Shell-Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain is a thought-provoking reassessment of medical responses to war-related psychological breakdown in the early twentieth century. Dr 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. She 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.
Tracey Loughran is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Cardiff University.
Introduction: shell-shock and medical culture in First World War Britain; 1. Frameworks of understanding: reconstructing the human from Darwin to the First World War; 2. Languages of diagnosis: hysteria, neurasthenia and changing pre-war psychological medicine; 3. Body and mind in shell-shock: war and change within psychological medicine; 4. Reading silences: gender and class in medical discourse on shell-shock; 5. Remaking men: will in medical approaches to shell-shock; 6. Animal bodies and minds: instinct and regression in shell-shock; Conclusion: shell-shock and post-war medical culture; Bibliography; Index.