Should Pilots Taking Antidepressants Be Allowed To Fly?

jet-skyThe apparent mass murder-suicide of 150 people by a young and reportedly depressed commercial pilot crashing into the French Alps has raised several difficult questions. Since the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority of the US) and similar agencies abroad generally do not want their pilots to have any medical condition or take any medications, is the implementation of this medical standard realistic or even safe?



From Shell Shock of World War I to Battle Fatigue of World War II

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), the term we use today, has always been as much a politically driven diagnosis as a scientifically based condition. Originally known as shell shock in World War One, by the time of World War Two, psychological trauma from combat began to be called ‘battle fatigue.’ The notion then was that every warrior, even heroes, has his―rarely her in those days―breaking point after too many days of combat. The idea grew up among the psychiatrists at the time that rest would cure everybody. Although one in three casualties of World War Two was psychological, you rarely hear about that in the literature glorifying the Greatest Generation and its warriors. Psychiatrists and the military actually believed at that time that there were no long term cases after getting rest. Soldiers with battle fatigue went home, rested, and participated in the GI bill after the war and lived happily ever after. At least that is the story the U.S. Army would like us all to believe.

What is Shell Shock?

About a century ago, a young British psychologist and physician Charles Meyer―from the University of Cambridge―coined the term ‘shell shock’ for the traumatic reactions he observed at the beginning of World War One in France, and published this term for the first time in the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet. ‘Shell shock’ then appeared in the newspapers and its use spread like wildfire as it ignited the imagination of everybody. In fact, it was used so widely and for so many different things that the British infantry tried to ban it during the middle of the Great War to prevent legitimizing the condition and also to stop pensions being paid to soldiers with this disability.

Is the Warrior Who Gets Shell Shock or PTSD a Coward?

Shell Shock is my debut novel, part thriller and part historical fiction. This novel is about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), how it has been misunderstood throughout history, and how it impacts present day military servicemen and women. From the shell shock of World War One to the PTSD of our current troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, warriors have always experienced psychological reactions to combat.