tv Shell Shock During World War I CSPAN January 7, 2017 7:09pm-8:01pm EST
tour of san diego, california sunday on c-span3 working with cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. ♪ >> the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, january 20. c-span will have live coverage. watch live on c-span at c-span.org and listen live on the free c-span radio app. on "american history tv, annessa stagner in world shellshocked
war i soldiers, which described long-term distress from combat experience. deanr -- stagner is the from colorado. this was part of a two-day symposium hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> my pleasure to introduce a colleague that i have been on a forum with. dr. and mrs. stagner. after working as a visiting associate and pedagogical fellow at the university of california, dr. and mrs. stagner now serves as dean of academic services that lamarr community college. dr. stagner's focus and research is on the history of psychological war trauma, the neurological effects of shellshocked during world war one. 1916will highlight how in
the public began to understand shellshockting things. on the centenary anniversary 1916, stagner's presentation is a talk that is both timely and irrefutably irrelevant -- relevant to the world today. it is my pleasure to introduce dr. mrs. stagner. [applause] annessa stagner: thank you for that introduction. as we have already heard this morning, the first world war marked for many the first modern
industrial war, and indeed as we heard, total war. with it came in technology and destruction on a massive scale. mines killed hundreds in single explosions, gas seemingly melted lungs and eyes. machine guns signaled inevitable slaughter for those ordered to charge. in theto turn attention next hour or so to the psychological and neurological effects of the first world war, particularly in the year 1960. medi-cal -- medical personnel were already aware of injuries referred to as shellshocked, but 1916 marked a turning point with nations and military's force to confront the destruction -- forced to confront the destruction on human minds.
i would like to begin by exploring how medical personnel came by shellshock and how they attempted to mitigate the damage. then i would like to turn attention to the ways in which shellshock came to have greater meeting beyond the war -- meaning beyond the war. print from wrote in shellshock in the 1915 article in the british journal atlantic. he argued the impacts of an exploding shell could impair the senses, hearing, sight, smell, and taste. the symptoms doctors placed under the terms varied. there were cases ranging from staring eyes and nightmares to violent tremors and paralysis. in fact, the term became so
broad, some argued it included any melody other than a -- malady other than a physical wound there they did come to understand the distinction between what we would call physical brain injury and psychological mind wound. the cases were often difficult to distinguish, and i would like to provide you one. , as is frederick moss' work published book. this case is a case of what he calls function will -- functional paralysis. the patient was advised to do normal expression and close both eyes, hold a smile and frown. you can see one side of his face is completely operational. the other side is not. here is the story on this individual. december 26 as his platoon was make in -- making barbed wire, they were in the delta -- mortar
happened, covering his left race, unable to breathe. he was unconscious for three days. he knew nothing of what happened to himself. the above information is what he was told by a conrad -- comrade. after eight months he was seen by a great number of doctors, and his face had not changed. he had been x-rayed without results. he remembers going into the dugout, and he hears in his mind the shell coming. he has terrifying experience of his front. the doctor said there was nothing physically wrong with the muscles in his face, yet he had been in a shell explosion. he has suffered concussion. he has also experienced the trauma of war. so i want to emphasize here that
sometimes diagnoses blurred the lines between physical damage and mental damage, and we can see in this case how that happened. i want to emphasize here that wartime trauma is intimately connected with local culture politics. each culture experienced trauma during the first world war and shellshockshop -- differently. i am blurring the lines for purposes of emphasizing the year 1916. early in the war, many failed to recognize assistance of war injuries to the mind. dr. charles wilson who sort -- who served in the royal medical army, wrote, we did not bother about the mind. we did what we could or their bodies. we did not ask whether a man was faring well or if you would last. of course he would last. why shouldn't he?
