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General History/Did butchers suffer from psychological problems?

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Question
Hello! I was thinking that the job of a butcher was one of the shittiest on the Planet. Executing people for years must have taken the toll on the butchers. So is it known if they had psychological problems? I could bet that they must have suffered from psychological problems.

Answer
Hi Mika,
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by butcher. Do you mean a person who kills animals for a living? You also make a reference to executing people. Either way, it's not really my area, but I've come across a few ideas on the subject.

A professional killer for hire (a hit man) once testified that "the first time you kill someone, it bothers you. The second time, not so much. After killing five times, you may as well do it for a living because it doesn't bother you any more." This person may not have been psychologically healthy to begin with, but I suspect there is something in what he said. As with everything else in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I have encountered descriptions of executioners, for instance hangmen. They tended to be drawn from the lower elements of society -- people who really needed the money. These men probably grew up in more violent circumstances than most people and were more used to violence. And yes, executioners applied for the job because they already had unhealthy attitudes about death and violence.

Prior to the 20th century, terms like 'psychological problems' or 'PTSD' just don't appear in the records, but if you were to look you could find symptoms being described. For instance, drug or alcohol abuse or other anti-social behavior. There are numerous accounts of old soldiers passing their days in drunkenness, hanging around the army bases because they could not re-assimilate back into civilian society after their military careers ended.

As far as killing animals for a living, that still goes on today, and I've never heard of a butcher having psychological problems. Most people would not want to kill an animal, even for food, but it's something a butcher must get used to.

I hope this helps,
C.M.

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C.M. Aaron

Expertise

My interests are pretty diverse: military history, technology, and social trends for most historical eras, general U.S. history, European history, especially Roman and early medieval history but also the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, European colonialism in Africa, a little bit of Asian history, especially as it relates to European and American imperialism. I'm also pretty good with presidential history.

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I've read hundreds of history books on various subjects. I've also been writing historical fiction for about twenty years. Story development drives my research. I am also a tour guide at a local museum.

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Bachelor's degree in history and geography.

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