Shell-Shock: Investigating the medical response to psychological breakdown in the wake of the First World War
5 July 2017
A Cardiff historian has written a thought-provoking reassessment of medical responses to war-related psychological breakdown in the early twentieth century.
In Shell-Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain, Dr Tracey Loughran places shell-shock within the historical context of British psychological medicine to examine the intellectual resources doctors drew on as they struggled to make sense of nervous collapse.
In her first monograph, the Senior Lecturer in Medical History reveals how medical approaches to shell-shock were formulated within an evolutionary framework which viewed mental breakdown as regression to a level characteristic of earlier stages of individual or racial development, but also ultimately resulted in greater understanding and acceptance of psychoanalytic approaches to human mind and behaviour.
Through its demonstration of the crucial importance of concepts of mind-body relations, gender, willpower and instinct to the diagnosis of shell-shock, this book locates the disorder within a series of debates on human identity dating back to the Darwinian revolution and extending far beyond the medical sphere.
Shell-Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain is published by Cambridge University Press.