Knights and PTSD

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Knights and PTSD

Postby Motley » 07 Dec 2011 22:24

I just came across this.

http://sciencenordic.com/violent-knight ... tic-stress

It is interesting but I wonder at the point of the article it's self. It basically tells you nothing and seems more like an interesting research proposal. But what do I know.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby bigdummy » 08 Dec 2011 01:47

I've certainly seen evidence of it. The Swiss Mercenary / painter Urs Graf immediately comes to mind. I think that is part of what these drawings are about

Image

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and a lot of Bosch and so many other artists who may not have been knights but witnessed horrible things in their life (Bosch lived through a fire that destroyed 3000 homes in his youth)
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Ariella Elema » 08 Dec 2011 01:53

I'm sure PTSD existed in the Middle Ages, but it was only added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1980, so it would have been difficult for knights to fear something that hadn't really been defined yet.

I suspect that this article is a case of a journalist trying to make an academic's work sound a little more exciting and mangling some details in the process. Reading the article carefully, all the professor says is that Geoffroi de Charny displayed some characteristics which resemble the symptoms of PTSD. He prudently didn't go so far as to attempt a diagnosis on a man who has been dead for centuries.

The rest of the article doesn't strike me as newsworthy, but I've been reading a lot of stuff on this subject in recent years.

The other thing I think we have to remember is that when Heebøll-Holm says that knights had a different attitude towards violence than we do, by "we" he means first-world civilians with safe lifestyles similar to his own. I suspect that if we compared the attitudes of medieval knights to those of modern people for whom lethal force encounters are a real possibility, say SWAT team members, the differences would be less pronounced.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby bigdummy » 08 Dec 2011 03:46

Do you know of any interesting articles on the subject Ariella?

BD
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Gil-Galadh » 08 Dec 2011 08:12

Now that I think of it it seems to me that on one hand they should be very aware of PTSD, even if they do not call it by that name. However there would be at least several factors that reduce it. The first few that come to my mind are the role of the religion, the culture and society itself, and that during the middle ages(and up to very recently) death and shocking events would take place very often, so people would be kind of ready and trained. I would very much like to see the original publication.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Phil C » 08 Dec 2011 10:25

It must also be remembered that PTSD is an abnormal, protracted or heightened response to violent trauma, manifesting in such a way that the individual has diminished long term function (ie they still have the effects years after the initial event rather than the months that would be expected)and, as such, is a relatively uncommon thing even today. Basically everybody that sees horrific things in their life will have a way of processing that experience but a few individuals will get "stuck" in that process to the detriment of themselves and others around them.

I am sure that medieval fighting men, as all professionally violent men do/did whether now or then, had coping strategies through socially acceptable means (alcohol, banditry and tournaments spring to mind)that allowed them to manage their experiences, as pointed out, but likely a few of them got "stuck" in the same way.

My first thought is that it could account for the tradition of those from the knightly class heading off to become hermits when it all became a bit too much for them to manage in society, and yet others wouldn't be diagnosed as they could always wander off to yet another war where such behaviour would be acceptable, and, indeed, expected and encouraged.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby bigdummy » 08 Dec 2011 17:51

Quite a few former soldiers ended up becomming monks or priests, look at for example, Ignatious Loyola or Francis of Assisi.

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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby bigdummy » 08 Dec 2011 18:02

Another character I was thinking of, was Giles De Rais. Hero of the 100 years war, friend of Joan of Arc, one of the most highly regarded men in France, and he (allegedly) ends up killing, raping and eating hundreds of little boys. Supposedly according to his own testimony, one day he was reading Seutonious, and he decided to see if he could become Tiberius.

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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Lyceum » 08 Dec 2011 21:29

bigdummy wrote:Quite a few former soldiers ended up becomming monks or priests, look at for example, Ignatious Loyola or Francis of Assisi.

BD


See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asoka
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Ariella Elema » 09 Dec 2011 00:59

bigdummy wrote:Do you know of any interesting articles on the subject Ariella?

BD


I once took an entire course on medieval violence in which we were given a bibliography of a dozen articles each week and told to read five of them. :D

Richard Kaeuper covers a lot of the same territory as the article above in his book Chivalry and Violence. There's also a new textbook for courses on medieval violence by Warren C. Brown, titled Violence in Medieval Europe.

The material about French letters of pardon may be based on the research of Claude Gauvard, published in the book De grace especial.
Last edited by Ariella Elema on 09 Dec 2011 22:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby bigdummy » 09 Dec 2011 16:06

Lyceum wrote:
bigdummy wrote:Quite a few former soldiers ended up becomming monks or priests, look at for example, Ignatious Loyola or Francis of Assisi.

BD


See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asoka



Yeah quite a remarkable character Asoka, like St. Francis combined with Alexander the Great...

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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Thearos » 09 Dec 2011 20:30

Ariella Elema wrote:
bigdummy wrote:Do you know of any interesting articles on the subject Ariella?

BD


I once took an entire course on medieval violence in which we were given a bibliography of a dozen articles each week and told to read five of them. :D

Richard Kaeuper covers a lot of the same territory as the article above in his book Chivalry and Violence. There's also a new textbook for courses on medieval violence by Warren C. Brown, titled Violence in Medieval Europe.

The material about French letters of pardon may be based on the research of Claude Gauvard, published in the book [urlhttp://books.google.ca/books?id=UAUbxvXGpqUC&lpg=PP1&dq=%22claude%20gauvard%22&pg=PR9#v=onepage&q=%22claude%20gauvard%22&f=false]De grace especial[/url].


Do you still have this somewhere ? Would you be allowed to / willing to post it ?
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Ariella Elema » 09 Dec 2011 23:37

Do you still have this somewhere ? Would you be allowed to / willing to post it ?


The bibliographies? I have them somewhere, but I took the class some years ago and I know they've been updated since then. The course was MST 3205H: Violence in Medieval Society, at the University of Toronto, taught by Mark Meyerson. I really don't know how Dr. Meyerson would feel about me posting his old bibliographies, but you could try contacting him and asking for the updated versions.

In the meantime, I found an online copy of the opening chapter of Brown's book on medieval violence.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby janner » 09 Dec 2011 23:55

The media report simplifies the research to the extent that it appears like it shoe-horns modern military psychology into an entirely different cultural setting, which would be bad science.

I think we need to see the actual article...
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby swordflasher » 13 Dec 2011 20:47

Motley wrote:I just came across this.

http://sciencenordic.com/violent-knight ... tic-stress

It is interesting but I wonder at the point of the article it's self. It basically tells you nothing and seems more like an interesting research proposal. But what do I know.


The article seeks to put right the popular but misguided concept that knights were psychopaths - but who believes that?

That people from any time and culture sometimes get traumatised from witnessing or being victim to violence - well of course.

I think the point of the article is to make copy, paid by the word.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby Gil-Galadh » 14 Dec 2011 17:31

swordflasher wrote:The article seeks to put right the popular but misguided concept that knights were psychopaths - but who believes that?

Many people, especially the "Hurr-durr, they were such savages back then, never bathing and stuff" crowd.
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Re: Knights and PTSD

Postby swordflasher » 14 Dec 2011 21:54

You could be right, Victor.

The article also implies PTSD is specifically something aggressors suffer from, while It is more usually associated with people who were powerless over witnessing or experiencing trauma themselves.

Note however this book on perpetration-induced traumatic stress
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QbsY ... ss&f=false
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