The Infamous Collection Of Lasting Mental Effects Of Warfare

1824 WordsMay 15, 20168 Pages
The infamous collection of lasting mental effects of warfare has been classified as a disorder known by many names: shell shock, Soldier’s Heart, and combat fatigue. Today, this disorder is classified as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, PTSD symptoms include persistent nightmares, constant avoidance of trauma-associated stimuli, and emotional numbing that was not present before trauma. PTSD is unlike other mental disorders because it is linked to a specific traumatic event, and it is often associated with combat (Institute 1). World War I was the catalyst for interest and research on war neuroses; at the time,…show more content…
Following the Vietnam War, research began to accelerate in response to the influx of suffering veterans. The Vietnam War helped extend the study of PTSD because it led to the growing use of media to raise public awareness, the establishment of large-scale psychological studies on Vietnam veterans, and the realization of the importance of accurate psychiatric diagnoses. The Vietnam War profoundly affected many Vietnam soldiers after they left the homeland, and the media had an immense influence on how these individuals were treated in America. The returning soldiers showed all of the typical symptoms of what psychiatrists now understand as PTSD: difficulty sleeping, an overly sensitive reaction to stimuli, and flashbacks. For instance, Sonny Hartwell, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, recounted the constant uncertainty he experienced during the war, “War is a strange thing. You spend so much time with nothing to do and the boredoms of every day existence [sic] in a camp-like setting and then all hell breaks loose. That might last for just a few seconds, but the terror and trauma that you go through in just that minute to few seconds can be mind boggling” (Stein 12). Hartwell’s story was one of many, and yet, early editions of the DSM had very little information on war neurosis during the 1960s (Stein 11). Veterans were often considered delusional and even misdiagnosed as LSD addicts,
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