The Second World War

Numerous staff members from the Ontario Hospital, London enlisted to serve their country in the Second World War. Staff shortages were especially noticeable among nurses, causing the training program to be put temporarily on hold during the war.

Treatments in this war differed greatly from those of the First World War. Instead of the use of electricity, soldiers were treated with much more care and compassion. There was an emphasis placed on fully treating a patient, rather than simply making a soldier well enough to fight again. Soldiers could generally expect simple talk and drug therapies.

The terminology of war-related mental illness also changed. "Shell shock" was no longer the preferred term. Instead, soldiers suffered from combat or battle exhaustion. The simplest therapy was rest, sometimes combined with tranquillizers. Other treatments included the use of electroshock therapy, hypnosis, and narcotherapy. This last treatment option involved the use of Pentothal, a 'truth serum.' Under the influence of this drug, a soldier would recount their traumatic experience, but afterwards be unaware of their retelling. A psychiatrist would later work with the un-medicated individual, and guide their questions to bring about a more successful recovery.

While military psychiatry had improved dramatically between the two world wars, soldiers did not necessarily receive treatments in the Second World War. This meant that many veterans re-entered the civilian world without proper assistance. Presently, there is a much more concerted effort to ensure that soldiers receive the necessary assistance before their discharge into civilian society. Unfortunately there are still cases of misdiagnosis, as well as continuing controversy about the care veterans may or may not receive.