HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Invisible Scars: Mental Trauma and the Korean War

Article

This book explores the psychiatric care system in place for Commonwealth troops deployed during the Korean War (1950-1953) and how psychologically traumatised veterans were treated upon their return home.

Abstract

The Korean War (1950-53) was a ferocious and brutal conflict that produced over four million casualties in the span of three short years. Despite this, it remains relatively absent from most accounts of mental health and war trauma. 'Invisible Scars' provides the first extended exploration of Commonwealth Division psychiatry during the Korean War and examines the psychiatric-care systems in place for the thousands of soldiers who fought in that conflict. Fitzpatrick demonstrates that although Commonwealth forces were generally successful in returning psychologically traumatized servicemen to duty and fostering good morale, they failed to compensate or support in a meaningful way veterans returning to civilian life. Moreover, ignorance at home contributed to widespread misunderstanding of their condition, and veterans were often deprived of public space in which to grieve. This book offers an intimate look into the history of psychological trauma and assesses the impact of the Korean War on the development of military psychiatry. In addition, it engages with current disability, pensions, and compensation issues that remain hotly contested and reflects on the power of commemoration in the healing process. This book will be of interest to scholars of military and medical history as well as those interested in the human consequences of war.

Full Reference

Fitzpatrick, Meghan. Invisible Scars: Mental Trauma and the Korean War (Vancouver & Toronto: UBC Press and Canadian War Museum, 2017).