Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
- I have been searching the literature also. There's an anecdotal reference
here and there about a soldier verbally chastising another occasionally (one
fellow who had a limb removed do so stoically and was admonishing another
for crying out and threatening him to bear up like a man or he'd beat him),
but so far I haven't found anything remotely resembling a clinical diagnosis
for shell shock, battle fatigue or PTSD (even if not named for it).
In my limited understanding, I believe the lack of such documentation is
reflective of the culture of the times and a general lack of understanding
pursuant to psychology/psychiatry. Even internal medicine didn't exist as a
discrete discipline, and most treatments were superficial (as well as
Respectfully submitted for consideration,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Of course, when a British soldier was declared "worn out", it might also mean that his dental state had finally deteriorated to where he no longer had an upper and lower tooth that would meet to tear open his cartridges anymore.....
IMHO, we need to be EXTREMELY careful in attempting to decipher the quasi-medical vernacular of the period. Not all "medical" judgements in the military would have been made by qualified medical personnel, but often by superior officers or perhaps even NCOs! And, even when we strive not to allow it, our modern knowledge of PTSD and other combat-related psychological disorders will colour our perspective and understanding of what we read. An interesting discussion, to be certain... but one in which we must be very cautious with regard to our assumptions.