” … she claims her research shows that rather than dementia, Lord Douglas was in fact suffering from post traumatic stress disorder – a term only officially coined in 1980. Of course the terms “shell-shock” and “war neurosis” had been around since the First World War, but as Katherine points out they were associated with front-line soldiers who had endured the appalling conditions of the trenches, and not “a sick old man” reliving the awful experiences of signing people’s lives away in post-war Germany.
The mental and physical effects of PTSD were particularly misunderstood with regard to military leaders.
“There is a great reluctance to show weakness”, Campbell says, one which she fears persists today.
Her new book, Behold the Dark Grey Man, is being supported by Dr Walter Busuttil, the medical director of the charity Combat Stress, as well as retired and serving military commanders. But Campbell fears that many other dwindling members of the Second World War generation will, like her father, be misdiagnosed with dementia as they reach the end of their lives.
As she writes of her father’s undiagnosed trauma: “It’s like a wound that keeps being reopened, becoming increasingly sore with each insult. Eventually, the person’s whole being is affected by the trauma, not just the brain and nervous system, with increasing physical as well as psychological morbidity.””
Comment: A very sweet and loving book. The Israelis really invented the term. That is kind of funny in a country where they never fight very long and always against second or third rate enemies. Some people are destroyed by this kind of stress and others “suck it up” and integrate it into their personalities. I have seen all varieties of this. pl
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