Treatment of saysquack battlefield nervous conditions
August 13th, 1917
A Somewhat Brief, Perfunctory, Foreshortened, and Cursory Overview of Battlefield Nervous Conditions of the Homo saysquackus americanae olympii (also known as “Saysquack” or “bigfoot”), Their Genesis, Prognosis, and Current Treatment Methodologies, Captain David Goodfellow, M.D., Journal of Mammalian Psychiatry, Vol. XI, issue 4, pg 654–798, Vauxhall University Institute of Zoological Research, Department of Saysquack Studies
The saysquack’s physical capabilities have been extensively studied both in the lab and in the field. His endurance, strength, and ability to endure tremendous insults to the body far exceeds that of human beings. Instances have been recorded of saysquacks receiving fire from Maxim guns at point-blank range, only to survive, heal from their wounds, and sally forth again. What has not received much attention is a methodical observation and analysis of the saysquack’s mental faculties, both his intelligence and the range and expression of his emotional conditions, both normal and abnormal. This study is confined only to observations of normal and abnormal saysquack behavior, and its implications for saysquack psychology. A disclaimer must here be inserted, that we are just beginning our studies of the science of saysquack psychology, and there are far more questions than answers.
Before attending to abnormalities, we must first attempt to understand normal saysquack behavior and thinking. It has been observed by Roosevelt, Browntrout and other researchers that the saysquack lives in social groups, uses a proto-language, creates and uses tools, and conducts rituals. Sharing observed in group feeding behaviors, social grooming, care of the elderly, and burial of the dead indicate altruism and the ability to apply abstract reasoning. These behaviors defy the oft made assumptions that the saysquack is a brute, incapable of understanding complex concepts. His ability to adapt to human cultural norms, assimilation into regimented military life, adept handling of tools and weapons provide further evidence of intelligence.
As the saysquack rarely speaks, it has been further assumed that he cannot reason. However, my post-mortem analysis of saysquack hard-pallet, larynx, and other vocal structures indicate differences from human anatomy that would render it difficult to impossible for saysquacks to produce the sounds required for human speech. However, their ability to learn and remember, and follow complex commands demonstrate that they are, in fact, capable of understanding speech, even if they cannot produce it.
At baseline, the saysquack wears no clothes, is not toilet-trained, and has outbursts of energy that quickly subside. These behaviors seem random and pointless, but in the context of their rainforest environment, their true meaning and purpose eludes our understanding, and should not be classified on the same scale as a low-grade idiot. In the presence of humans, the saysquack demonstrates behavioral inhibition, impulse control, and other pro-social behaviors. It is difficult to correlate their emotional experience with our own. When they smile or frown, it is often seen as a form of mimicry of the emotions of their human counterparts.
My battlefield experiences show, however that there are some indices by which we may infer the emotional life of the saysquack. At times they present as listless, with lowered head and slumped shoulders, whilst lingering over the death of a comrade. Whilst many officers have dismissed this as laziness or shirking duty, my observations indicate that this is how the saysquack demonstrates melancholy.
Joy and happiness as well as other affective displays have been observed; saysquacks have been seen leaping in the air performing summersaults, or touching heads with each other after a battlefield victory. Whilst often seen, these behaviors are seldom noted. Their much-heralded displays of rage, while far more rare — are legendary — even with the enemy. Here, they have been seen throwing carts or automobiles, scattering their feces, quacking loudly, and committing unspeakable acts of violence against humans. They have also been observed carrying their own or human comrades to safety at great risk to themselves, and even picking up and carrying wounded horses off the lines. If the saysquacks do not experience the same range of emotions that humans do, then theirs are equally complex.
Although the saysquacks are hardy creatures, not believed to feel pain in the same way human beings do, I have observed clear after-effects of trauma in the field. In one incident, a saysquack was pulled from a shell hole where the rest of his comrades had met a sudden, violent, and grotesque death. For days after the incident, he remained inert, refused food and drink, and did not respond to any attempts at communication or to external stimuli. Although he regained some function, weeks later he still experienced malaise, listlessness, refused orders, and met any attempt to send him back to the lines with enraged screeching. He was eventually shot for cowardice.
