Frederick Fleet


Arun Vajpey

Member
The only thing I could add is that I've read accounts from survivors that have said listening to the screams and cries of the 1500+ people in the water never went away. It stayed with them their whole lives.
Certainly. But that is a different kind of trauma and in a situation like with the Titanic, unlikely to lead to 'conventional' PTSD (if there is such a thing).

Also, one has to bear in mind that Fleet was rescued on Lifeboat #6, with QM Hichens in charge. If other survivor accounts are to be believed, he declined to go back anywhere near the sinking ship and by inference, might have been too far away to hear the screams and other sounds towards the end. But I'd like to be enlightened on this; did many survivors on board Lifeboat #6 report hearing them?
 
I believe PTSD exists. Like I said the problem is that it has been over applied to where it has diluted the meaning for the legitimate cases. As for boat #6 I would need to research the people who were on it as I don't know. The one story I have always remembered was the survivor who lived next to the baseball field (I think it was Thayer) that when he heard the crowd cheer it always brought him back to the night of Titanic.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Member
I believe PTSD exists. Like I said the problem is that it has been over applied to where it has diluted the meaning for the legitimate cases.
Absolutely right on both counts. The issue is that being a relatively new diagnosis (in Mental Health terms), the boundaries are a bit hazy at this stage and likely over-applied.

During my GP days, I worked with the Mental Health team often in cases suspected to have PTSD. In most cases, those involved experiences in the Gulf War, Afghanistan etc, especially the latter for Brits. Depression, even the occasional suicidal intent associated with things like bereavement, estrangement, financial setbacks etc were not considered as PTSD.

Based on that, IMO Frederick Fleet did not suffer from PTSD and his suicide 53 years after the disaster were almost certainly due to more personal issues - past and (then) present. He had quite a disturbed childhood and while details are limited, being an illegitimate son of an unwed mother who abandoned him and ran away to America with a boyfriend would have left a major scar. Added to that, being brought-up in different foster homes in those days would have resulted in its own baggage that he had to carry for the rest of his life. The scars would certainly would have been still relatively fresh when Fleet became a sailor. If anything, a completely different experience like the Titanic disaster in which he came through (from his own survival perspective) could have switched priorities and to some extent helped him to bury his own personal past. But the family difficulties in later life, death of his wife followed by eviction by his brother-in-law would have brought back long dormant personal memories and could easily have acted collectively as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
 
Absolutely right on both counts. The issue is that being a relatively new diagnosis (in Mental Health terms), the boundaries are a bit hazy at this stage and likely over-applied.

During my GP days, I worked with the Mental Health team often in cases suspected to have PTSD. In most cases, those involved experiences in the Gulf War, Afghanistan etc, especially the latter for Brits. Depression, even the occasional suicidal intent associated with things like bereavement, estrangement, financial setbacks etc were not considered as PTSD.

Based on that, IMO Frederick Fleet did not suffer from PTSD and his suicide 53 years after the disaster were almost certainly due to more personal issues - past and (then) present. He had quite a disturbed childhood and while details are limited, being an illegitimate son of an unwed mother who abandoned him and ran away to America with a boyfriend would have left a major scar. Added to that, being brought-up in different foster homes in those days would have resulted in its own baggage that he had to carry for the rest of his life. The scars would certainly would have been still relatively fresh when Fleet became a sailor. If anything, a completely different experience like the Titanic disaster in which he came through (from his own survival perspective) could have switched priorities and to some extent helped him to bury his own personal past. But the family difficulties in later life, death of his wife followed by eviction by his brother-in-law would have brought back long dormant personal memories and could easily have acted collectively as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Well you have experience in this so I will defer to your knowledge about the subject. Its interesting what you said about the Titanic disaster switching priorities. There are cases of something like that happening. I read once that after the attack on Pearl Harbor a lot of shrinks lost many clients because they realized their problems were pretty petty compared to the big picture and snapped out of whatever they were having trouble with. Either that or the war gave them a purpose. As for Fleet and Thayer the disaster didn't seem to hold them back from getting on with things for 30-40+ years.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
I read once that after the attack on Pearl Harbor a lot of shrinks lost many clients because they realized their problems were pretty petty compared to the big picture and snapped out of whatever they were having trouble with. Either that or the war gave them a purpose.
True. The uncomfortable truth is that something like war brings out the best in most people. And there is a Titanic related example, but as it may ruffle a few feathers I hasten to add that it is just my opinion. Period.

No matter how others feel, I will always believe that during the time he was a Second Officer on board the Titanic, Charles Lightoller was a very self-indulgent individual to whom looking after Number One was a top priority. When the Titanic struck the iceberg and started to sink, things happened too unexpectedly and too fast for someone like Lightoller to sit back and take stock of the situation, including his own position. Therefore, he did his duty as he saw it almost instinctively but I'll always believe that at the back of his mind during those 2 hours and 40 minutes, he expected to survive himself. I am not claiming that he had any specific plan in mind, but went along as events transpired and eventually got on board the overturned Collapsible B. In my book, during the Titanic disaster and its immediate aftermath Lightoller was neither the hero that some made him out to be nor a villain; he was just an ordinary man and showed it.

But Lightoller the commanding officer who was twice decorated for valour in the First World War and the old sailor who took his private yacht Sundowner to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation of the Second World War was a different person altogether. With those situations, he had time to sit back, take stock of the situation and his position and make decisions based on them. But he was not alone; thousands of other people of all ages and backgrounds reached above their ordinary selves to help out. Given the right sort of situation (which I hope does not arise), some of us in these forums may also surprise ourselves by rising to the occasion.

Well you have experience in this so I will defer to your knowledge about the subject.
To be honest, anyone's 'experience' in Mental Health issues is really more limited than is generally believed. Unlike physical health issues, we are still scratching the surface with regard to complexities of the human mind, both normal and what we believe could be abnormal. Most of the current treatment procedures for mental illnesses is aimed at symptom control so that the patient is able to lead a relatively 'normal' life; but that's really not what you or I might call a 'cure'. There is still a long way to go.

I come from a culture where only a generation ago anyone with any sort of mental disturbance, including things like post-natal depression, was labelled as "mad", resulting in extreme social stigma, not only for themselves but also their families.
 
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