the british military court-martialed and executed those individuals who they viewed as cowards rather than injured men. on a number of occasions, military officers and doctors after days of lingering lead soldiers to commit suicide. this might be sent home to an asylum. military officials couched their descriptions of shellshock in language suggesting lack of courage. he described soldiers cracking up and losing their nerves. these were signs of emasculating fear. one person said, i mustn't kill him. i was afraid. by 1916, large number of shellshocked soldiers had become too significant to become ignored. as this american observed from france, no medical military problem of the war are more
striking than those growing out of the extraordinary incidents of shellshock. these account for 1/7 of all discharges from the british army at that time. as the tension grew, so did the base regarding terminology and meaning. perhaps with the best diagnosis one could get. it signaled or entitled a physical cause and gave the soldier who was diagnosed with it a sense of identity. neuroses, hysteria and other terms signaled psychogenic or what we would say a psychological cause. psychological causes were sometimes seen as legitimate, originating in the unconscious mind of the soldier, who remained willing to fight but unable to control the flight behavioral instinct embedded deep within the psyche. other times it was considered illegitimate altogether.
perhaps the soldier was intentionally malingering. perhaps the soldier was showing feminine weakness. also -- often which diagnosis the soldier received and the leaning of that depended on time, circumstance, commanding officer, and doctor. treatments for shellshock and the associated disorders, neuroses, hysteria, took a variety of forms, sometimes punishment, sometimes hydrotherapy. others included hypnosis. what we would describe as physical therapy, talk therapy and the rest cure. mixed with a sense of obligation and reminders of cultural expectations of what masculine men should be and do. often these techniques were referred to under the broad in
berlin of identification -- umbrella of identification, balloting -- validating the soldiers condition and asking him to get well. these are his ticket for psychological causes under like .till shocke -- shellshock the worst was electrical hybridization, used in austro-hungarian units and to a lesser degree among british, french, and others. he replied on electro therapy to identify active pain to convince him of his ability to use his paralyzed limb. debates regarding causes and treatment continued throughout the war. no less than 223 american journal articles appeared in the war years regarding this topic. german, french, british and other publications number even higher.
crucialved especially for american doctors who had come to europe, observed treatment, and developed their own approach to treatment with the u.s. entered the war in 1917. they would develop the most country hands of planned for such disorders -- most comprehensive plan for such disorders. they saw it as a legitimate organ and providing treatment in hospitals just as they would for the physical, physically wounded. you can see this is a flowchart of hospitals for americans diagnosed with shellshock. at the top you have field other hospitals overseas. what is most significant about this document is you see the arose on the right-hand side
here going all the way up back to the field hospitals and the front lines. there is this notion that comprehensive american treatment looking at shellshock is a legitimate psychological war went -- as a legitimate psychological war wound [indiscernible] and to the front. so the united states' military, directly because of 1916 and this period of observation they have, take a proactive medical approach at least in policy that legitimizes the soldier's wounds, provides personalized care and emphasizes cure. despite improvements however, shellshock remained a medical military problem throughout the war, and it would have significant consequences in terms of permanently wounded in the aftermath.
statistics are difficult to identify. i have one count where british patients numbered 800,000. andd on differing diagnoses criteria and late onset of symptoms, statistics are difficult to estimate. what is proven is that the cultural significance of shellshocked extended well beyond the war years and well beyond the actual soldiers affected. historians have long contended that the shellshock became a symbol for the devastation of war itself, and european individuals unable to recover from it. this national trauma was expressed in public use in the years following the war. i want to give you two examples of this. one is the commission for inquiry into violating military duty in the austrian parliament
and investigating the role of military psychiatrists who had come of the trial revealed, applied painful electrical ples ando soldiers' nip genitals. people were put in charge of department and field hospitals in which nervous illnesses were treated. we get a sense of what punishment could mean at its cells,rst, isolation straight jackets, electrical shock, naked exposure, and public humiliation. debates [indiscernible] alsoritish war committee looked into shellshock, and this was central in british use. such discussions did not end with the immediate end of the war. this memorial in great britain entitled "shot at dawn" was
completed in 2001 and honors the legacy of shellshock as a symbol of war. i want to emphasize the importance of 1916 to all of this discussion. the shot at dawn memorial notes specifically 346 soldiers that were executed for malingering or cowardice along the lines. we see this greatest number of soldiers were executed in 1916. ,his begs the question for me what would have -- as a historian, this is really bad to do -- but what if the war ended in 1916? we see this escalation period that really happens in 1916 with the treatment of shellshocked soldiers. the national trauma also became visible in literature and art. this is a picture of a hospital which opened in 1916.
