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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

A LAND FIT FOR HEROES


Marmelos@aol.com
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Hello!

Not sure where my query could be posted but I thought I'd post it here under chit chat.

I'm really interested in what happened to Shell shock victims after WW1 when they returned home.

I know that my great-grandfather suffered from recurring nightmares (he was gassed twice) and in 1927 he suffered a nervous breakdown. Since being demobbed his nerves had never been great. His brother-in -law ignored his wife's plea that he was shell shocked and had him committed to a Warwickshire Mental asylum where he spent nine months. In those nine months he had electric shock treatment and all of his teeth were extracted, and other treatments which my grandmother can't bear to talk about. His wife through much hard work eventually got him out. He had a stroke in 1932 and was sent again back to Hatton for six months. It was his wife whom campaigned once again for his return to the family and he was released. However, he suffered two further major strokes which left him severely disabled, and in 1937 he died from a massive heart attack.

The Doctor who had been treating him said that my great-grandfather's heart and lungs were so badly damaged from the effects of the gas that it was a miracle he had survived to the age of 43.

I was wondering whether this was 'normal' treatment for shell shock victims, although I have heard of a hospital down south that pioneered calming, more humane treatments for shell shock victims. I am fascinated by this branch of the first world war, and would be grateful for any info.

Thanks, Charlotte

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Hello!

Not sure where my query could be posted but I thought I'd post it here under chit chat.

I'm really interested in what happened to Shell shock victims after WW1 when they returned home.

.................................

I was wondering whether this was 'normal' treatment for shell shock victims, although I have heard of a hospital down south that pioneered calming, more humane treatments for shell shock victims. I am fascinated by this branch of the first world war, and would be grateful for any info.

Thanks, Charlotte

Hi Charlotte. Unfortunately, the treatment which your Great grandfather received was very much par for the course. General treatment for the mentally ill was minimal and consisted to a large degree of keeping them in a safe environment where they could be kept fed and clothed and removed from society. The electric shock treatment was advocated by most psychiatrists at the time and for a good few years to come. It was still practised well after WW2. See " One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for a description of it being used in USA. Extraction of the teeth would have been a medical/dental decision. There were exceptions to the general run of treatment and that would depend on the presence of a doctor who was prepared to offer non-standard treatment. Craiglockhart, outside Edinburgh, was one such place and of course is famous from Sassoon among other patients.

Edit: I have just checked up and OFOTCN refers to frontal lobotomy. Another treatment used for a time instead of and as well as EST.

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  • 8 years later...

Charlotte:  Can you please get in touch with me as soon as possible?  I just posted on my FB page a US Marine vet articles from the Wall Street Journal online version of lobotomized US WW2 veterans.  Can you please let me know the actual name and any other id details about this presumably BEF soldier?  My number one research is with the history of shellshock in the CEF from 1914 onwards.  Thanks,

John

Toronto, Ontario

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Further to the 1931 photo

 

http://archivesunlocked.warwickshire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=00607%2f1%2f1%2f4%2f1&pos=4

 

As a close relative you MAY be allowed some specific access to your relative's medical information.

 

Doc Ref No CR0051/88
Title Register of lunatics in Asylum
Date 1877-1930
Description Register of those admitted, mainly to Warwick County Lunatic Asylum[Hatton] and Barnsley Hall [Bromsgrove, Worcestershire]. Includes:
Name and date of admission
Age
Parish
Asylum to which admitted or if boarded out with relatives etc.
Date of death or discharge
Observations
Level Item
AccessStatus Unavailable for general access
ClosedUntil 01/01/2031
AccessConditions It may be possible for us to release information from this item, please write to us for details.

 

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