Shell Shock in 1915 becomes Combat Fatigue by World War II and PTSD in 1980

In World War I, PTSD—known as shell shock then—was such a problem that ‘forward psychiatry’ was begun by French doctors in 1915. Some British doctors tried general anesthesia as a treatment (ether and chloroform), while others preferred application of electricity.

Imagine suffering from PTSD and being strapped down to a table with electrodes attaches followed by jolts of electricity to shock you healthy.

In 1917, four British ‘forward psychiatric units’ were set up. Hospitals for shell-shocked soldiers were also established in Britain, including (for officers) Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.

Patients diagnosed to have more serious psychiatric conditions were transferred to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum.

Near the end of 1918, the use of anesthetic and electrical treatments to treat shell shock was gradually replaced with modified Freudian psychodynamic intervention. The efficacy of ‘forward psychiatry’ was controversial.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.

In 1922 the British War Office produced a report on shell shock with recommendations for prevention of war neurosis. However, when World War II broke out in 1939, this seems to have been ignored.

Then during World War II, the term ‘combat fatigue’ was introduced as breakdown rates became alarming, and the value of pre-selection was recognized.

At the Maudsley Hospital in London in 1940, barbiturate abreaction (an emotional release resulting from mentally reliving through the process of catharsis, a long-repressed, painful experience) was advocated for quick relief from severe anxiety and hysteria, using i.v. anesthetics: Somnifaine, paraldehyde, Sodium Amytal. ‘Pentothal narcosis’ and ‘narco-analysis’ were adopted by British and American military psychiatrists.

However, by 1945 medical thinking gradually settled on the same approaches that had seemed to be effective in 1918.

The term PTSD was introduced in 1980.

In the UK the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for management (2005) recommend trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and consideration of antidepressants. Source: Pub Med.gov

Discover The public image of PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

Where to Buy

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Advertisements

Benefits for Military Veterans

This is the summary of a longer piece that appeared in the May & June 2010 issue of the AARP Magazine.

There are 23 million veterans in the United States.  About 8 million receive VA benefits.  Some don’t know they are eligible for benefits. I was one of those who didn’t know until a few years ago when another veteran told my wife and a friend that I was eligible.  When I retired from teaching English and journalism in the public schools at sixty, I left the classroom without medical coverage and expected to wait several years before I was eligible for Medicare. Now I have the VA for my medical.

Here are a few facts to know:

1. A service-connected disability need not be a combat injury. Any injury suffered or aggravated while in uniform can be considered—even injuries incurred while traveling to and from National Guard duty.

2. If a veteran’s net pension is below $11,830 for a single vet or $15,493 if married, the VA may provide a pension to bring the veteran’s income up to that level.

3. Eligibility to receive health care at any of the VA’s 1,400 hospitals, clinics and care centers is based on an income test and is not limited to veterans who served during wartime.

4. Limited In-Home care is available to all veterans who meet the income test.

5. Assisted Living—Vets and their spouses who reside in an assisted living facility may qualify for an aid and attendance pension/allowance to help pay for costs of additional care.

6. Prescription drugs—the VA drug plan provides drugs free or for an $8 co-pay, depending on income.

7. Nursing home care—The VA owns and runs 132 nursing homes.

8. VA-guaranteed mortgages—If a vet pays off an old VA mortgage, he or she is eligible to take advantage of this benefit again.

Note: For more information, check the original article at AARP Magazine on-line.

Learn more about PTSD

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

PTSD Vet Charged with Murder

I read this in a headline this morning and thought, there was a time when I could have been that veteran. My anger is unpredictable. Although I work at controlling it and have struggled with that anger for decades, like an earthquake it can strike and sweep away reason at any time.

“Mom befriends wife of PTSD vet charged with murder”.

This piece was written by Joe Mandak for the Associated Press. I read it  in the Contra Costa Times and found a link to The Seattle Times to share here.

 The Seattle Times

The wife of the veteran who is charged with murder is scared. She has received hate mail for what her husband did.

Hate mail like this shows the ignorance that still exists in society–an almost total misunderstanding of what it is like to suffer from PTSD that, like a violent virus, was caught in combat fighting for one’s country.

But there are those that understand, who have suffered from PTSD too. To find out more, click the link and read about Laurie Claar whose son, a combat veteran with PTSD, killed himself.

