“This aerial photograph made on day five of the invasion shows the immense power needed to break the back of Japanese Resistance on Iwo Jima, on March 17, 1945. Just off the beach, landing craft await their chance at the unloading area while small boats from the transports ply back and forth bring assault troops and returning wounded for treatment. Further out, the transports themselves faintly along the horizon, the protective screen of destroyers, destroyer escorts and cruisers can be seen. On the island, Marine tanks can be spotted moving through the rough terrain toward the first airfield at left.”
Three and a half years after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Home Islands are subjected to naval bombardment
for the first time. Battleships USS Indiana, USS Massachusetts, and USS
South Dakota open fire on the Kaimishi Steelworks, July 1945.
“The USS Yorktown lists heavily to port after being struck by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes in the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. A destroyer stands by at right to assist as a salvage crew on the flight deck tries to right the stricken aircraft carrier.”
Do you think Vikings ever experienced things like PTSD? Or was battle so normalized that it wasn't traumatic for them?
PTSD certainly did happen in ancient times all over the world, even in battle cultures, but its prevalence among soldiers is a more recent phenomenon. In many ways we can thank World War I for this change, when war became about killing the enemy and not about defeating them.
Prior to this, battle and war were highly ritualized. People certainly died, but not on the mass scale that we see in modern times. We still have some remnants of these times in our cultural attitudes about war. The whole “honorable soldier” idea comes from this earlier period.
A good example of the ritualistic element I am talking about comes from a story in the Canterbury Tales. Two brothers are fighting over the attentions of a woman, and to settle the matter, a local lord tells them to each travel the world and return in one year with a hundred men for their army. They do so, but when it comes time to battle, the armies do not actually fight- only the brothers do so.
This story is exaggerated a little for literary effect, but the general idea behind it is well communicated. War is about settling a problem, not killing, and that is where the honor and glory of being a warrior comes from- you are standing for something.
So while I’m certain that some warriors in the Viking Age did experience PTSD (and survivors of raids most likely did for certain), it was not a constant or regular feature of battle, and this was not because killing was normalized. It was because war and battle looked very different then from how it looks today.
In the sagas there is a lot of killing, and there is this idea that the nordic people were blood thirsty slaughterers because of viking raids. Certain killings and raids did happen, but its important to remember that most people don’t have it in them to kill another human being. That’s a big part of why PTSD is so prevalent now, humans are not cut out to be slaughtering each other.