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July 6, 1918


Author Affiliations

Edin. (New York) Major, Royal Army Medical Corps; Neurologist, Bellevue and New York Hospitals FRANCE

JAMA. 1918;71(1):17-21. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.26020270001007

For eighteen months the term "shell shock" has been employed in medical literature and, colloquially also, in the British Army to cover all cases of nervous instability occurring in the course of war.

Under this heading have been massed cases of amnesia, anergic stupor, sleeplessness, nightmare, mutism, functional blindness, tremors, palsies, and further, anxiety neuroses, occurring not only under fighting strain but also in individuals who, failing in self confidence, suffer doubts and apprehensions while still waiting for transport overseas. Further, the term became commonly used in newspaper journalism, whence it passed into common speech, always associated with a train of thought in the mind of the speaker, at once fearful and mysterious.

The general acceptance of this term and the apparent recognition by both medical officers and the public of a concrete, and above all quite novel, condition induced by experiences of unimaginable horror—the moving accidents of flood and