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bmac

Medium to long term effects of shell shock

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bmac

Can anyone point me to any books, studies, etc., on the medium to long term effects of shell shock? The reason for the query is that, having been through a large number of officer personal files recently, I've been struck by the number of shell shock casualties who then appeared to have suffered medium to long term psychological problems some of which might have manifested themselves through subsequent minor or major criminal or disciplinary charges.

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bmac

I think I can answer my own question after an hour or so's search on the Net. Apparently no studies were done on the long term psychological impact of shell shock though research was conducted in the 20s into its causes and treatment. So, there you go.

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bmac

Ha! Why didn't I find this one? Thanks, will give it a good read.

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johnreed

bmac

I have a good book its called " Shell Shock" by Anthony Babington A history of the changing attitudes to war neurosis. There is 11 for sale on AbeBooks.co.uk Ranging in price from £16 to £44

Or look at the Lancet web site for any articles published

John

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Arras100

I've done my M.A. in studying shell shock and I can assure you that the lingering effects did last for many, many years after the war. Some men were 'cured' of the physical symptoms, but most did not escape the mental/psychological manifestations of the condition.

You may find the following books useful:

Eric Leed, "No Man's Land"

Ben Shephard, "A War of Nerves: A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century"

Peter Barham, "Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War"

The first two of these are more studies about shell shock during the war(s), but the last is a rather good account of what happened to many individual men after the war as well.

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bmac

Gentlemen,

Thank you for the recommendations. I will endeavour to pursue them.

Cheers

B

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Arras100

Hey, don't forget the lady in the bunch! ;)

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ackimzey

I found this short entry relating to "shock" in my great uncle's diary (see my signature) but I'm not sure if it relates to physical shock or shell shock. Anyway, thought I'd pass it along.

Ann

"Aug. 9. 1918 – Went to Gezaincourt [just South of Doullens] in p.m. to 3rd Army meeting to discuss shock. Met Lieut. Brewer of Memphis & Lieut. Leach who was with me in Eng. Both are with 42 div.'

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John Gilinsky

Studies undertaken after the war's end if dating from circa 1919 to 1939 were statistically based by a handfull of people usually in pensions or equivalent interested in tracking the COSTS to the state of caring for such chronic cases and not epidemiologically valid nor even medically sound due to the continuing confusion of what constituted "shell shock" nosologically. The last book of the three is a good example to some degree of this conflation of mental problems despite the author's professional training and wilful acknowledgement of the difficulties just pointed out. Remember that the mentally ill or insane could ALSO suffer from shell shock concurrently or afterwards and that especially post-war trauma may NOT have been attributable to their war service as such but their pre-existing medical mental health condition. Sorting all this out is my business for the CEF (writing a book on this). It is enough to drive one .......!:).

John

Toronto

P.S. Check out any major English or British digitized newspaper for notices of 1919 to 1939 shell shock as they appear in English or other criminal courts, hospitals, police reports on murder, suicide, disappeared men,etc..... This will give you great anecdotal information and individual cases.

The Times of London and the Scotsman are just two that spring to mind.

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bmac

John,

Thanks for this. Most interesting. I wonder whether there is any recent/current research amongst soldiers affected by 'shell shock'/PTSD which might indicate a greater propensity amongst sufferers to infringe discipline or the law from which one might extrapolate evidence about the likely implications for similar men post 1918. Are there also examples, for instance, of combat related PTSD being used in mitigation in legal cases, etc?

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Dragon

Hello Bill

I'm afraid I disagree with John's dismissive opinion of Forgotten Lunatics. Review for the publisher. You can find differences of opinions between John and Robbie (and me) elsewhere in a search on the book title.

(eg here onwards).

You may find some relevant material on the Royal College of Psychiatrists' website, depending on your search terms. I found some discussion of the problems of diagnostic labelling (eg 'shell shock' may have manifested as apparent depression or even bipolar disorder). For current or recent research, you could try UK Trauma Group, European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies - a lot of research listed here, but I haven't looked through it all, so it may not be relevant - or Combat Stress.

I wonder whether the question of defence (PTSD as a mitigating factor) is linked into the Mental Capacity Act? Mind has a legal newsletter which I'm supposed to get, but here is a starting point. I imagine their legal team (link at the bottom of that page) could point you in the direction of suitable research (if any). A quick web search gives numerous examples of combat-related PTSD being used as a defence in cases of domestic violence, but I wouldn't want to list any because I'm not qualified to assess their reliability.

Gwyn

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bmac

Gwyn,

Thanks for all that. I will pursue.

Bill

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geraint

I have a disturbing number of cases in my area of crimes committed by veterans against others. In a 5K population town, I have local speculation on 7 murders committed by veterans against members of their families, where no action was taken against the perpetrators because they were understood to be mentally disturbed due to their war time experiences; and were locked up at Denbigh Mental Asylum for the rest of their lives. I have also gathered evidence of other veterans regarded as 'strange', brutal', not nice' etc etc by members of their families. There's a massive Pandora's Box out there!

Geraint

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