The young men who flew and fought during the First World War had no idea what was awaiting them. The rise of science and nationalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came to a head in 1914. The "technology shock" that coalesced at the Western Front was not envisaged by any of the leadership. These men did the best they could and gave their full measure but it wasn't enough. Each suffered from their experiences, some better than others. Each knew it was a defining moment in their lives never to be repeated. And many felt that the dynamic context of aerial combat was something that, after the war, they still longed for, despite the attendant horrors.
The medical and psychiatric profession evolved symbiotically with the war. Like the patients they were charged with treating, doctors were unprepared for what awaited them. Doctors argued over best practice for treatment. Of course, the military wanted these men to return to duty as quickly as possible; with mounting casualties, each country needed every man. Aviation psychiatry arose as a new subset of the field, attempting to treat psychological symptoms previously unseen in combatants. The unique conditions of combat flying produced a whole new type of neurosis.
- Author: Mark C. Wilkins
- Page Count: 256