Shell Shock

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We are now acutely aware of the effect which viewing or participating in traumatic events can have on people. This last ‘document’ (actually a set of film clips) is about such outcomes. It has no words by the mentally troubled, but it does have the other components that lay and professional alike use to identify mental state: body language, appearance, and behaviour. The symptoms of what First World War soldiers called ‘shell shock’ included fatigue, tremor, limb paralysis, pain, breathing problems, nausea, muteness, confusion, nightmares, and impaired sight and hearing. Paralysis and sensory impediments with no apparent biological basis or necessary connection to a specific event were central to the diagnosis.

SOURCE: War Neuroses: Netley Hospital, 1917. Segment 1: film of victims of shell shock. Wellcome Library, London, b1667864

IMAGE: Wellcome Library, London, L0003888. The Nursing Sisters of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. From: The Navy and Army Illustrated vol. 4, 33 (1897), p. 215. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

This week’s document is a short film clip, available through the Wellcome Library.  You can access the link here or use the link below.  Please note you’ll need Flash Player 8 or higher in order to view the media player.

 Watch film clip

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