War Neuroses : Netley Hospital,1917.

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War Neuroses : Netley Hospital,1917. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


Shows the symptomatology of "shell-shock" in 18 British "other rankers" and its treatment by two leading R.A.M.C. neurologists in two British military hospitals towards the end of the First World War. Captions tell us the men's names, rank, medical condition, details of their symptoms and how long it took to complete the cure, which in one case was in two and a half hours. Clinical features shown include a variety of ataxic and "hysterical" gaits; hysterical paralyses, contractures and anaesthesias; facial ties and spasms; loss of knee and ankle-jerk reflexes; paraplegia; "war hyperthyrodism"; amnesia; word-blindness and word-deafness. Although there are no precise details of the kind of treatment given, apart from the description 'cured and re-educated' we do see a little physiotherapy and hypnotic suggestion in treatment, and of 'cured' men undertaking farm-work, drill and a mock battles entitled 'Re-enacting the Battle of Seale Hayne / Convalescent war neurosis patients'. 5 segments.


UK : Seale Hayne Military Hospital, 1918.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (27 min.) : silent, black and white



Copyright note

Previous copyright holder unknown.

Terms of use

Public Domain Mark

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Dr. (later Sir) Arthur Hurst, F.R.C.P., and Dr. J.L.M. Symns with the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Medical Research Committee and Netley (Hampshire) and Seale Hayne (Devon) Military Hospitals.


See article: 'The Rapid Cure of Hysterical Symptoms in Soldiers,' A.F. Hurst and J.L.M. Symons, in The Lancet, August 3, 1918, pp. 139 - 141.


Segment 1 The first patient seen is Pte. Meek, age 23. He has complete retrograde amnesia, hysterical paralysis, contractures, mutism and universal anaesthesia. There is a shot of him in a wheelchair with a nurse, and the intertitles explain that he is completely unaware of the efforts to overcome the rigidity of his ankles, and a man is seen trying to bend his feet. He had a sudden recovery of memory nine months later, with gradual recovery of body functions. Seven months after this we see him teaching basket-making, which was his peacetime job. Two and a half years after onset he makes a complete recovery, and there is a shot of him running up and down stairs waving his arms. The next patient is Pte. Preston, who has amnesia, word blindness and word deafness, except to the word 'bombs', and his response to this is shown. When a doctor says 'bombs', he dives under a bed. Pte Ross Smith is also seen, who has a facial spasm. The spasm ceases under hypnosis, but return on waking. He has a lateral tremor of the head, treatment being relaxation and passive movements. There is a shot of him lying in bed having his head moved around. Next seen is Pte. Read, who was buried by shell. He has a hysterical gait, swaying movement and nose-wiping tic. His symptoms persisted until admitted to Netley 5 months later, and there is a shot of him walking down the street. Two hours later, as a result of treatment, the tic has disappeared and he can now walk and run almost normally. A month later he is at work on Seal Hayne Farm. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:06:08:02 Length: 00:06:08:02
Segment 2 Pte. King and Pte. Sandall were both admitted from the same hospital in France. Sandall developed additional symptoms by imitation of King. Pte. King's hysterical gait and speech are shown, as well as them both talking together. After two hours of treatment, Pte. Sandall is shown being able to speak without moving his arms, and two months later he is at work on the farm. Pte. King was unable to work on the farm, so was made hospital librarian. There is a shot of him trying to use a garden fork. Time start: 00:06:08:02 Time end: 00:10:19:15 Length: 00:04:11:13
Segment 3 Cpl. Anderson is seen, who has a hysterical 'dancing' gait. There is a shot of him moving his legs, and another after re-education the same day, showing improvement. Pte. Pudmore had a hysterical 'shuffling' gait, following spinal concussion after burial. He had complete paraplegia for ten months after admission, improving after this time. Pte. Willis is seen, who had a hysterical 'pseudo-spastic' gait following spinal concussion after burial. He had complete paralysis for eighteen months on admission in August, 1917, and the film shows improvement by November. Pte. Williams had a hysterical 'slippery ice' gait, with organic basis, after spinal concussion from burial. He was admitted one month after onset, with complete paraplegia. The film shows improvement three months later. Pte. Ashley had a hysterical ataxic gait following appendicitis in the trenches, the film showing improvement. Sgt. Bissett had a hysterical gait following rheumatism and burial. He was admitted with a very slow shaky gait with some improvement a month later, needing two walking sticks. He is almost recovered a month after this, walking upright but slowly. Six weeks after this, Ptes. Pudmore, Willis, Williams, Ashley and Sgts. Peters and Bissett are cured or almost cured. They stand in a line and walk towards the camera one by one, showing their improved walks. Time start: 00:10:19:15 Time end: 00:15:40:06 Length: 00:05:20:20
Segment 4 Pte. Richards had a hysterical gait following shell-shock whilst suffering from trench fever. He was cured by persuasion and re-education on the day of admission. He is shown at 2pm before the treatment, walking slowly with two walking sticks, after half an hour of treatment, when he does not need the sticks, and an hour later, cured and with a normal walk. Pte. Bradshaw had complete hysterical monoplegia following salvarsan injection. He had been paraplegic for two months after burial. He was cured the day of his admission. He is shown before treatment and attempts to stand, walk and move his legs whilst lying down and he cannot get out of his chair without assistance. He is shown during treatment lying on a bed and moving his legs less shakily. He is cured after another 15 minutes' suggestion and re-education. An intertitle describes a patient's condition as 'hysterical pseudo-pseudohypertrophic muscular paralysis', and his walk is shown before treatment, after an hour of treatment, and a week later. Before treatment his legs are very rigid and he has great difficulty walking, lying down and standing up again. During treatment his movements are more natural, and after treatments he has a very normal walk and can lie down and get up again. An intertitle describes the next patient's condition as 'hysterical gait following sciatica', and the patient's rigid and jerky walk is shown before treatment, and then after an hour of treatment, he is shown running up and down steps and jumping over a gate. Time start: 00:15:40:06 Time end: 00:20:40:17 Length: 00:05:10:11
Segment 5 The next patient's condition is described as a hysterical gait following flesh wound of the thigh, and he is shown dragging one leg before his treatment, and then walking with no difficulty after treatment. The next patient has hysterical contracture of his hand, which has persisted for 35 months after a wound near the elbow. He has a clenched fist, leaving deep nail marks in his palm. He was cured after half an hour's treatment, and his hand is shown. The last patient is Pte. Eaglefield, who has war hyperthyroidism and hyperadrenalism. His eyes are very wide, showing typical facies and von Graefe's sign. Finally, occupational treatments for convalescing patients are shown. The soldiers parade and perform drills together, pick fruit and work on the farm. They also direct, film and act The Battle of Seale Hayne. Time start: 00:20:40:17 Time end: 00:26:48:08 Length: 00:05:57:20



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