General George S. Patton's P.T.S.D. Teaching Moment

On August 3, 1943, the issue of war-related post-traumatic stress disorder - although it was not yet stated - gained national attention after General George S. Patton slapped a soldier and called him a coward as he was hospitalized. was admitted in. Psychosis." Today, it is a recognized mental illness, but in 1943, public opinion on the disorder was decidedly divided.

Private Charles H. Kuhly

In August 1943, Private Charles H. Kuhl was in the military for eight months, during which time he was hospitalized three times for mental health issues. According to his medical chart, he was diagnosed with "exhaustion", a catch-all term for psychological distress, specifically what has been called "shell shock" since World War I and what is now post-traumatic. Recognized as a stress disorder. "Obviously, he can't take it up front. It is returned again and again," the note said.

The Slap Heard Round the World

While on a tour of the army, General Patton and several medical officers visited a hospital. Patton talked with the patients about his injuries and wished him a speedy recovery, but he was stunned by Private Kuhl, who lay on a stool instead of lying in bed like the others. When Patton asked about his injuries, Kuhl simply nodded, and when Patton pressed on, Kuhl admitted he was not injured, explaining, "I guess I can't take it. "

Patton was so furious at this reaction that he slapped Kuhl's face, grabbed him by the collar, and dragged him to the hospital door, scolded him and barked at the hospital staff, "Don't accept this son again. Of a bitch." When they got to the door, Patton kicked Kuhl from behind, sent him face down in the dirt and told him, "You're going back to the front. You hear me, shameless bastard?" Even after Private Kuhl was removed from the hospital, Patton was still ranting, about shell shock being a "Jew's invention" and making it clear that his military had mentally There was no place for the weak.

the Aftermath

General Patton's response to Private Kuhl is shocking today, but during World War II, many people agreed with him and thought he gave an appropriate answer. In Patton's day, "shell shock" patients were told to repress their feelings and shame as part of their treatment, which was thought to bring them back to their senses. The others became enraged and asked Patton to step down from command.

The military tried to suppress the incident, but when things leaked, General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered Patton to apologize. The two men shook hands, and Kuhl later called Patton a "great general" and told his family back home that it was "no big deal." After much discussion, it was decided that Eisenhower would not sack Patton, but the incident tarnished his reputation forever.

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