Follow by Email

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Julia Collins book - My Father's War

This 2002 book was the first one that really focused on the combat trauma the WWII generation suffered and what it did to a family. Collins' father had left Yale in 1943 to join the Marines and returned after the war "emotionally and invisibly scarred". He never lived up to his early promise. She notes that the young boy who went to war came back a "soul weary man". Like so many of the children of the WWII generation, the author's realization of the impact of the war on her dad and her family did not come until her adulthood. The full understanding didn't occur until after her dad's death. This is a great read for insight into post war family dynamics and the effect on the children of a traumatized vet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In The Shadow of the Greatest Generation

Tom Matthews' book , Our Fathers' War - In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation, outlines the difficult relationships between sons of combat vet fathers of World War II. He intertwines his story with that of 9 other sons who have the same strained, tense relationship with their fathers. I don't know if the WWII fathers were tougher on their sons than their daughters, but from the description in this book, it seems like they wanted their sons to keep the same tight control over their emotions that the fathers themselves had to exhibit to deal with the aftermath of combat. By the end of the book, Matthews comes to an understanding of his father's psychological scars as he states, "my bet would be that anyone who's seen real combat would have for the rest of his life something going on inside him. Some wound. Some secret".

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Civil War and PTSD

A 2006 study done by investigating Civil War records at the National Archives demonstrated that war trauma can be documented in this country back to the Civil War. It was called "irritable heart or soldier's heart" and was connected with a lifetime of higher rates of physical and mental disorders in those who had seen combat. The factors that had the most significance were the youth of the soldier, intensity of combat (represented by percentage of soldiers killed in a company) and finally, prisioner of war status. This study is especially important because researchers were able to analyze the soldier over his entire lifespan.