What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that develops following a traumatic event. It is characterized by psychiatric disorders that are long-lasting and result in moral suffering and physical complications that profoundly alter personal, social and professional life.
Between 2010 and 2019, 2,800 French military personnel suffering from psychological injuries have been recorded (i.e. 8% of the total number of French army personnel deployed on external grounds).
This figure is five times higher than the number of physically injured soldiers: over the same period, 589 soldiers were physically injured in overseas operations.
- A photographic investigation
Testifying to military personnel suffering from PTSD: a social issue that goes beyond the framework of the Army and concerns all psychologically injured people. Stories told in images by Jérémy Lempin.
- An essay
Telling the story of the psychic injury of combatants, from Antiquity to the present day: a reflection on our relationship to violence, on our vision of heroism through the centuries. An essay by Cyril Hoftein, journalist at Figaro Magazine.
- Approximately 900 cases of PTSD in France at present (assessment by the central director of the military health service).
- In 2012, the number of French military personnel who died by suicide was three times higher than those who died in combat.
- 25 years after the Vietnam War, in 1997, the U.S. Army counted 102,000 cases of veteran suicides, twice as many as its total combat casualties.
Since the end of the Second World War, the French have lived far from the battlefields. The brutal death of thousands of men and women, military or civilian, as our parents knew it, is experienced from a distance, through images seen on television, in the press, or on social networks, or through the issue of refugees. It is far from their daily lives. The war in Ukraine is a sad example…
The recent terrorist attacks of Charlie Hebdo or the Bataclan, those of September 11, have since revived the memory of what are its great human dramas. The doctors who intervened on the scene of these mass killings have spoken of war wounds when treating the victims. Today, we know the nature of the psychological wounds that often accompany those of the body and that need to be treated in the same way.
However, beyond our French and European borders, some men and women deployed on external operations (OPEX) have consciously chosen to confront war.
Since the beginning of the 1990s and the Gulf War, our country has been involved in conflicts that the Army describes as “high intensity”: Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Sahel for the most recent one, with the famous Barkhane operation (since 2013, 58 soldiers have lost their lives in the Sahel and Mali, the last one fell on January 22).
Within the CABAT (Army Casualty Assistance Cell), the follow-up of cohorts and more particularly of seriously wounded soldiers on long leave (casualty leave, long sick leave and long-term sick leave) shows a very strong increase in psychic injuries since September 2013. These injuries, which are mainly characterized by post-traumatic war syndromes, have their main origins in the external operations of the last 10 years.
Genesis of the project. Why? Who?
As a military reporter-photographer for ten years, from 2006 to 2016, Jérémy Lempin documented the most recent conflicts conducted by the French army. Deployed on multiple occasions in theaters of external operations (Mali, CAR, Niger, Chad), then a marine officer decorated for his bravery in fire during Operation Serval (he has received the Cross of Military Valor and the Military Medal), he lived like the soldiers, and was subjected to the same stress, the same fears.
Several of his brothers-in-arms died while they were together in operation. He was lucky enough to come back alive and psychologically stable despite the realities of war that every soldier has to face. Some of his comrades, wounded, were repatriated. Others came back “burned out from the inside”: no apparent physical after-effects but an invisible wound that gradually nibbles away at the mind, then the body.
After leaving the army, Jérémy Lempin became a freelance photojournalist and tracked down these soldiers who were victims of what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder.
For several years, he followed their path and collected their testimonies. By documenting their suffering and that of their loved ones, he wanted to pay homage to the combatants they remain and put a face on wounds that are too underestimated today.
Making the invisible visible is the essence of the photographic medium. With this documentary work, Jérémy Lempin puts the human being in all his fragility at the heart of his reflection.
In 2021, for his story on Doctor Peyo, this exceptional horse who detects and supports incurable patients in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Calais, he has won all the must have photo prizes in 2021, in this case the Picture Of the Year, World Press Photo, and Visa d’Or from the Perpignan photojournalism festival, which propels him among the best signatures of the profession.
