Adrian Weale

Fighting Trauma

Aftershock: The Untold Story of Surviving Peace


Portobello Books 315pp £20 order from our bookshop

On 31 October 1914, a twenty-year-old British soldier was attempting to pick his way through a barbed-wire entanglement when he suddenly found himself in the impact area of a German artillery barrage. The shells exploded so close to him that his haversack was torn away from his body, but when the shelling had subsided and he stumbled into a nearby trench, his comrades were surprised to discover that his only apparent physical injury was a burn on his little finger. Not long after, they noticed that the young soldier was bathed in a cold sweat and was trembling. He soon began to cry out that he was going blind. Two of his comrades led him to a dressing station for treatment, where he was seen by Dr Charles Myers, a psychologist attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps. Myers attempted to treat the soldier with hypnosis but achieved little and, after two weeks, the young man was sent back to England to convalesce.

The significance of this incident was that Myers wrote it up as ‘case one’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • One woman 'travelled round the south of India with a retinue of 750 people, fourteen elephants, two racing camels f… ,
    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,