World Mental Health Day

We've come a long way. We understand more now than a hundred years ago when a man might end up shot for 'cowardice' as a result of suffering from a trauma - war trauma - that even today isn't always properly understood and treated.

Those that go to war - on our behalf - deserve better. It's not as if any of this is new. A century ago there were those that understood, and that tried - sympathetically - to treat what was called simply 'shell-shock' or neuresthenia.

As Siegfried Sassoon says in the final instalment of his memoirs, recalling his own sympathetic treatment at Craiglockart:

Shell shock. How many a brief bombardment had its long-delayed after-effect in the minds of these survivors, many of whom had looked at their companions and laughed while the inferno did its best to destroy them. Not then was their evil hour; but now; now, in the sweating suffocation of nightmare, in paralysis of limbs, in the stammering of dislocated speech. Worst of all, in the disintegration of those qualities through which they had been so gallant and selfless and uncomplaining this, in the finer types of men, was the unspeakable tragedy of shell-shock ; it was in this that their humanity had been outraged by those explosives which were sanctioned and glorified by the Churches; it was thus that their self-sacrifice was mocked and maltreated- they, who in the name of righteousness had been sent out to main and slaughter their fellow-men. In the name of civilisation these soldiers had been martyred, and it remained for civilisation to prove that their martyrdom wasn’t a dirty swindle. (Sherston's Progress, p. 557)

It's World Mental Health Day today.

Let's not forget those who suffer as a result of combat trauma.


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