The Most Terrible Years: Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Thomas Salmon, and the Trauma of the Great War


ACLS Fellowship Program




“The Most Terrible Years” recounts the psychic cost of World War I through the experience of two prophetic but largely forgotten Americans, who came together through the shared trauma of their experience in France. Both were idealists and pioneers in their fields. Dr. Thomas Salmon (1876-1927) was the first psychiatrist in any American army. The second, the journalist Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant (1881-1965), was badly injured covering the Marne battles for the newly founded New Republic magazine. After the war, Sergeant became Salmon’s patient, editorial assistant, and (briefly) his lover. Both Salmon and Sergeant returned to an America oblivious to the lessons the war had exacted, but determined to help veterans suffering from what is now called PTSD.