did you know shell shock was the first form of PTSD diagnosis? (potential trigger warning)

I was doing some late night wikipedia'ing.

Veterans of World War I came back from war and experienced what they themselves termed as "shell shock". Soldiers were involuntarily crying, shivering, going blind, developing physical maladies that doctors could not explain.

Soldiers suffering were initially seen as weak and complaining. But finally the overwhelming number of cases and undeniable symptoms forced the medical world at the time to come up with a formal diagnosis.

So when you are thinking (like I do sometimes) why do I feel this way? What's wrong with me? Am I crazy? NO you are not crazy, it's a perfectly normal reaction to abnormal events.

5 Replies

  • It's been called by several names: combat stress, battle fatigue. There was another name too, but i can't think of it.

  • Thank you for this important and valuable reminder, Littletraveller! I do ask those questions of myself almost every single day and it takes effort to remind myself there is a legitimate "why."

  • I know, it helped me to see things with my health in more concrete terms.. Because some people seem to think PTSD is a wafty insubstantial diagnosis and doesn't really mean anything- but here is a real reminder that it certainly does meaning something!! And should be taken seriously.

    When you see these soldiers' scary involuntary reactions you know that psychological trauma has affected their inner organs somehow. They can't control what their body is doing to them. So beating themselves up for feeling this way is SO counterproductive and and that's what I do a lot of the time.

  • totally agree! Me too.

  • In the Civil War it was called Soldiers Heart. Being a published WW2 author, I've looked into this a lot and was able to write my own impacts and views of ptsd into the story.

    Some blurring does get in the way. Combat/Battle fatigue is also a stress reaction that sometimes gets called ptsd, but it is more of a precursor to ptsd. The amount of Combat/Battle Fatigue was pretty high and sometimes due to traumatic brain injury with no apparent wounds from concussions. Combat Fatigue had immediate results and made the soldier unfit for duty.

    Pulitzer awardee and 101st Airborne WW2 soldier Louis Simpson wrote a piece called Soldier Heart. We've come a long way on treatment since then. Worth the read if you can find it. It can be found on J Store.

    For those into WW2 history, here is a youtube version of one of Louis' poems. Not about PTSD but the trauma of combat.

    I know that battle well.