chapter  12
Shell shock, Gallipoli and the generation of silence
Pages 14

Silence is, among other things, a state in which no one says what everyone knows. My argument is that there has been a silence lasting a century surrounding the extent to which the soldiers of the Great War suffered psychological injury during the conflict. In part this silence arose out of the stigma then and still now attached to mental illness in general, and to mental illness among soldiers in particular. Another contributory factor to this silence was the relatively undeveloped diagnostic skills doctors and admin - istrators had available to them when confronted with a mixture of somatic and emotional disorders that many tended to treat as malingering. In addition there was a financial matter to deal with in the inclement weather of the interwar years. How could doctors be sure that the best use of state money was to give it not only to the physically disabled but to those who were still bearing the hidden wounds of a war which had ended long before? These are questions to which we have no clear response in our everyday dealings with mental illness; should we be surprised that the people in charge got it wrong in the years after the Great War?