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Louis Crocq

The Psychic Injuries of Great War 1914-1918 - Publication date : October 1, 2014

Louis Crocq is a psychiatrist for the French armed forces and a professor of psychology at Paris-V University. Following the bomb attacks in the Paris Métro in 1995 he created a network of medical-psychological emergency units. He is the author of many works, including Les Traumatismes psychiques de guerre and 16 Leçons sur le trauma.

After the Armistice of 11 November 1918, France honoured its dead and celebrated the survivors. The victims of physical injuries, including the ‘broken gargoyles’ who had suffered terrible facial disfigurement, were recognised, given medical treatment and pensions — but what happened to those who had suffered mental trauma? What happened to veterans who survived near-death experiences or were buried under bombed-out shelters? What happened to those who witnessed in horror as their fellow soldiers were ripped apart by shrapnel? Or to those who, waiting to attack from behind trenches reinforced with corpses, watched as the comrades ahead of them were mown down by German machine guns?
The injuries of these veterans were never recognised; instead they were ignored and even denied. Once peace was restored, the war-weary population tried to get back to its former occupations and amusements — thus inflicting on the veterans suffering from ‘invisible’ injuries their second trauma, the trauma of oblivion and indifference.
This book aims to correct this injustice. Based on a large number of clinical cases, from mental confusion to war hysteria and shell shock, it shows how psychiatrists’ approach evolved, so that emotional shock began to take precedence over physical concussion. It shows how the notion of war neuroses gradually imposed itself, thus enabling a better understanding of the lengthy persistence of symptoms and opening the way for more humane therapeutic methods.

• A little-known aspect of the First World War, by a renowned specialist on war trauma.
• The author describes various hidden aspects of the Great War: how soldiers suffering from mental confusion and trauma were shot as deserters; the evolution of treatments, from electric shock to efforts to identify the significance of different symptoms; the wartime behaviour of such major figures in psychiatry as Freud and Ferenczi, among others.