Dr Tracey Loughran
Frames of Mind: Shell-shock and British Medical Culture, 1860-1930.
Abstract: This book examines medical constructions of shell-shock in First World War Britain., placing war neurosis within the longer history of psychiatry and tracing the relation between crucial categories of diagnosis in pre-war and wartime medicine and psychiatry. It argues that shell-shock was not an agent of radical change within British psychological medicine, but was rather shaped by debates which pre-dated the war. Explorations of organic, psychological, and physiological approaches to the war neuroses, and the roles of class and gender in shaping diagnostic expectations, show that medical constructions of shell-shock displayed continuity with several tenets of pre-war psychological medicine. Most importantly, concepts of the war neuroses were formulated within an evolutionary framework of understanding. Consequently, medical debates on shell-shock sought to define and delimit the constituents of human identity, and should therefore be viewed within a longer series of debates dating back to the Darwinian revolution, and extending far beyond the medical sphere. Several aspects of these debates are explored, including the relations between animal and human behaviour, the balance of emotion and will in ideal conduct, the influence of heredity and environment in shaping action, and the interaction of individual and social psychologies. The book concludes that shell-shock exerted a powerful grip on the contemporary imagination because it confirmed the existence of the animal within and revealed the fragility of European ‘civilisation’. Theories of the war neuroses were a microcosm of debates on the nature of modernity, its nebulous effects on the individual, and its consequences for British society.
‘Shell-shock, Trauma and the First World War: the Making of a Diagnosis and its Histories’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 67:1 (January 2012).
‘Shell-shock and British Psychological Medicine’, Social History of Medicine 22:1 (April 2009).
‘Hysteria and Neurasthenia in Pre-war Medical Discourse and in Histories of Shell-shock’, History of Psychiatry 19:3 (March 2008).
‘Evolution, Regression, and Shell-shock: Emotion and Instinct in Theories of the War Neuroses, c.1914-1918’, Manchester Papers in Economic and Social History 58 (September 2007).
‘Review Essay: Fiona Reid, Broken Men: Shell Shock, Treatment and Recovery in Britain, 1914-1930’, c. 4,000 words. History Workshop Journal. (forthcoming).
Pat Barker, Regeneration, and Joanna Bourke, Dismembering the Male: Men’s Bodies, Britain, and the Great War. Joint review commissioned for the Novel Approaches: from Academic History to Historical Fiction virtual conference, Institute of Historical Research, November 2011:
Mark Harrison, The Medical War: British Military Medicine in the First World War, Social History of Medicine 24:3 (December 2011).
‘Masculinity, Shell Shock and Emotional Survival in the First World War’, Reviews in History (August 2010) [review essay, c. 10,000 words]: http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/944
Mathew Thomson, Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture, and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain, Reviews in History (September 2007).
Andrew Smith, Victorian Demons: Medicine, Masculinity and the Gothic at the Fin-de-siècle, Medical History 49:4 (October 2005).