Shell Shock

shellshockBrowsing through my social media sites, I kept coming across a video of Patrick Stewart answering a fan’s question. Captions for the video included, “heart shattering response to fan’s question,” and ” a beautiful answer that will touch your heart,” among others.

I like Patrick Stewart. I enjoyed his roles as Leondegrance in Excalibur, Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies (although I didn’t care for the movies themselves), and even the short role he played in the 80’s B-Flick (my favorite genre) Lifeforce.

Normally I don’t bother with these types of stories with the attempts at interest-grabbing headlines. Because of the frequency in which this video showed up everywhere I turned, and given my fondness for Patrick Stewart, I played the video.

(I turned on closed-captioning so I could read what was being said. The volume is pretty low.)

When Stewart spoke of his father’s experience with shell shock, I was instantly reminded of this video:

“There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum. Can’t take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap.

“In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves.

“That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.

“Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

“Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’ll bet you if we’d of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I’ll betcha. I’ll betcha.”

– – – – –

I’m afraid I have lost track of what awareness month this is. There are so many these days that I am not exactly sure what I should be aware of. So today I’m recalling my awareness of PTSD.

After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Help is available! (Links provided by U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. If you know of other agencies, please link them in the comment section below.)

Here you’ll find links to the websites of trauma centers and other organizations that deal with trauma, PTSD, and related topics.



Categories: Veteran's Issues

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6 replies

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