A photographic documentary, by Jérémy Lempin
From these 4 years of photographic investigation, Jérémy Lempin has chosen to show only the most powerful images, those that best express the hell of a life entirely paralyzed by the consequences of this disease and which gradually gangrene the entire family sphere. The psychological war becomes a war waged against oneself and in the secrecy of the intimate sphere.
An essay, by Cyril Hofstein, journalist at the Figaro magazine
Is the story of the injury a mirror of our relationship to violence? Is the way we treat these PTSD patients symptomatic of a performance-based society that does not accept to face fragility?
This book also questions the relationship to violence and its evolution within our societies.
Cyril Hofstein: “The psychic wound is as old as war. This text will try to go back in time and to follow the traces of this evil which affects some combatants since the highest antiquity. From the suffering of Achilles after the death of Patroclus to the screams of Ulysses chained to the mast of his ship, through the massacres of St. Barthelemy, the shock of the battle of Eylau, the absolute horror of the First World War, the end of American innocence in Vietnam and the abandonment of conscripts after the Algerian war, up to the conflicts of the XXIst century where France has engaged its soldiers, the author will try to understand the nature of the look that the army and the civil society have on these men and women broken from within. Are they victims or heroes? Is their injury the expression of an inner fragility or simply of their most absolute humanity?”
6 witnesses / 6 individual stories / a single collective story
Aurélien: former dog handler in the 132nd Army Canine Infantry Regiment in Suippes, on long-term sick leave since a mission in the Central African Republic in 2015
Pierre: 80 years old, left in September 1960 for Algeria at the age of 19 with the 75th RIMA (marine infantry regiment)
Philippe: criminal identification technician in the gendarmerie, returned from a 6-month mission in Afghanistan in 2011 with PTSD
Benjamin: former soldier of the 1st RIMA (Angoulême marine infantry regiment), returned from Mali in 2013
Anne: widow of Jean-Louis, suffering from PTSD since 1994, detected in 2015, after having chained 18 external operations (Rwanda, ex-Yugoslavia, Afghanistan), i.e. a career of 25 years in the 3rd RIMA (infantry regiment Navy of Vannes)
Mélanie: nurse in the army health services suffering from PTSD since the suicide of one of her colleagues in France in 2016
“I have all my upper phalanges crushed, it’s from punching walls, posts, trees. I was externalizing my mental pain through the physical side, I had to hurt myself even more than what I was feeling inside; sometimes I would hit concrete or anything else five or six times in a row and now I have pits that have formed. Now, when I move my fingers, every joint is painful and reminds me of the pain I had during that time. I destroyed myself physically and psychologically, but I also almost destroyed my family. My pain was related to Africa. It was anger.”
Aurelien is a former dog handler with the 132nd Infantry Canine Regiment (132nd RIC), he has suffered from PTSD since a four-month mission in the Central African Republic in 2015.
“Everything that doesn’t come out during the day, it comes out at night.” […] “It was war every night, every night, it was war even with medication. They gave him medicine to sleep, but sleeping for him was hell.”
Anaïs, Aurélien’s wife.
“I smoke more and more. But that’s not all, I also drink alcohol, I take drugs… Despite all your willpower, you get into a spiral that allows you to forget and put things into perspective. Because, when you go to drink or get high, you will have less negative thoughts. So, yes, it pushes you in your tracks, you’re on edge.”
Benjamin is a former soldier of the 1st RIMa (Marine Infantry Regiment based in Angoulême) who returned from Mali in 2013, totally transformed by the violence of war and the horrors he saw there.