Learn more about PTSD

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

The Creative Writing Class at war with the Vietnam Vet

The GI Bill helped pay my way through college. In 1971, I was in my third year; attending my third college. My third college was Fresno State. I was in a creative writing class when a debate about the war in Vietnam started after a young girl read her short story about ‘evil’ American pilots dropping bombs on North Vietnamese children.

I was the only Vietnam veteran in the class. I struggled to explain to the obviously brainwashed kids that American pilots dropping bombs over North Vietnam were thousands of feet above the targets and did not see the carnage. They were gone by the time the bombs exploded, and they were following orders. In the military, you followed orders or faced a court martial.

“How could someone sleep at night knowing they had dropped bombs killing innocent children and women,” one girl said. Others joined in, and the discussion turned into an argument. It was them against me. It was frustrating. The consensus was that any American in Vietnam was a baby killer. To them, the American pilots had to know what they were doing and were evil.

Eventually, the professor put a stop to the argument.

My first night in Vietnam, I relayed an order that killed a dozen Vietcong. I never saw the bodies. I never saw them die. I was in the radio tent a hundred yards from the action when a call came from one of the tank commanders saying there was noise in a ravine that led to the top of the hill. During the day, wires had been strung in that ravine with tin cans tied to them and there were rocks in the cans.

The tankers heard the rattle of rocks and called asking for permission to fire napalm into that gully. The officer on watch said yes, and I relayed the order. The tankers lit their flame and fired. The next morning, twelve blackened, burned bodies were found in the ravine. They all had weapons. They were coming to kill United States Marines.

Our colonel had devised a plan, and it succeeded. He had given no orders to build bunkers or spread concertina wire along the perimeter to protect us on our first night in country. The platoon of flame tanks had been left aboard the Navy ship until dark when they were brought ashore and guided to the hill where the platoon of tanks was positioned to protect against an attack.

In Europe during WWII, American bombers firebombed cities nightly during the closing months of the war against Hitler’s Germany. In one night, in one city, forty thousand civilians including women and children had napalm dropped on them. In Japan, firebombs dropped on Tokyo burned a hundred thousand in one day. There were no attempts to avoid hitting civilians to bring Hitler’s Germany and Japan to their knees. It was understood that war was ‘hell,’ and we fought to win. What has changed?

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and WMDs

John Wayne movies molded my young brain, and fired my imagination. As a child, I dreamed of being a hero. Then at nineteen, I went to war and my thinking changed drastically. Narrow escapes from death ended my hero dreams, and I was fortunate to arrive home from Vietnam without a Purple Heart.

They say close only counts in horseshoes. I say it also counts in war. This morning, I awoke thinking about John Kerry and how his reputation was smeared during his presidential campaign.

 John Kerry fought in Vietnam. He was wounded three times. They were not serious wounds, but they drew blood. Even flesh wounds earn Purple Hearts. One wireman in my communications platoon was awarded a Purple Heart. While in the field sleeping in his shelter half, his unit came under attack. Mortar rounds dropped in like hail. Half asleep, he scrambled out, tripped on one of the lines that held his shelter half up, fell and hit his head on something.  He needed stitches. His sergeant put him in for a Purple Heart.

One of the tankers in that action was scrambling to get into his tank. In his rush to get inside the protection the tank offered, he slammed the turret hatch on one of his hands and crushed all the bones in it. He was also awarded a Purple Heart. He earned a ticket home too, and was discharged from the Marines with a VA disability for the crushed hand.

Bob, a history teacher I taught with, was in the Navy and served in Swift Boats like Kerry. Bob was the mechanic that kept the twin engines running. He told me once that the safest place in that swift boat was between the twin engines. On the water, the swift boat was an easy target and the metal hull was thin.

Those of us that did not bleed during combat and never earned Purple Hearts were still changed by narrow escapes from death. I had several and came home with a case of PTSD that still haunts me decades later.

John Kerry’s flesh wounds show that he came close to death. Yet, during his campaign for president, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth cast doubt on his courage, and George W. Bush, the man who used family influence to get into the National Guard and avoid combat, somehow became a hero, walked into the White House and served as president for eight years starting two wars. I have no idea what kind of president John Kerry would have been. I wonder if he would have used bogus evidence for WMDs and invaded Iraq.

