I can not agree with you more. Treatment of what we call mental illness is
still evolving and in some ways even the illnesses are evolving.
You are so right about the difficulty of talking about your illness. Since
my diagnosis I know what caused my behavior patterns. Actually I should
have guessed something was wrong after I returned from Vietnam. I promised
my closest friend over there that I would write him as soon as I got back.
Weeks pasted but I could not write him. In the middle of the night I would
wake up with a panic attack and start to cry because I could not write him.
I could not understand why. One of the major symptoms of PTSD is avoidance.
Somehow subconsciously I did not write my friend because I did not want to
be reminded of Vietnam. When I returned from Vietnam I tried to explain to
my parents what it was like. Amazingly they did not listen to me and then
THEY started telling me what it was like. After that first day I did not
talk about Vietnam to anyone for 25 years. All the other Veterans at the VA
hospital where I am being treated had exactly the same experience.
The last few months have been somewhat of a catharsis. Recently I was
preparing documentation to submit to the VA to prove that my PTSD was
service related. A soldier was killed very close to me during a mortar and
rocket attack. All I knew about him was that he had one month left to go,
was married, was transferred from Germany and his wife gave birth to a child
the month before he was killed. On line I was able to obtain his name and
other information. I called his home town VFW, American Legion, and the
local genealogical society. The president of the genealogical society sent
me his obituary and I submitted it to the VA as part of my documentation.
A few weeks after receiving the obituary, I received a large envelope with
the dead soldier's surname in the return address. I started shaking and
crying and I asked my wife to sit with me while I opened the envelope. It
was a letter from his wife and brother along with a newspaper account of the
attack on my base. The baby that was born a month before he died is now 33
years old and she asked me to keep in touch with her. This was a tremendous
shock to me after all these years but I believe keeping in touch with her
will help me.
When I was drafted I had just graduated from college as an accounting major.
I just served my time and resumed my career upon returning to the states
starting work in two weeks. I never identified myself as a veteran, army
person whatever, that was laughable at the time. Little did I realize how
much that experience changed my life.
My story of course is not at all unique. The moron that we have as a
president is carefully preparing the American people for war. Congress
should require this asshole to read the 58.000 names on the Vietnam memorial
and visit all the veterans hospitals before he makes any decisions. This
war is not about anything other than oil.
Most likely I will be thrown off this list for being too political and
personal. If I broke the ground rules, I apologize.
>From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Some Queries, was Re: Deluge...
>Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 16:37:37 -0500
>Nancy Gish wrote:
> > I'm sorry, but if you want a long list of medical articles from the
> > say quite differently, let me know. At the turn of the century and up
> > through the war, "hysteria" was a broad term that did indeed include
> > shock and what we would call post-traumatic stress. I only said
> > "neurasthenia" was hard to distinguish, and there is a long text making
> > that claim and giving charts of differences that then got quoted by many
> > doctors. On this you are factually wrong as to what the terms meant
> > As I spent many, many weeks reading on this at the Bodlian last year, I
> > am quite certain of my terminology.
>Nancy, the proposition here is not that you are/were wrong; the
>proposition is that the psychiatry of the time was wrong. I would go
>further and say our present psychiatry is almost certainly incoherent
>and incomplete. The psychiatry of 1920 (with some qualification) has the
>same kind of interest that the psychiatry of 1850 or (before it was
>called psychiatry) of 1714 had:
> Here sighs a Jar, and there a Goose-pye talks;
> Men prove with Child, as pow'rful Fancy works,
> And Maids turn'd Bottels, call aloud for Corks.
> (Rape of the Lock, iv, 52-54)
>And this lack of knowledge (on the part of both professionals and the
>general public) would have radically transformed the symptoms. Let me
>illustrate what I mean by a recent experience of my own. I haven't
>suffered from what I call "plain vanilla depression" since early 1999 --
>but apparently I am permanently afflicted with acute anxiety whenever I
>make a promise to do something or when events impose such a choice. I
>had a (surprise) extraction a 10 days ago, and it was right next to a
>bridge, which fell out in the process. They glued it back in temporarily
>and made an appointement for this last Wednesday to have pins put in to
>hold it. A couple hours after I got home, the bridge fell out. I did the
>sensible thing. I put it in a baggie to take with me the next week. That
>was Wednesday evening. Then on Thursday I wondered if perhaps I should
>call the dentist's office and inquire. The sort of thing that, as I said
>in an earlier post, made Pound's "mortal fatigue of action postponed"
>reverberate for me, set in, and I didn't call. The office was closed on
>Friday, and by Thursday evening I was frozen and had talked myself into
>believing that it was essential to have called. I _knew_ otherwise, but
>I couldn't believe otherwise. Neither could I call on Monday or Tuesday,
>and for those five days (Friday through Tuesday) I couldn't read,
>couldn't do simple business, etc. etc. etc. Of course when I went in
>Wednesday, the technician merely chuckled and said, "I didn't think it
>That is semi-acute anxiety. Some friends have it much worse. But at
>least, even when it is wracking me, I know abstractly what it is, and my
>wife knows enough not to laugh at me or try seriously to convince me of
>what I already know. And friends in the Depressive & Manic Depressive
>Support Group will know exactly how I felt. Now suppose that happening
>in a context in which _no one_, not professionals and not friends or
>relatives or the sufferer him/herself, could see such behavior or such
>feelings as anything but a serious character flaw or real hallucination
>-- just plain crazy and idiotic -- shameful! Clearly for many it would
>spin out of control: you would end up with the sort of "madmen" and
>"madwomen" who supplied Sunday-afternoon entertainment at Bedlam for
>visitors in mid-18th century London.
>So whatever names they gave, and whatever symptoms they described, the
>"mental illnesses" of 1920 would have been in substantial ways
>_different_, for mental illness is not like a broken arm, or even a case
>of TB, for each case is a constant interplay between "it" and the
>responses of those around, the whole life history of the sufferer.
>Fifty years from now "Depression" (if they still call it that) will be a
>quite different condition than Depression now. And in fact, the "Shell
>Shock" of a WW 2 soldier, the combat fatigue of a soldier in France in
>1944, and Bob Summer's PTSD are both the same and not the same. (For
>example, very few of the earlier 'victims' could have spoken of it (even
>in the semi-anonymity of a listserv) as Bob has done, or as I have done
>just now of my illness. That makes it different.
> > Cheers,
> > Nancy
> > Date sent: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 12:13:58 -0700
> > Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
><[log in to unmask]>
> > From: Francis Gavin <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Some Queries, was Re: Deluge...
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Both neurasthenia and hysteria are considered quaint antiquated terms in
> > medical circles. Hysteria is sometimes used in a very limited way to
> > describe disassociation in personality formation, neurasthenia not at
> > Neither one has anything to do with battle fatigue or PTSD, which are in
> > turn, two different things.
> > GAVIN
> > on 9/28/02 10:26 AM, Nancy Gish at [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > > "Shell Shock" is what they called hysteria and we
> > > would probably call post-traumatic stress disorder. In any case,
> > > was a very extensive literature on it that actually goes back a couple
> > > of thousand years to ancient Egypt. Vittoz specifically wrote on
> > > "neurasthenia."
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