Article

Psychiatric Casualties

Eric Dorn Brose

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0048
Psychiatric Casualties

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Most readers from the United States, Britain, and many other countries who have yet to investigate the extensive literature on the topic of psychiatric casualties will no doubt remember the scene in the motion picture Patton (1970), in which George C. Scott’s character, General George Patton, strikes a soldier who is not physically wounded but who had broken down emotionally in combat. Patton actually struck two soldiers in Sicily, in August 1943, about a week apart, and the resulting controversy threatened his career. The so-called slapping incidents are a useful introductory window through which to view this topic, for they demonstrate, first, that the long-held, deeply entrenched, traditional view of psychiatric breakdown in combat as solely a “lack of character” issue had not died out as late as 1943 (this despite the experience of World War I) and, second, that even beforehand (witness the controversy), views were indeed changing and becoming more tolerant. Cowardice and fraudulent behavior on the battlefield do happen, but they do not explain all or even most cases of mental breakdown.

Article.  10244 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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