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Edited volumes serve an important purpose: when executed correctly, they help consolidate a body of scholarship, encourage dialogue between the volume’s contributors and set an agenda for future research. The historical study of trauma has been well-catered for in this respect by Traumatic Pasts, edited by Mark S.
This book traces trajectories of medical understanding of mind, brain and nerves from pre- to post-war Britain and analyses the impact of the First World War with its shell shock ‘epidemic’ on established medical ideas and practices.
Over 80,000 cases of shell-shock were officially recognised by British Army personnel during the First World War. The diagnosis remains a culturally and historically resonant symbol of the First World War in Britain. Its significance has been influenced by the famous post-war memoirs of ex-servicemen who recounted their personal experiences of shell-shock.
Alcohol policy never ceases to be controversial.
In 1919, Douglas C. McMurtrie, Director of the Red Cross Institute for Crippled and Disabled Men, remarked that, ‘beyond reaches of history, the disabled man has been a castaway of society’.
Sometime, around the middle of the 20th century, the British began to think differently about the well-being of children. Where anxieties had once dwelt on malnourished and disease-ridden bodies, they now shifted to contemplate the civilizational consequences of young disordered minds.
This review was written in early June, and coincided with the anniversary of D-Day. The annual commemoration of this event, accompanied this year by new television documentaries as well as the replaying of iconic films, is yet another reminder of the important place the Second World War still occupies in British culture as well as history.
I was 16 or 17 when I first read Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy, and 26 when I completed my PhD on shell shock in First World War Britain.
The First World War was a terrible experience that most soldiers were shocked by once they became active participants. How were soldiers’ able to cope with the grim realities of this war? How were they able to keep going in spite of losing close friends and comrades in one battle after another?
With a few exceptions, the history of shell shock in Britain has focused primarily on doctors’ and patients’ responses to mental trauma during wartime.(1) In particular, scholars of psychological trauma have investigated doctors’ dilemmas in diagnosing shell shock, wartime debates over restoring individual health versus military needs, and the ‘crisis of masculinity’ t