Shell Shock From the Past

**Disclaimer: This post contains a spoiler from the show The Tudors.

Since we had the rest of this week off from classes, I spent time catching up on some Netflix. One of the shows I watched was The Tudors, a four-season series depicting the life and marriages of Henry VIII. In the eighth episode of the fourth season, “As It Should Be,” Henry’s army is invading the French town of Boulogne in a bid to eventually seize Paris. Part of the army puts explosives underneath the castle so it would collapse. When a group of men set the explosives to go off and try to run out of the underground cave, I saw a young man start to show the devastating symptoms of shell shock. As they run out, he witnesses his comrades, his friends die right in front of him. He manages to get out alive, but when another man asks him if anyone in the cave is still alive, he whispers “no” a couple of times, visibly shaken. Later on when the army leaves, he visits the grave of one of his friends that died, puts down a flower, and says “I’m sorry.”

Watching this shook me. I kept thinking about how we talked about in class that soldiers still experienced shell shock in past wars, but it wasn’t viewed as a psychological condition until the Great War. This man had to go through this horrific experience just for a power-hungry king who wanted to seize French territory just so he could rival the fame of his ancestor, Henry V. He was told he would fight for the honor and greatness of his country, and he comes home with the memories of horrible death, never to be the same again.

It goes to show that shell shock goes back a lot further than we might think.

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