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Evening capital news. (Boise, Idaho) 1901-1927, May 07, 1916, Image 18

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056024/1916-05-07/ed-1/seq-18/

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Army Doctors Trying to Com
fort a Wounded Soldier Awakened
from Painful Dreams.
WO observations of great Interest
bave recently been made by medi
cal officers attending the wounded
In the European war.
One is that the wounded soldiers suffer
constantly from the most persistent and
frightful dreams recurring night after
night. The other is that music is very
efficacious in restoring the minds of sol
diers unbalanced by terrifying experi
ences, when all other remedies have failed.
Major Fred W. Mott, a British army
surgeon attached to the Fourth London
General War Hospital, has given a re
markably Interesting description of his
experiences with soldiers suffering from
disorders of the mind and nervous sys
A large proportion of patients of this
elass are troubled with agonizing dreams
which prove the most obstinate feature
of their condition for the doctorrs.
The poor fellows make the hospitals re
sound with their shrieks and yells as
they dream at night. Men who when
waking are idiotic, helpless and some
times even speechless become raving,
yelling demons again in their sleep. They
go through their fights again and suc
cumb once more to the horrors of the
last great catastrophe that deprived them
of their reason.
Music, it is interesting to know, has
been found the most effective agency in
restoring to sanity minds unbalanced by
shell-shock. It has had the effect of
bringing back memory, speech, hearing
and even sight. In these cases, where
various centres of the brain have been
disconnected and put out of gear by
shock without gross physical injury,
music has the power of linking them to
gether again. This action of music is
explained by Major Mott on psychological
grounds that appear very convincing.
Here is an interesting example of the
treatment in the case of a soldier who
was picked up insane from shell-shock:
Memory Brought
Back by a Bar of Music.
I "The patient's mind was a complete
blank, and this condition was reflected in
a dazed, mindless, mask-like expression.
He did not know the address of his home,
ind when shown a letter from his father
with the address on the top he did not
recognize it or his father's handwriting.
When shown a photograph of his home
with a group of his father, mother and
three brothers and himself in front of it,
he maintained the same wondering, dazed
expression and failed to recognize the
nature of the picture. His father had
heard from a comrade that he had been
buried by the explosion of a shell in the
trench; he had been unconscious for
some time and lost his speech.
"We heard from his father that he was
a good musician, and 1 said to him, '1 hear
you are a good musician,' and I asked him
if he could play the piano or sing; there
was the same wondering, bewildering look
and he muttered something which was to
the effect that he. could not sing or play.
Three days later 1 said. 'Come, you can
w histle "God Save the King." ' He took
no notice, hut upon pressing him he
looked up and a glint appeared in his
eyes, and he said. 'You start me.'
whistled the first bar, he took it up, and
whistled it admirably.
f "I then asked him to whistle 'Tip
perary,' but he could not do it till i
started him, and the same with several
other tunes, but once started be had no
difficulty, and I recognized from the ad
mirable intonation that he was, as his
father described him, an excellent musi
cian. I could not, however, that day get
him to start upon his own initiative any
one of the tunes he had whistled. The
next visit, three days later, I observed
that his expression had changed. He
smiled when I spoke to him. and I recog
nized clear evidence of a mind that had
partly found itself.
''He could now whistle any of the
tunes I had previously started him on by
himself when I called for the tune«. I
then said, 'Come along to the piano.'
He came, and I got him to sit down in
front of it. I said, 'Play.' He looked
at the instrument with a blank expres
sion, as it he had never seen such a
thing before, and I could not get him
even to put his fingers on the keys. I
hen took one of his hands, and, holding
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his "forefinger, I made him
play the melody of 'Tip
perary.' He looked at me,
and again I noticed a glint
in the eye and a chance of
his blank expression in
dicative of association and
recollective memories. He
put his other hand on the
keys and played a few
chords. 1 went away feel
ing confident that his musi
cal talent would reveal it
self. He played for half
an hour while 1 was In the
ward without a single dis
cord. Next time I came
he was able to play any
music set before him.
His associative memory
and recollection of music
was in advance of other
associative memories. Thus
eight months after he had
recovered his musical mem
ory he had very imper
fectly recovered his mem
ory of elementary facts re
garding his profession of a
land surveyor."
One patient suffered from
complete loss of memory.
He had been very fond of
music and playing and
singing popular songs, but
but when the music he had
played was shown to him
he could not recognize it.
When a song he had
known. "I Hear You Gall
ing Me." was played to
him on the piano only once
he recognized it and was
able to play it himself.
"Why should the mem
ory of music be more
readily revived in con
sciousnesg than other ex
periences?— for example,
those connected with the
professions of these two
young men before they en
tered the army?" asks
Major Mott. "I should ex
plain it by the fact that
there can be no doubt
that cognitions, whether
pleasurable or painful,
are more deeply graven
on mind and more firmly fixed in as
sociative memory when associated with
intense feeling. Music, of the arts,
appeals most to the emotions, and prob
ably this is the reason why countless
men and women, even the uneducated,
can recall the words of songs and hymns
when they hear the first bar of the musi
cal setting.
"Fixation and organization of repeated
experiences in the mind Is shown in
music, for a song that has been sung a
Major Mott, British Army Surgeon »
Explains How Music Is Used to
Cure the Agonies of Men Made
Deaf, Dumb, Blind and
Insane by Shell-Shock
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"The wounded soldiers, especially those who have been 'gassed,' make the hospitals resouna with their