sassoon.famously house he was a distinguished [indiscernible] he was present at the somme. it was after 1917 he became disillusioned with war. his poem "survivor" not only describes the tremors and nightmares but also the hopelessness that accompanied the platoon with a failed victory. a glorious war that shattered all that tried. men who went out to battle, grim and glad. children with eyes that hate you, broken and mad. owen enlisted in 1915 and posted on the western front, january 1917. he also attended craig lockhart hospital after he was diagnosed with narrow stevia -- neurost
ymia. one of his works, gas, gas, quick boys, and ecstasy, fitting the clumsy helmet. someone is still stumbling like a man in flour. dim through the mist, pain and flickering light as under a .reen sea, i saw them drowning in all my dreams before my public site, plunges at me, stuttering, choking, drowning. if in some smothering dream you too could pay behind the wagon we flung him in and watch the white eyes writhing in space, his hanging face like the devil's thick. if you could see the blood come , biddersfrom his lungs ont cut a bile, sores
tongues. it continues. this idea of trauma and magnitude that soldiers are experiencing because of the war becomes very real in this literature. enlisted in the fall of 1915. he also participated in the somme, eventually earned the iron cross in november 1917 but transferred to the eastern front and then back to flanders in 1918. he has a serious in title intrigued. this is one of the most impressionable of his pieces. we see here signs of shellshock in the large eyes, the face, the expression, the i think bothng here in physical pain and in a mental anguish of war.
the remarks were mentioned this morning, acquired -- all quiet on the western front, that author was transferred in 1917. i'm showing a picture of the 1913.ade afterwards in a young recruit loses control of his emotions and runs out of the bunkers screaming. this results in a physical injury, and he later died of those wounds. obviously this is not a full accounting, and yet this is a glimpse into some of the individuals whose work has become part of the memory of war. they had experienced wars -- horrors and horrors from which they believed they would never recover. as we sit here at the centennial
of 1916, i wonder what would have their works looked like, or what they have produced such works had the war and devastation ended in 1916? many of them are visiting craig lockhart hospital in 1917 after years of fighting, years of experiencing these kinds of trauma. it was the persistence of war that deepened both the numbers of shellshocked soldiers and narratives regarding shellshocked nations. children -- not just soldiers, but nations and landscapes that all seemed to your revocable he shellshocked by war. irrevocablyd
shellshocked by more. -- war. it was regarded as a mental state which mirrored a social disease and national degeneration. intellectuals and early psychologists have long discussed industrialism's ability to overwhelm the census and cause neurasthenia. assists --rner neurasthenia, shellshocked. it signaled the breakdown of western civilization. well-received study of thece and germany, it drew conclusion of degeneracy most sharply. it reiterated that society was
literally a more or less organized mental system, and beginning in roughly 1889, individual men inundated by nerve stimulation have begun losing their ability to reason. the tension found in european civilization due to advancement and industrialization had caused these men to initiate what she labeled an insane war. there was no doubt, she said, that the pace of life had affected men's minds in a disastrous way, judging by their temper. this is what is especially when men were collected in clusters, and concourses, and parties, in self-conscious national groups, for these groups, these collectives were r thecited that thei motions were uncontrollable.