The book design
Size 22,5×31 cm
Photographs: 96 pages, printed in 4 colors + black (40 color photographs)
Testimonies: 32 pages (shorter booklets, size 10×31 cm on colored paper)
Essay: 24 pages, printed in 1 color
Printing and finishing: Printmodel® certified
FSC, PEFC standard papers
Hardback and cloth binding
All pages maintained by an elastic band around the back of the book
Jérémy Lempin imagined his project by giving it a particular form. Conceived as an artist book, it echoes the testimonies and images in a particular way. The choice of different papers, of shorter pages for the strongest sentences of the stories he collected, of a lighter binding, makes this book singular both in content and in form.
The artistic direction was entrusted to Agnès DAHAN. Trained at the École Supérieure des Arts appliqués Duperré and the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, she was the 2017 winner of the DA Club prize for the photographic book East/West by Harry Gruyaert. In 2018, the Nadar Prize was awarded to the book she produced with Clément Chéroux and Textuel publishing house entitled The Train, Robert F. Kennedy’s last journey. Among her latest works, Communes by Raymond Depardon exhibited at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and Une histoire mondiale des femmes photographes.
The iconographic choice has been entrusted to Alice SANTINELLI. After studying languages and institutions of the Middle East and Political Science in Venice and Bologna, Alice Santinelli trained in the challenges of archives in photo laboratories. Today she is an iconographer and consultant, and accompanies press photographers or visual artists on editorial or exhibition projects. She takes advantage of her other role as fundraiser to organize international residencies with “Reflexion Masterclass”. She is also a volunteer co-organizer of the Rencontres des Amis du Musée Albert Kahn and the ANI.
If the campaign is successful and the book can be produced, press relations for the book will be handled by the 2E BUREAU agency.
Thanks to you all, the complete budget may be financed!
If the project is financed, the edition of the book will be carried out by the publishing house Hemeria.
Launched in France on the occasion of Paris Photo 2018, Hemeria is a new ecosystem dedicated to photography: crowdfunding platform, publishing house, bookstore, art gallery and podcast, Hemeria accompanies all photographers wishing to publish their book while maintaining freedom of action and control total on the creative process. Hemeria is thus aimed at those who do not want to compromise on the quality of reproduction of their works, whether in a book or an art print, and want to achieve a same level of excellence.
This project is supported by TÉGO. The TÉGO Association aims to promote social protection adapted to the defense community, and by the CARAC Foundation.Since its creation in 2011, the Carac Foundation has aimed to bring combative mutuality and its values to life in contemporary society. Today, it is an essential patron of projects that contribute to the transmission of memory and solidarity with the combatants of yesterday and today.
The selection of exclusive images (20×30, 30×40 and special sizes) / Special prices
20×30 > images A, B and C (art prints signed) extracted from the book
30×40 > images D to J (art prints signed) extracted from other series
Special sizes > images K to N (art prints signed, numbered from 1/5 to 5/5, framed) extracted from his series “Tour de France 2022”
Aux armes et caetera – 20×30 cm – photo A
Aux armes et caetera – 20×30 cm – photo B
Aux armes et caetera – 20×30 cm – photo C
Shrimp fishermen – Photo D
Doctor Peyo and Mister Hassen – 30×40 – photo E
Femmes nomades Peul, République Centrafricaine – 30×40 – photo F
Parachutistes, Pegassus Bridge – 30×40 – photo G
Brebis laitières – 30×40 – photo H
Kepi du 2e régiment étranger de parachutistes – 30×40 – photo I
Ultras, Racing club de Lens – 30×40 – photo J
Photo K – DANSE SUR LA MONTAGNE
Tour de France 2022, jour 16, 17ème étape Saint-Gaudens-Peyragudes.
Photo L – FENETRE SUR COURSE
Tour de France 2022, jour 15, 16ème étapes Carcassonne – Foix.
Photo M – LE CHALET
Tour de France 2022, jour 6, 9ème étape Aigle-Chatel.
Photo N – SUR LE BORD DE LA ROUTE
Tour de France 2022, jour 4, 7ème étape Tomblaine-La super Planche des Belles Filles.
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