War Neuroses and “Miracle” Cures

Abstract

IN a London daily paper there appeared recently a dramatic account of a blind Italian soldier suddenly recovering his sight at the door of the church where his bride awaited him. It is not generally known that similar “miracles” occur in this country, and the present writer has been fortunate in witnessing them in considerable number. A brief account of these conditions where the disability is rapidly curable is not without interest, for the war has produced thousands of such cases, and it is a startling fact that many sufferers have been discharged from the Army as “permanently unfit” who might otherwise be doing useful work. To remedy this state of affairs several neurological hospitals have been established, where the study and treatment of war neuroses can be carried out. The recognition that certain disablements are partly or wholly functional is of the greatest importance, for what at first might appear a hopeless condition becomes one that is curable, or, at any rate, can be markedly alleviated. Much original work on this subject has been done by Babinski, in Paris, and by Lt.-Col. Hurst, at Seale Hayne Neurological Hospital, Newton Abbot. Some interesting statistics were recently completed at the latter institution. It was found that the average length of time during which one hundred soldiers had been completely incapacitated owing to disabled legs or arms was eleven months. The average length of time taken to cure ninety-six of these was fifty-four minutes. Of the remaining four, one took one month, two were cured in three weeks, while the fourth required four days before recovery was obtained. The rapidity of the cure was due to the fact that the disabilities were recognised as being not organic, but functional, in character before treatment was carried out.

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R., A. War Neuroses and “Miracle” Cures . Nature 102, 465–467 (1919). https://doi.org/10.1038/102465b0

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