Abraham Lincoln said “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Eating Out in Vietnam – 1966

Today, many Americans eat horribly and are willing to die for food. The result, lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are killing hundreds of thousands yearly. Those bad habits were in Vietnam too. One Saturday, I became the designated non-eater when several Marines from my company wanted to leave the bunker and concertina barbed-wire safety of our base camp and walk into the nearest village to eat something other than twenty-year-old C-rations, reconstituted eggs and drink the daily ration of warm, canned Budweiser beer.

Before we left Okinawa, everyone in our company watched films about the dangers of having sex or eating native food in Vietnam. We were told there was a risk of being poisoned or having ground glass sprinkled into the food. After all, we were fighting a war with a phantom enemy, farmers by day and warriors at night. The cook could have been a Viet Cong who couldn’t miss the opportunity to kill a few enemies by adding something to what he or she cooked.

Since I refused to eat native food, I was asked to come along. If any Marines eating the Vietnamese food got sick or died, my job was to shoot the Vietnamese that fed them and any suspects. Six of us went to the village and five ate. The five that ate stacked their weapons and sat at the table eating what was put in front of them.

Flies and bugs buzzed around their food and mouths. There was no way to tell what kind of meat they were eating. The Vietnamese near our base camp ate anything that crawled, walked or flew like dogs, cats, snakes, rats, or monkeys. Hygiene was nonexistent. Human waste was added to the paddies and fields to help fertilize the crops. Even if there were no poison or ground glass added to the food, there was always the risk of coming down with dysentery or some other god-awful disease.

I didn’t sit. I stood in a corner with my back to the wall and held my weapon with both hands. I kept my eyes on the entrance and on every Vietnamese in the place. The safety to my M14 was off and my finger was on the trigger.

Chu Lai was not Saigon. The roads were dirt. The villages were small and the floors inside were also dirt. Those five fellow Marines that wanted to eat something “fresh” may have lacked common sense taking such a risk, but no one died or got sick that day. I watched them finish eating and drink the cool, locally brewed beer from glass bottles. I didn’t have to shoot anyone—not that day. I had no regrets.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Hearing Loss thanks to the M-48 Patton Tank and the 155 mm self-propelled howitzers

The quiet was almost total this morning at 3:00 AM.

There were no crickets, and there was no sound of intruders.  I lay in bed listening for a long time, maybe an hour before I drifted off again.

The familiar static was there that is the only sound when there is no noise outside my head. I’m not sure I’ve heard total silence since Vietnam.

During early morning moments such as this, I remember one night in Vietnam when I lost my sight and hearing.

In Chu Lai, Vietnam, I was a field radio operator in the 1st Tank Battalion, First Marine Division.

The M-48 Patton had a 90 mm cannon. The M-48 was separated into three compartments: the driver’s compartment, the fighting compartment where the gunner, loader, and tank commander [TC] fought, and the engine compartment.

Above the main gun was a 1 million candlepower Xenon searchlight. This light had both a white light and an infrared mode. It was bore sighted with the main gun and gun sights so that it could be used to illuminate a target at night.

Hearing those 90 mm cannons firing may have contributed to the static in my hearing today.

However, one night, a battery of  M-109 (called the Paladin), 155 mm self-propelled howitzers gets the most credit for that static.

That battery fired a surprise mission.

At two AM, I was standing watch in a hillside bunker above the M-109s, and I was struggling to stay alert and awake.

Without warning, the battery fired.

What little hair I had on my head stood at attention, and the combined flashes left me blind for a moment with dancing spots staying longer, but the loud buzzing in my ears stayed for hours.

My head felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton. All sound was dampened for some time.

By the way, field radio operators did not ride in tanks. We had a jeep with a canvas top. A large radio filled the space behind the front seats.

When we weren’t driving around in old WWII vintage radio jeeps, we hoofed it with a radio strapped to our backs and our old batteries were often dead before we used them.

The radio we arrived with in Vietnam with was a PRC 10. There was no armor to protect field-radio operators in the field. Field-radio operators were usually the first to be shot in an ambush.

The patrol leader was the second priority target.

Discover Children as Soldiers and Weapons of Death

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”