Some soldiers develop chronic psychological complications due to being too close to an explosion. They become somehow unstable, very irritable or confused. I mean being mentally ill because of being in the close proximity of the center of a blast (hand grenade, cannon, or similar explosion). There need not to be a physical trauma in this case. I've heard this called "shell shock".

I'm wondering what's the technical term for such a condition? Isn't there a politically correct term for that that is not a void abbreviation like PTSD?

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    Shell shock was a term coined to describe the reaction of some soldiers in World War I to the trauma of battle. It was a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic and being scared, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_shock – user66974 Jun 8 '16 at 20:29
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/a/181170/2434 – Daniel Beck Jun 9 '16 at 15:08

It's considered "ill-defined", but the term shell shock is often used for what you're describing. However, I would caution against using this in most situations.

Shell shock was a term used in the World War I era, but it was poorly understood at the time. In the World War II era, diagnoses of shell shock were replaced with diagnoses of combat stress reaction, which is often associated (but not the same as) PTSD. This quote from the Wikipedia page on CSR (linked above) emphasizes the difference:

Combat stress reaction is generally short-term and should not be confused with acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other long-term disorders attributable to combat stress, although any of these may commence as a combat stress reaction.

As to why I caution against using the term, it's not just that it's outdated and was vague at the time it was used - it's also considered somewhat offensive, from what I've heard, as it's disrespectful towards people actually suffering from CSR and PTSD. It is, however, still in our vernacular - a major security vulnerability was named after it in 2014, and when I was searching for the term on google, autocomplete recommended some game on Steam that I won't link because they don't deserve advertising. I also found an article about a politician being 'shellshocked' at public reaction to something he did.

I would strongly encourage you to check up on the Wikipedia pages for the terms (linked above) for further reading.

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    Why not add PTSD, including its meaning, to your answer? The OP is asking for a technical term. – Mari-Lou A Jun 8 '16 at 20:41
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    @Mari-LouA mainly because that was the first comment on the question, and the OP didn't like it. – childofsoong Jun 8 '16 at 21:52
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    The OP said: Not sure that's the correct term, IMO he's heard of "shell shock" but not the former. I don't know why s/he thinks PTSD is a void acronym/abbreviation. Oh well, too late now. Someone has suggested it. – Mari-Lou A Jun 8 '16 at 21:56
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    Shell Shock is a colloquial term but not an acceptable technical term. @Mari-LouA was correct that the technical term is PTSD. – Ukko Jun 9 '16 at 14:31
  • @Ukko well, according to wikipedia, they're closely related, but not identical. Basically, shell shock later started being diagnosed as 'combat stress reaction' (which is similar but not quite the same), which can be a precursor to PTSD. But, in light of all the attention this has received, I'm going to update my answer to cover most of that. – childofsoong Jun 9 '16 at 17:01

The modern name for the condition is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it can apply to civilians as well as soldiers.

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    I think PTSD might go on the broader side which includes more than just explosions. – SMS von der Tann Jun 9 '16 at 0:06
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    @SMSvonderTann True, PTSD is a generic term for that kind of disorder, whatever the cause. – Simon B Jun 9 '16 at 16:17

Combat stress reaction (CSR) is a term used within the military to describe acute behavioural disorganization seen by medical personnel as a direct result of the trauma of war.

Also known as "combat fatigue" or "battle neurosis", it has some overlap with the diagnosis of acute stress reaction used in civilian psychiatry. It is historically linked to shell shock and can sometimes precurse post-traumatic stress disorder.


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    PTSD would be a more appropriate suggestion because, as your link explains, CSR is acute and PTSD is chronic, and the request is for a term that refers to a chronic condition. – herisson Jun 8 '16 at 21:14

Although I am probably going to get a lot of flak for this answer, I believe this explanation fits the criteria of your question-specifically going to “complications due to being too close to an explosion”. This type of reaction is not restricted to soldiers on the battlefield. Please read through completely before rejecting it out-of-hand.

Concussion is also known as mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), mild head injury and minor head trauma. Concussion causes temporary loss of brain function leading to cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms, such as confusion, vomiting, headache, nausea, depression, disturbed sleep, moodiness, and amnesia.

Among the causes of concussion we find...

Explosions - concussions caused by explosions (bombs, grenades and mortar shells, for example) are common among veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In December 2015, the Department of Defense reported that there have been 339,462 medical diagnoses of concussion among members of the US armed forces from 2000-2015.

Repetitive blast exposure tied to brain changes in combat vets

Brain injury experts find that combat veterans exposed to repeated mild explosions show chronic changes in neuron activity in certain brain regions - and the more blasts they are exposed to, the more of the lasting changes they show.

Long-term after-effects of Grade 3 concussions may include irritability, apathy, sudden rages, depression, confusion, memory loss and (it is thought) Parkinsonian symptoms in some cases. This has been referred to PostConcussive Syndrome (PCS).

Not everyone who has been through an explosion develops PTSD; but for those who do, it is possible there is a physical reason for the disorder.


In addition to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), there are several related terms:

Complex Trauma or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

... a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts. Examples include severe child abuse, domestic abuse, or multiple military deployments into dangerous locales.

Chronic Trauma

Chronic trauma happens when an individual experiences multiple traumatic instances. This form of trauma can be a longstanding event such as reoccurring physical or sexual abuse, neglect or combat experience.

Or just trauma. You might also use traumatization, as in this book title:

The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization

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