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Mindbody blindness in 'Band of Brothers'

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Forest, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Jen and I have recently been watching Band of Brothers, an HBO miniseries that follows a company of 130 paratroopers ("Easy Company") as they fought in Europe during World War II. It follows them from their D-Day preparations to victory in Europe.

    Well, these were kids from all over the US, almost all of whom were in their late teens and early twenties. And almost none of whom had seen combat before parachuting behind enemy lines hours before the D-Day invasion.

    Hard to imagine what that must have been like for them.

    In another thread, we are discussing trauma based on a single event vs. trauma that accumulates over time. Their training had been severe and they were the cream of the crop, but this definitely has the makings of real trauma.

    So Jen and I weren't at all surprised to see a case of hysterical blindness, documented by historian Stephen Ambrose, in the book that inspired the miniseries:

    Winters went back to the battalion aid station. Ten of his men were there, receiving first aid. A doctor poked around Winters’s leg with a tweezers, pulled the bullet, cleaned out the wound , put some sulfa powder on it, and a bandage. [Winters is the officer who serves as the hero of the HBO miniseries]
    Winters circulated among the wounded. One of them was Pvt. Albert Blithe.
    “How’re you doing, Blithe? What’s the matter?”​
    “I can’t see, sir. I can’t see.”
    “Take it easy, relax. You’ve got a ticket out of here, we’ll get you out of here in a hurry. You’ll be going back to England. You’ll be O.K. Relax,” Winters said, and started to move on.
    Blithe began to get up. “Take it easy,” Winters told him. “Stay still.”
    “I can see, I can see, sir! I can see you!”
    Blithe got up and rejoined the company. “Never saw anything like it,” Winters said. “He was that scared he blacked out. Spooky. This kid just completely could not see, and all he needed was somebody to talk to him for a minute and calm him down.”

    Amazing stuff, eh?

    Wikipedia writes,

    As portrayed in Band of Brothers by Marc Warren, Blithe was struck with a temporary case of hysterical blindness following the fierce fight to capture Carentan. He recovered and was part of a patrol investigating a farmhouse a few days later, where he was shot by a sniper in his right shoulder. He would recover from the wound and receive a Purple Heart on June 25, 1944, his 21st birthday. Due to his wound, on 1 October 1944 he was sent home and never returned to the European Theater of Operations.​

    Later, he reenlisted at least twice more, eventually dying in 1967 from a perforated ulcer while serving in Korea. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetary with full military honors.

    It must have been a scary day, the day after D-Day, when he lost his sight.

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I didn't watch this miniseries but have it on DVD so I will watch it when I have time.
    I didn't serve in World War II but my brother and most of my uncles did. They survived
    but a cousin in the Navy died as a result of injuries from a shark in the Pacific Ocean.

    I can't imagine the stress the soldiers underwent on D-Day, One of my brother's high school buddies
    died in the Anzio invasion.

    Forest, are you going to put this thread in the Pop Culture sub forum?

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