From “Battle Fatigue” to a Mental Condition: A History of PTSD

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Helpful Things To Say To Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Michelle Monet



PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and yet no one truly understand the pain behind it, and the trauma one must experience to even be solely diagnosed with this condition. No one can fathom the amount of terror and trauma people go through who have this condition. One group most affected by this issue are soldiers and veterans. A soldier named Huerta gives an explanation behind his PTSD; “…one day in September 2010, five years after I last left the battlefield. I don’t know what the trigger was. Maybe it was the young Soldier, a mother of two who was just redeployed, who I watched cut down after she hanged herself weeks after returning from battle earlier. Maybe it was the faces of the children I see on all the doors I knocked on to tell them their father or mother was not coming home. Maybe it was because it was the same time of year when my uniform was covered with the blood and brains of a 6-year-old Iraqi child who was caught in an IED during Ramadan” (Huerta “Leaving the battlefield: Soldier shares story of PTSD”).


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Facebook For Veterans With PTSD By Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski


My Interest:

PTSD has always been an topic that I have been interested in. PTSD is something that I have always had in the back of my mind, and something I believe should be something that should be a major focus in our society. This issue is something that affects millions of people worldwide, so this should be a worldwide effort to fix it. I was struck by how PTSD is never in the center spotlight, even though so many people are being affected by this condition. At the start of this project, I didn’t know much about the history of PTSD and how it changed over the centuries, but it was something I really enjoyed learning about, and seeing how PTSD changed with the times. My mother is a guidance counselor that extensively studied this particular topic, and this was an issue that I had heard about and wanted to dive into the history and issues surrounding this mental condition. 


The History of PTSD:

PTSD wasn’t officially recognized as a mental condition until 1980, but records going back to as far as 2,000 years ago talk about Greek soldiers having trouble leaving the battle behind; “Mentions of combat stress can be found nearly 2,000 years ago in historical literature, with one of the first mentions by Herodotus in fifth century Ancient Greece. By the 1800s, mentions of PTSD in relation to combat and war zone participation were merely characterized as ‘battle exhaustion’ or ‘soldier’s fatigue’” (“History of PTSD”). By the 1800s, mentions of PTSD in relation to combat and war zone participation were merely characterized as ‘battle exhaustion’ or ‘soldier’s fatigue’” (“History of PTSD”). As the article states, as late as 1850 reports were only calling it “battle exhaustion” or “soldiers fatigue”. Another example from the early history of PTSD is mentioned in an article from when it states that “in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest surviving major work of literature (dating back to 2100 B.C.), the main character Gilgamesh witnesses the death of his closest friend, Enkidu. Gilgamesh is tormented by the trauma of Enkidu’s death, experiencing recurrent and intrusive recollections and nightmares related to the event” (“PTSD and Shell Shock”). An article from The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs states that “The American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) mark the start of formal medical attempts to address the problems of military Veterans exposed to combat. European descriptions of the psychological impact of railroad accidents also added to early understanding of trauma-related conditions” (“PTSD, National Center for PTSD”). PTSD was first considered to be a mental condition in 1952, when “gross stress reaction” was included in DSM-I, which is the “the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association and offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders” (Wikipedia “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”). This was the first step of many to recognizing PTSD as a mental condition. However, in 1968 “gross stress reaction” was dropped by the DSM-II, setting those who suffered from this condition back to where they started many years ago. Moving forward, after the Vietnam war, Chaim Shatan, a Canadian psychologist, brought up something he called “Vietnam combat reaction”, but it wasn’t until finally in 1980 when DSM-III, included “posttraumatic stress disorder”, giving those who had this condition the validation they had need for literally thousands of years. In modern society, PTSD hasn’t been very present. However, the popular show Grey’s Anatomy introduced a character with combat related PTSD in 2008. Also, the 2017 Netflix – Marvel show The Punisher had PTSD at the forefront of the main character’s mind. Although it is never said out loud, PTSD plays a major role in the development of show. In an article from Vox, Sean Illing writes that “it doesn’t stop there, though. The show also zooms out and tries to examine what happens to veterans when they return to a country that idealizes them in speech but neglects them in deed. I’m a veteran myself and while I’ve experienced nothing like what the characters on this show experience, the way it handles life after deployment resonated. I’ve seen people struggle with this transition and the anguish of the characters felt authentic even if it was, at times, overly dramatized. Showrunner Steve Lightfoot is British, which makes him an interesting choice to tell what seems like a quintessentially American story of violence and grief. I spoke to him about the controversy over the show’s use of violence and what he hoped to help the American public understand about the PTSD haunting veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan” (Sean Illing “The Punisher is the best pop culture depiction of PTSD in America”).


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Asmus Jakob Carstens, “Sorrowful Ajax with Tecmessa and Eurysaces” (c. 1791)


Present Day Issue:

In modern society, PTSD is an issue that has never been at the forefront of the American knowledge. While there are many people advocating for PTSD to be a bigger concern in recent conversations, this condition isn’t receiving the serious help that it deserves. There has been a pattern with this issue, and this pattern is the fact that it is always been disregarded in the grander scheme of things.This is a major issue for the movement and the struggles it is trying to show to the American people. On top of this, the drugs that veterans are getting don’t help whatsoever. Most veterans who go the VA, or the Department of Veteran Affairs get drugs that completely change who they are as a person, and take away what they are trying to regain. However, this doesn’t mean that PTSD isn’t talked about, books like The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien) talk about PTSD the connection it has with suicide. This is one small step to fix the bigger issues that surround PTSD, and it doesn’t stop here. In an article by Caroline Carney from Magellan Health Insights , she states that “Movies such as Ordinary People and Mystic River portray the effects that loss and abuse have on families and individuals. The daily ease of access to images on the internet and television puts the fodder for PTSD in front of all exposed to electronic media. We have only to listen to the news to learn of all the possible inputs that can cause PTSD—the tornado that sweeps through a Midwest town, atrocities happening to people in places such as Syria, beheadings, and stories of abused children. PTSD can affect one individual at a time, or a lone event can bring PTSD into the lives of many with a single swath” (Carney “A Present Day Look at PTSD”). 


