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Patricia Casey: 'The mental cost of war laid bare at home and abroad'

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Taking sides: Many who fought in the War of Independence had fought alongside the British in World War I.

Taking sides: Many who fought in the War of Independence had fought alongside the British in World War I.

Taking sides: Many who fought in the War of Independence had fought alongside the British in World War I.

There is a tendency to idealise history, then to revise it when our knowledge or our perspectives change. Revisionism has been a feature of our dialogue about the role of Irish people in World War I and in subsequent offensives at home, including the War of Independence and the Civil War.

World War I concluded in November 11, 1918, with the signing of the armistice. For psychiatrists, like myself, the Great War has a special resonance. In an article in 'The Lancet' in 1915, Dr Charles Myers described soldiers who were involuntarily shivering, crying, fearful and had constant intrusions of memory as a result of what they experienced in the trenches and battlefields. He called it shell shock. This term is not used in psychiatry today, having been replaced by the more recent term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also first described following the war in Vietnam.


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