they became possessed of manias and world by anxiety and fear. and nationalal insanity, often used by writers of the war. , is no figure of speech. period, is no figure of speech. the regimens are exhibited in the literature and the time, and political action, and mentality and behavior of leaders and nations. inspirers' ing of groups. it is argued that a saner world could have avoided the war. instead, europe had lost its progressive movement and became irritable and overstrained, and to euro cynical to think logically about the consequences of war. public debates through war and corey, popular culture -- war
inquiries, popular culture, and intellectual discussion contributed to your revocable damage to bodies and nations. it is worth noting, as i did earlier, that the united states stood distinct, both in treatment and in national understandings. the united states, at least for some, and for a short period of time, believed that they had done it right. they fused progressive practices to field soldiers, and with the help of woodrow wilson, avoided the euroseas of war in 1914. if we were to compare some of the literature and art i have shown you about europe from art and literature at the time in of united states in a period 1918 and 1919, we would see a
very stark difference. often times in american literature, the shell shocked individual is the heroine. all it takes is a crackle of the head with a frying pan or holding their infant child for the first time. the soldiers are instantly cured, and they come out to be the great heroes of the story. it is a very optimistic tone compared to some of the worst we have discussed. -- works we have discussed. the united states had this progressive mindset. they appeared optimistic and in control of both american medicine and of politics. postentral question of the war world would become, who
could repair the irreparable damage that had been brought by years of war? who could restore europe from its shell shocked state? today, as we gather here for the 1916 centennial event at the museum and memorial, i challenge waro remember the legacy of in its medical and cultural effects. shell shock has become an important part of the museum. the horrors of war are pictured in the individual experiences of soldiers and the descriptions of wartime medicine. let us also remember the regarding thetes definition of shell shock and how it would be treated. how the initial
assumption that strong would survive war without limits proved false -- blemish proved false. forget the common saying we often linked to world , should also remind us of our past attempts to treat war's the great, i, and would argue inevitable, mental toll war takes on individuals. thank you. [applause] ladies and gentlemen, i would invite you to either microphone for our time of una. -- q and a. >> thank you for that great talk. i assume you're familiar with todd barker's trilogy about the war.
a two-part question. , obviously it is a novel and not supposed to be accurate, that's not the point of writing fiction, but it is based on real , and a psychiatrist treats them and so forth. do you want to reflect on their treatment? also, both of them obviously go back to the front after they are treated, and i wondered how .ommon that was regeneration has done so well, and i think so many people have read it. i think it is a wonderful work of literature. i think sassoon and a win's experience was quite unique when compared to other individuals.
william rivers was at craig lockhart for a particular moment in time when it did have a very sympathetic and understanding approach to shell shock. i think we see that in rivers' relationship with sassoon. sassoon is an officer. he is a decorated officer at the time he goes there. the story does a good job of capturing that, but not necessarily of what it might have been like to have shell shock if you were someone other than sassoon. yeah. i hope that sort of answers that part of the question. for them to go back to the front , i find -- sassoon is a very interesting case.
he does not really have shell suddenly, in early 1917, but comes so upset -- becomes so upset by the length of the war and what he begins to perceive as political bodies that are pressing this war onwards when individuals are dying. i think he had a real sort of moral conscience in terms of the men under his leadership. i think what happens at craig lockhart is key is essentially convinced to go back, and the patriotism is worth fighting for. what exactly that experience was like for him, i can't really stay to a lot of details, but i can say that a lot of his writings occurred while after
the war. -- well after the war. later in life, he was writing about the horrors of war and shell shock and returning, just being dissatisfied with this social network he was returning to. i think that gives us a glimpse into the fact that i don't think his mentality about more changes. i think he still holds on to that throughout his life. >> last part, are there statistics about how many people returned to the front aftertreatment? there are not a lot of statistics about those who return. great britain, for the majority of the war, has their treatment facility in england. they don't do the front line clinics. most people, i would argue -- this is a bad way to say it -- a ,ore distinctive shell shock
like the pictures i had shown, do not return. they stay in great britain. in the american case, i think many were sent back. i think they did a lot of single day treatments in the field right behind lines, and they sent them back out. the goal was to send various -- send very few back to the united states, and i think they accomplished that fairly well. >> thank you. if you have any information about what people felt like at home, both during and after the war, about soldiers that were affected by shell shock, whether they were treated properly or not. and kind of the background to my patents is, i think of incident, andmous
, i believe, in the raf during the second world war, there was a lack of moral fiber category. it seems like the lesson did not stick, at least in some corridors. ms. stagner: at home and what people thought, i think really varied depending on the nation. great britain at the beginning of the war, there is not a lot of sensitivity for these guys. are not physically wondered, why can't you find? that is our duty, you need to be there. i think that's pervasive. i think that public understanding and concern for the way soldiers were treated