shrieks and yells as they dream, disturbing the other patients and causing great distress to doctors
and -urses." From a war hospital scene by the celebrated Dutch artist, Louis Raemaekers.
Copyright. 191A by ths Star Company.
word or note for it to be continued to
the finish without any effort of con
sciousness, the last note or word uttered
serving as the appropriate stimulus of
the next; as by an instinct we have what
is termed a chain reflex."
Music restored the mind of a poor fel
,low who had received a bullet through
the head, causing total blindness. It had
passed through the left side of his brain.
At first he could only utter two sounds.
"Ah" and "Oot" The doctor began the
familiar chorus of "Tipperary" and tie
patient was able to sing it through. The
doctor oomments that the song had be
come organized in both halves of the
Then the doctor tried him with the
British soldier's familiar phrase, "Are
we down-hearted? No.
not repeat it. A month later the man's
mind was restored, chiefly owing to
Groat Britain Right« Reserve«.
But he could
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British Soldiers
Awakening at Dawn
After Sleeping on the
Bare Ground Near the
Firing Line, a Hard
Experience That They
Will Go Through
Many Times in Their
Dreams, If They Live.
Terrifying dreams have
the effect of making the
patients much worse and
it is important to combat
them. Often, in their
dreams, patients are heard
to cry out, and awakening
find themselves in a cold
sweat. Some officers have
been heard to give com
mands to their men and
urge them on to battle.
Now it does not necessari
ly follow that these men
who cry out or talk in
their sleep and who obvi
ously were dreaming can
recollect their dreams; in
fact, it is not a very un
common thing for them to
say they do not dream, al
though they say they have
awakened with a start and
found themselves In a cold
sweat. '
A functional case of
deaf-rautism, who would
narrate in writing his ter
rifying dreams, did not
cry out as some mutes do.
but systematically in his
sleep went through the
pantomime of bayoneting
the enemy, and even
would get out of bed and
look under, and of this
•performance he remem
bered nothing. He did not
act thus when hypnotized.
Under an anesthetic sol
diers sometimes may per
form the pantomime of
such habitual acta as rais
ing the gnn to the shoulder and pulling
the trigger.
I "An officer who had served tn South
Africa told me that he had had a dream
from which he awoke in a fright," say A
Major Mott. "He was in a mine pas
sage at the front when he met a leper,
who came towards him. Upon question
ing him and asking him if he could re
call some period of his life in which his
mind had been disturbed by a leper, he
remembered that he and his comrades
Wounded Soldiers Asleep, Show
ing a Typical Expression of the
Face Due to Terrifying Dreams.
became alarmed and protested against
a leper being allowed to remain in an ad
joining hangar. Evidently this had left a
deep impression graven on the mind, the
principal subject, the leper, was dissoci
ated from concomitant experiences in the
South African war, and became linked up
with a recent terrifying experience In
France of being in a mine passage, which
likely enough was also an experience in
whloh the emotion of fear occurred. Both
Incidents suffused with very strong feel
ing tone, In all probability were de'eply
graven on the mind and became firmly
fixed by subconscious associations."
A sergeant who had been a school
master was asked to write down his
dream. The first was as follows:
"I appeared to be resting on the road
side when a woman (unknown) called
me to see her husband's (a comrade)
body which was about to be buried. 1
went to a field in which was a pit, and
near the edge four or five dead bodies.
In a hand cart near by was a legless
body, the head of which was hidden from
sight by a slab of stone. (He had seen
a legless body which was covered with
a mackintosh sheet, which he removed.)
On moving the stone I found the body
alive, and the head spoke to me, implor
lng me to see that it was not buried.
Burial party arrived, and I was myself
about to be, buried with legless body
when I awoke."
Dreamed Peraistently
of Legless Bodies.
The second dream was as follows:
"After spending an evening with a
brother (dead eleven years ago) I was
making my way home when a violent
storm compelled me to take shelter in a
kind of culvert, which later turned Into
a quarry situated between two houses.
Men were doing blasting operations in
the quarry, and while watching them I
saw great upheavals of rock and eventu
ally the buildings all around collapsed
(explosion of a mine). Among the debris
were several mutilated bodies, the most
prominent of which was legless. I tried
to proceed to the body, but found that
i myself was pinned down by masonry
which had fallen on top of me. As I
struggled to get free the whole scene
tppeared to change to a huge fire, every
thing being enveloped in flames, and
through the flames I could still see the
legless body which now bore the head of
my wife, who was calling for me. I was
struggling to get free when my mother
seemed to be coming to my assistance,
and I awoke to find the nurses and or
derlies standing over me."
This patient had been shouting in his
sleep, beginning in a low voice and
gradually becoming louder until eventu
ally he was shrieking. The legless body
occurred in all his dreams; the sight of
this had evidently produced a profound
emotional shock.
"He had worried a great deal about
his wife, who was much younger (baa
himself," says Major Mott, "so that we
have this incongruous association of tbs
legless body and the head of his wife
calling him; finally, who more natural
than his mother to come to his help.
The emotional complex is not incongru
ous in this dream, for fear is linked up
with the tender emotion." 1
A young officer ot twenty dreamt for
months that the air wab filled with "fir
lng ara» surd Aags"
About one In twenty of those suffer
lng from shell shock were unable to
peak. MCny of these dumb men would
call out in their dreams expressions they
have used in trench warfare and battle.
One man recovered voluntary speech
after singing the old year out, eight*
months after receiving his injury.
An artilleryman, disabled by a shell
explosion at Ypres, constantly dreams of
shells bursting, and a fellow patient says
be has disturbed everybody's sleep by
his groans and moans, and wakes up at
the least noise. This man, unlike many
others, bas not lost speech or hearing,
but continually repeats words without

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