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“Painting Past the Effects of PTSD” by Jennifer Bullock, NBC4i


Although it sounds relatively tame, the best way for a veteran to help their PTSD is through repetitive therapy. Hector Garcia, a world renowned psychologist who is one who is at the forefront of the PTSD movement and contributes heavily to its research made a TED talk on this exact issue of veterans who suffer from PTSD and the therapy they need. He explains how when soldiers are trained for war, they go through the same actions over and over again, until they can do it without thinking. He uses this same process of repetitive action to “retrain” the soldiers to return home. he has had many success stories with this type of therapy, and this is just one of the steps to help people who suffer from PTSD. Click on the link below to see the section of the video where Garcia talks about the therapies that he has implemented. This is just the start of a much larger and better process concerning PTSD and the solutions that are available. The tools are there to be used, all we need is the right direction. In the actual medical field, John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”, also talked about veterans suffering from PTSD in his episode about Medical Marijuana and how it has greatly helped the veteran community, and why it being illegal in most states causes problems for the people who desperately need it. Although his video is mostly a factual look at the medical marijuana industry, he brings up a few good points about the benefits of the new help available. Oliver makes a good point when he says that most veterans should not have to put up with the struggles of having PTSD on top of the VA failing to accomplish its main task. You can see his segment on veteran health by clicking on the link down below, which will take you to that part of the episode.


Hector Garcia TED talk

John Oliver Medical Marijuana Veteran Health Segment



In conclusion, PTSD is a very convoluted issue which has many sections and stories that can’t easily be solved. However that doesn’t mean that it can’t be solved. PTSD and the people who suffer from it should be something that should be a major priority for discussions in our modern society, more than it is already. There are many therapies that stand ready to help as many veterans and individuals who suffer from PTSD as possible. The focus should be making sure these people are getting the help they need.


If you are someone who wants to help the people suffering from this mental condition, the link down below and it will take you to a website with many foundations and charities, and they would appreciate any form of donations that you can give. Thanks!


Thanks so much for reading and checking out my webpage! If you wouldn’t mind, there’s a feedback survey down below that I would really appreciate you going through and letting me know what I can improve about this page. My works cited with all my sources is below at the very bottom of the page, if you want to see what information and sources I used. Feel free to do some further research with my sources, if this was an interesting topic. Thanks so much and I hope this helped you learn something about this important issue in our society.




Works Cited:


Board, The Editorial. “A Lifeline for Troubled Veterans.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2017,®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection.


Bullock, Jennifer. “ Painting Past the Effects of PTSD.” NBC4i, NBC4i,


Carstens, Asmus Jakob. “Staging Greek Trauma A Review of Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today.” Eidolon, 19 Nov. 2015,


Carney, Caroline, et al. “Caroline Carney.” Magellan Health Insights, Magellan Health Insights, 11 Nov. 2017,


Garcia, Hector. “Hector Garcia.” Speaker | TED, Nov. 2016, Staff. “PTSD and Shell Shock.”, A&E Television Networks, 2017,


“History of PTSD.” PTSD Treatment Help, PTSD Treatment Help, 7 Feb. 2017,


Huerta, Carlos C. “Leaving the Battlefield: Soldier Shares Story of PTSD.”, 25 Apr. 2012,


Illing, Sean. “The Punisher Is the Best Pop Culture Depiction of PTSD in America.” Vox, Vox, 11 Dec. 2017,


Ugwu, Reggie. “Veterans Groups Push for Medical Marijuana to Treat PTSD.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Nov. 2017,


Unavailable. “Veterans Statistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide.” Veterans PTSD Statistics | Statistics: Depression, TBI and Suicide,


Unknown. “History of PTSD.” PTSD Treatment Help, 7 Feb. 2017,


Unknown. “Timeline.” History of PTSD, History of PTSD, 17 Dec. 2011,


“Marijuana: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).” Marijuana: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, 2 Apr. 2017,


Monet, Michelle. “Helpful Things To Say To Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder .”Medium, A Medium Corporation, 17 July 2017,


Various. “PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” History of PTSD in Veterans: Civil War to DSM-5 – PTSD: National Center for PTSD, 5 July 2007,


Various. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2018,


“We Train Soldiers for War. Let’s Train Them to Come Home, Too.” We Train Soldiers for War. Let’s Train Them to Come Home, Too, TED Talks , Nov. 2015,


Zwolinski, Richard. “Psych Central.” Psych Central,


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  1. April 28, 2018 by Sara.Hewitt

    This page is amazing! I especially appreciated your “History of PTSD” section, which I found very informative.

  2. April 30, 2018 by Surumya Bhargava

    This project is amazing. I must admit, for all the research I’ve done or studying for AP psych, I’ve never known about the history behind PTSD. Also, I like how you laid out the solution. Although it might be “tame,” the way you presented it really brings light to how effective it can be.

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