increases with public dissatisfaction with the war, and sort of reaches its climax in the postwar period, and i think there is a correlation there with how they perceive the individual soldiers. a the united states, it's little bit different because they really are honored as he rose. if someone is shellshocked, it is kind of cool, it's like, a physicaler than wound, because it shows true bravery in which you have put yourself in a condition where there is all kinds of trauma, and you have pushed through and on this for your country. there is a kind of on or with it in the u.s. that does not exist in europe. the world war ii and patton, that is a really fascinating story. in my work, i argue that what
happens, it is very specific to the u.s. context. shell shock is used in the u.s. a diagnosis, a term, a valid war injury. you can be diagnosed with shell shock, you are taken to a hospital, you are treated by a certain series of steps. comprehensive system that the u.s. military will use for psychological treatments until well into the vietnam war. the reason i think there was this moment in world war ii is because the u.s. military invested so heavily in world war i treatment. they had the best doctors in the united states on the western front. these are guys from harvard, johns hopkins, columbia, better treating these soldiers, and there had been money poured into these field hospitals, and they are doing everything they can, and yet after the war there is population ofarge
individuals who return who claim to be shellshocked and become permanently disabled. i think for the u.s. military, there's almost a feeling that, well, we try treatment and it did not work, therefore shell shock must be caused by something else. if we tried treatment and our treatment does not work, it must be because it is hereditary, and it is within the soldier and something no medical technology could ask or steel -- could fix or heal. by the time we get to world war ii, they did not include inchologist or psychiatrists the military units, and instead they invest heavily in screening . the idea is we have already screened out all those people who would suffer from shell shock. if you suffer in the field, it
must be because you are just being a pansy, right, and you , because shellp shock is hereditary and those people are tier. it is a much less -- are not here. it is a much less empathetic approach than world war i. >>-. .- hi between any distinction the medical literature between what you would call an acute incident versus accumulative? a time these going up by where these guys have been in the western front for a year or two, which is very different than somebody involved in one attack. not to say that might not be terribly traumatic. did that result in any management in terms of rotating units to try to reduce the cumulative stress? ms. stagner: i think doctors
definitely tried to find that association. oft is the magic combination events and pressures that caused someone to snap, as they might say? have been they without food for two weeks and they are malnourished and tired because they have not slept, and they have been under bombardment and the this dramatic thing happens? in the literature, they are careful to document everything that has happened to that soldier before the onset of symptoms, and i think that's why. i think that doctors are at a loss as to what that combination is. it's certainly time on the western front makes, i would argue, tremendous difference in how they are treated. and you asked a second part to your question that i have
forgotten. >> did it involve any sort of rotation of units? ms. stagner: right. force, which i am most familiar with, there are psychologists or psychiatrists placed with each unit, and they are responsible for pulling men out when they begin to see signs. out,will pull those men they will take them back to a field hospital, or maybe somewhere quiet, let them rest for a few weeks, and then send them back to the front. of a does become sort preventative strategy, if you will come up for trying to recognize that early and not -- not the convention letting her condition worsened. worsened -- tion >> i am running about a vietnam
veteran who discovered he had ptsd sometime after the war. he went to the veterans hospital in topeka, and they told him to write his trauma. that sounds a little bit like what happened with siegfried sassoon and the other gentleman. i'm wondering if that was something they prescribed, or if that was just something that mr. session date on his own -- mr. sassoon did on his own. think that happened after world war i before modern diagnoses of ptsd. first off, did sassoon do that on his own, or was that something the doctors talked about and prescribed? i think for siegfried sassoon, it was both. i think that for that writing
useda was definitely during the first world war. it's interesting to me the variety of techniques that american physicians tried. they have soldiers painting, they had soldiers doing occupational therapy, things with their hands, crafts. they put them in farms to help them try to heal. they are doing talk therapy. there is a lot of attempt to inember the event fully order to be able to process it, if that makes sense. >> it sounds like modern ptsd treatments are in some ways a trip back to the future. ms. stagner: yeah, it's interesting. once i talked about this period in world war ii where they
talked about, we don't need treatment, let's get rid of it. all that was brought back during the vietnam war, and they refer back to thomas salmon and his writings. he was the one who designed the treatments and processes for world war i. there is a direct correlation between what happens in vietnam and what happened in world war one. >> thank you for this very dramatic presentation, because it is interesting to see how people, with their unsophisticated knowledge of neurology, grappled with this subject. i have been curious to know whether some scientists have done the definitive clinical through the explanation for exactly what happened to these individuals that suffer from shell shock. that's the first part of the question. i would love to know why it happened to some and not others. my grandfather was buried by shells.
