On 14th November TAP members and a wider audience welcomed their own administrator Suzie Grogan who talked about her new book entitled Shell Shock Britain, The First World War’s legacy for Britain’s mental health. Suzie’s own family history sparked her interest in the subject; during her extensive research she uncovered how shell shock affected those on the front line and at home.
Shell shock was identified 2000 years ago and in every war since. During the industrial revolution accidents were often triggered by people suffering with PTSD, however they were minimised for fear of compensation claims.
Charles Myers published a paper in The Lancet in 1915 highlighting shell shock, and approximately 80,000 men were officially diagnosed with shell shock by the end of the Great War, but the true figure was nearer 400,000 - 500,000 as people broke down in the post war years and others struggled on, unable to cope with normal living and finding it impossible to speak about their experiences..
During the war soldiers were often treated near the front line and sent back to fight. If they broke down again they would probably be sent home, where treatment for shell shock was divided by class with the ranks being more likely to receive horrific ECT. Talking therapies were introduced in some hospitals. Suzie read from letters and newspapers of the time showing how the raids affected the home front. Women and children were deeply traumatised by the war, but this was unacknowledged by the establishment. The Spanish influenza outbreak, towards the end of the war, killed 200,000 people, often leaving depression in those that survived. Suzie brought the subject alive and was well received by a large audience.
Find out more at www.suziegrogan.co.uk. Shell Shocked Britain was published by Pen & Sword Books in October 2014 and is available here.
The next meeting is on 23rd January 2015 when Matthew Appleton will talk about how relationships begin in the womb. The talk will start at 7.45pm at Taunton United Reform Church, Paul Street. All welcome