Relating to War
Post traumatic stress disorder has existed as long as there has been trauma. Although PTSD is not limited to war experience, it was battle that brought it to public attention. During early war periods, post traumatic stress disorder was referred to by many names such as "shell shock," "exhaustion" and "battle fatigue."
Throughout history, there have been accounts of soldiers fleeing the battlefield, having emotional breakdowns and suffering the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. In 1678, Swiss military physicians were among the first to identify and group behaviors of PTSD (although it was not called this).
During the American Civil War, military physicians attributed many emotionally disabling behaviors to stress and fear of battle. Military physicians were at a loss to treat the soldiers so many were sent home with no supervision. The symptoms of battle related stress were dismissed as lack of discipline and cowardice.
In 1905, during their war with the Japanese, the Russian army was the first to connect mental collapse with the stress of war and accept it as a legitimate condition.
World War I produced many psychiatric casualties and during this period, symptoms of PTSD were still viewed as a weakness in character. Some soldiers fled the battlefield as they were so traumatized by the mass slaughter. Such was the ignorance of the time about the mental effects of war that some of these soldiers were accused of being cowards and executed.
During the Korean War, combat stress became a clear factor of psychological breakdown. Following the end of combat, it was observed that symptoms were re-emerging in veterans who had experienced the anxiety during the war. Symptoms of intense anxiety, aggression and depression had also developed in veterans who had not experienced symptoms during combat.
A large number of veterans were affected following the Vietnam War. PTSD was largely disregarded for decades. After much research, study, and suffering on the part of war veterans it began to be recognized as a legitimate condition.