In another case, a saysquack climbed to the roof of an aid station and refused to come down. He made a repetitive humming sound, and tapped himself on his head with his paws until exhaustion forced him to quit his perch. The next day, he went up to the roof and did the same thing. Sympathetic comrades were able to talk him into coming down. On the third day, he went up again. This time, enraged officers threatened to shoot him if he did not come down. Although no one was aware until after the fact (or perhaps they would not have antagonized him to such a degree), the saysquack had stolen his commanding officer’s service revolver. He turned it on himself, and afterwards the matter was considered closed without further investigation.
These cases typify two new syndromes that I am calling “freeze-quack syndrome,” and “wall-climber’s disease.” Although officers often speculate that moral failings and a brutish nature account for the incidents, such unforgiving explanations cannot reconcile the acts of bravery often demonstrated by the victims of these syndromes before they are afflicted. In the first case, I have found that bed rest, hot soup, and a dark and quiet place to convalesce are essential to recovery. Given five days to three weeks, 75% of cases resolve on their own, but good care away from the front is essential. In the case of wall-climber’s disease, the psycho-motor agitation may be treated with morphine, which is, unfortunately, often in short supply. Many front-line physicians have reported to me that the use of mechanical restraints or other involuntary, physical interventions to gain compliance from the afflicted saysquack invariably meets with unsatisfactory results. In fact, the use of restraints exacerbates the symptoms, possibly beyond repair.
Of the two identified syndromes, sufferers of wall-climber’s disease generally have poorer outcomes. Their behavior is misunderstood, and often treated harshly as insubordination, leading to the catastrophic results noted earlier. Line officers must be educated that these saysquacks are suffering from the symptoms of illness, not moral failing. Whilst efficiency is the engine of the British armed forces, time is the only balm that will heal these mental ailments. I have seen no evidence that the process of recuperation can be hastened. Without proper, compassionate care saysquacks with battlefield nervous conditions will deteriorate further, and thus be of no service to the Empire.
In addition to compassionate care, removal as far as possible from the battlefield and its attendant stimuli is necessary for recovery. They must also be placed in company of their own kind, for the care a human can provide with even the best of intensions cannot replace the understanding and security a saysquack feels in the midst of its own tribe. In this sense, the psychological requirements of the saysquacks are similar to own human troops. Here, we may draw inspiration from the Quaker physicians of the 19th century, and their construction and administration of country asylums along the lines of the so-called “Moral Management” scheme. Their simple wisdom that good food, in quantity, regular routine, exercise, and socialization in a quiet, rural setting will provision broken minds and bodies with the raw materials needed to heal themselves, still applies today.
As yet, there exists no drug treatment regimen to reduce the psychological suffering of the saysquack, save morphine, given to quiet manic behavior, alleviate extreme anxiety, or induce sleep. I have reviewed the literature on other experimental methods such as hydrotherapy (subjecting saysquacks to temperature extremes), trepanning, and even the use of electric shocks. While these novel techniques have their share of enthusiastic adherents, their efficacy is inconsistent, and they usually do more harm than good — often resulting in death or serious injury of the test subjects. As such, the forcible use of electricity, exposure to radiation, repeated hot and cold baths, and drilling holes in the brain should not be considered best practices for the treatment of saysquack nervous conditions.
In mild cases of freeze-quack syndrome, proper recuperation can be expected to culminate in combat-readiness and a return to duty. I have yet to a see a “mild” case of wall-climber’s disease, however, and the care of this type of invalid should not be expected to result in fitness for frontline duty except in rare instances where the saysquack has a remarkably resilient constitution. At best, these invalids may hope to return to society — ours or theirs — with the reduced lifelong burden of care that expert medical attention can provide. In both cases, the nervous-condition afflicted saysquack should be invalided off the line as soon as symptoms appear. Tardy acknowledgement of these conditions will only render them that much more intractable, and place cure that much further out of reach.
I recommend that officers, casualty clearing station physicians and medics be appraised of the existence of these conditions, posthaste. Not only will this reduce tragic incidents of officers misreading a nervous condition for sloth or cowardice, it will increase overall unit cohesion, and boost morale. Furthermore, quick, compassionate care will help heal the psychologically crippled saysquack soldier. An investment in several asylums specially designed to house and care for ailing saysquacks, with trained volunteer staff will yield battle-ready soldiers at a time of dire necessity. Such places will take the broken saysquack and transform him from being a burden on the Empire to being fighting fit, whenever the possibility allows for it.
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