Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(20,790 posts)
15. What an important story. Thank you for sharing it.
Sat Nov 11, 2023, 07:56 PM
Nov 2023

Every generation's experience of war and "war-sickness" is slightly different.

I use the term "war-sickness" advisedly - it has gone by so many aliases, and there are so many proximate contributing factors that change from generation to generation.

We tend to associate war-sickness with the development of ever more frightful weapons - artillery, ironclad ships, tanks, gas, submarines, etc. But if you look back to the writings of Homer and Shakespeare it is clear that even in the era of sword against sword, there were horrors in war that left long-term effects.

One aspect of war-sickness that I think has not been adequately researched is the contribution of the social and economic milieu to which war-sick individuals returned. Your observation about your great-uncle's sense of responsibility for his mother and siblings is a case in point. I don't think that was an uncommon artifact of its era.

People who come from families, neighborhoods, communities where there is a lot of structure around roles and expectations tend to make those roles and expectations part of their identity. And as the world has grown more complex and diverse, communities are increasingly influenced by other communities, family structures are changing, our understanding of roles and human development evolves. Fewer and fewer people experience a specific community or even the same family structure throughout their childhood and early maturity.

I imagine this is having an effect on the experience of war-sickness, but I'm sure it is very complex. Not something easily encapsulated in a few phrases. Nevertheless, it does not look as though we will be abandoning the stupidity of war any time soon. Perhaps we need to pay more attention to this aspect of it.


Latest Discussions»General Discussion»My Great Uncle was a WW1 ...»Reply #15