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October 18, 2017

12 Harrowing Vintage Photos of Soldiers in Complete Shell Shock

“They were very pathetic, these shell shocked boys.”
Shell shock is a phrase coined in World War I to describe the type of posttraumatic stress disorder many soldiers were afflicted with during the war. It is reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic and being scared, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk.

During the War, the concept of shell shock was ill-defined. Cases of 'shell shock' could be interpreted as either a physical or psychological injury, or simply as a lack of moral fibre. The term shell shock is still used by the Veterans Administration to describe certain parts of PTSD but mostly it has entered into popular imagination and memory, and is often identified as the signature injury of the War.

In World War II and thereafter, diagnosis of 'shell shock' was replaced by that of combat stress reaction, a similar but not identical response to the trauma of warfare and bombardment.

These photos of soldiers with shell shock are some of the most disturbing pictures of war, for they show a side of war not often discussed – the mental toll it takes on soldiers after it is all said and done.

1. The Eyes Of Madness.

France, September 15, 1916

2. Patient Suffering From 'War Neuroses' As Shell Shock Was Referred To

World War I

3. The Thousand-Yard Stare Of A Young Marine

Marshall Islands, February 1944

4. US Patrol Team Leader In Vietnam

Vietnam, 1968

5. Soviet Soldier Stares Blankly Into The Distance

World War II

6. Shell-Shocked WWI Soldier Receiving Treatment At The American Red Cross

France, 1918

7. Soldier Recovering From Shell Shock

Still from a 1917 documentary War Neuroses: Netley Hospital (1917)

8. Australian Soldier With The Thousand-Yard Stare

Australian Dressing Station, Ypres, 1917. The soldier in the bottom left exhibits a typical sign of shell shock – "the thousand-yard stare."

9. Trying To Help A Friend

Still from the documentary film Battle Of The Somme, 1916

10. A Shell-Shocked Soldier Who Was Hit In The Head With A Piece Of Eclat Recovers In The 'Sunshine Room' Of The American Red Cross

France, 1918

11. German Soldier With The Thousand-Yard Stare

World War II

12. Picking Blackberries As A Treatment For Shell Shock In WWI

France, 1918

(via Ranker)

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