Monday, January 19, 2015

Female Shell-Shock Victims of World War I

From the Atlantic:
During World War I, the relatively new field of psychoanalysis was full of possibility and, unfortunately, thousands of new patients. The war’s destruction was not limited to the physical; the psychological devastation was immense, and soldiers returned home from the front every day exhibiting a range of new symptoms, including "hysterical paralysis," deafness, mutism, arthritis, facial spasms, “fear, disgust, fatigue,” “delirium,” “suicidal thoughts,” “stammer,” and more. Though we now recognize many of these as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, doctors at the time struggled to find ways to categorize the rapid and widespread breakdown of the British mind. The solution for soldiers was the invention of a new condition: shell shock. The diagnosis and treatment of similar traumas in women, however, has been largely unexamined by historians. (Read more.)

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