellshock one and see what else I can find :)

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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A very intersting Book on the whole subject of Shell Shock,and it after efects is called FORGOTTEN LUNATICS OF THE GREAT WAR BY PETER BARHAM,very interesting it is too,with many discharged Soldiers,there was simply no cure at the Time,so they were simply shoved into Mental Asylums by a Greatful Government...But some were insane before they enlisted !!!! :blink:

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I reviewed Forgotten Lunatics. The review, which the author has approved, is on Salientpoints’ website:

http://www.salientpoints.com

It’s also on Tom Morgan’s website, Hellfire Corner, here:

http://www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/reviewforgotten.htm

Gwyn

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Shellshock became so bad in some people that even once they got home, the sound of a car backfiring or a loud bang could even send them into shock, so easily it is seen how badly effected some people would be. I think it is probable that his mind took over body and he did 'wasre away'

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Not sure how relevant this is, but I have a close friend who was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) about five years ago--the result of growing up in a household with a lot of domestic violence and abuse. He has a lot of problems that are secondary to PTSD, such as insomnia, high blood pressure, the tendency to over-eat during stressful times, as well as some anxiety-related emotional issues. These conditions are not life threatening, and he has sought both medical and psychological help to deal with it. He also has youth on his side. But would be be able to cope this well 90 years ago? Probably not.

So at any rate, I can see how somebody with no means of seeking help might have his health deteriorate rapidly as a result of PTSD (which is what shell shock is recognized as today). Doesn't shed much new insight into the original question at hand, but those are my feelings anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sandra

On the weekend I came across a book on shell shock which I thought might assist with your questions:

Leese, Peter, 2002, Shell Shock, Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, Palgrave London.

It's a social and medical study which investigates the experience of psychological casualities.

Chris

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Sandra,

Shell shock is comonly used for a mental disorder.

I have on record a number of soldiers who not being wounded or even having been at the front were discharged with Shell shock. This seams like a general classification with the Army.

Any soldier with a mental disorder are after they leave the services can be open to self harm and many do.

Suicide is comen after the war and the full numbers of soldiers lost to it will never be known as I have a number who shot them selves but are recorded as accidents. This I think was a legal reason as the Widow or family would still get benifts if Died of Service related reasons other then suicide.

Cheers

S.B

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  • 4 years later...

This YouTube video clearly illustrates the debilitating impacts of severe shell shock. Borden Battery

Verdun Shellshock - YouTube Video

The short video shows physical disfigurement and several manifestations of Shellshock in French soldiers. [CEF Study Group - Oct 2010]

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Thanks for that.

It certainly throws a different light on the PSTD aspect. From experience I do know PSTD comes in varying degrees.

:poppy:

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