he was a quiet farmer from pennsylvania. i would also like to know whether the germans sustained as many cases as english, the french, and the americans. did one country present with more cases of shell shock? in other words, ultimately, why did it happen to some and not to others? i would like to know if there is a modern explanation for this. will answer the second part first, about german cases. paul lerner has done an excellent study on german cases on shell shock. in part, when he argues is that reterpretations of cu become very different based on the national context in which the soldiers are placed. after the first world war, there are many shell shock cases in germany, what they referred to as male hysteria. deemed cured when they
can again work. is yournition of cure ability to be a sufficient work or and participate in the state. many of those soldiers never returned to their families. they developed group homes, barracks for them to live in. those soldiers are cured because of their ability to work. what constitutes cure, how many are diagnosed definitely has component, but there are definitely large numbers of german cases. as far as the clinical definitions of shell shock and a definitive study, there are definitely some cases that have tried to look at shell shock in a lot of detail and really play out what individual cases and what happened.
anthony babington is one that looked at the british case. i always caution about studies ideas andresent just medical terms placed on another time. -- another time period, because the concept of what shell shock was was so culturally embedded, it is hard to make those comparisons. .lthough certainly people do historians have done great work doing that. some individuals who argue, well, if we looked at achilles, there are signs of shell shock. and we look at civil war and world war i, and there is , to what i believe, there is trauma through every war. bodyay in which the
exhibits trauma i think is very culturally based. ofwe were to look at films soldiers under shell shock tookment, the stills i from the hospital are from a film, and those soldiers exhibit trauma very differently than soldiers today with ptsd. it is an interesting comparison, trying to figure out what actually was going on. >> our last question come from this gentleman. quitesounds like you are familiar with current ptsd, the gulf war in iraq and all that. soldiers are "volunteers." at thebody looked difference between that and conscription as in vietnam and world or to, world war i, and the civil war?
i particularly emphasize the civil war. we need to remember also that post-traumatic stress disorder and shell shock are waste back terms,re wastebasket medically speaking. what about brain chemicals in response to stress? manifest themselves differently in different people. has anybody looked at some of those issues. you sort of alluded to them. ms. stagner: thank you for that question. i think it is a good one to it into taiwan, bringing what happened or one to the president day. -- a good want to build on, bringing what happened in world war i to the present day. i think it is understanding that there is a real psychological component going on. wars, weven in present are still dealing with this distinction between
posttraumatic stress disorder, , post traumatic brain injuries, and when did they overlap? what is the brain doing under stress? what does the brain due under the impact of an explosion? i think that there has been a lot of work done on brain chemicals, as you suggested, and i think that work really is continuing now. i saw a recent article that talked about doing an mri of a soldier's brain and seeing how being in an explosion had affected the brain and might behavior or emotions and stuff like that. i think that the interesting thing for me, the volunteer
versus conscription, i don't think that there's necessarily a difference in the number or type of individual affected. time,k it is based on circumstance, the number of traumas that soldier has experienced. it's just you are at the wrong moment at the wrong time. these symptoms develop. that i interesting is sympathy for ptsd i will be as great as it was in great britain and germany after the wars because they are volunteers. that's something that i find really interesting to think about. does volunteering, what does that do to our understandings of
what a soldier should experience, or what the consequence of that volunteering is? in thankingin me dr. annessa stagner. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: you are watching american history tv. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. on lectures in history, iowa state university professor tracy cht teaches a class on women journalists in the late 19th and early 20th century. she discusses the careers of some pioneers and the societal pressures for women writers to balance traditional femininity and having a career in journalism. this class is about an hour. good morning. thank you for being here today.