WWI and America's First PTSD Research

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Faculty research uncovers work of PTSD pioneer

Video by Joe O'Neill 

America's first military psychiatrist, Thomas W. Salmon, was a pioneer in mental-health research during World War I, and Professor of English Wendy Moffat, biographer and social historian of the American and European modern era, has been exploring Salmon’s story. What she has found is that not only was Salmon a groundbreaker, but his work has had a lasting influence on public-health psychiatry and shines a light on what we now know as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

“He anticipates the social costs of the war on American society,” Moffat says, noting that Salmon thought “war neurosis” was, as he called it, "a perfectly legitimate way to respond to the terrible trauma of that kind of combat, which no American had ever seen.”

Listen to Moffat's Sept. 4 interview on WITF's "Smart Talk".

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Published July 25, 2014