In honor of Lane Library’s new exhibit on Stanford Medicine in WWI we feature a new e-book by Tracey Loughran. The 20th century saw the first instance of men serving in a combat zone for prolonged periods of time and the new psychological effects afflicted hundreds of thousands of survivors at a time when psychology and psychoanalysis had only just started out as new fields of study and therapy. Shell-shock, now called post-traumatic stress disorder, challenged the existing evolutionary understandings of the mind and human behavior.
Shell-Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain
In these decades [after WWWI], a distinctive set of concepts emerged within psychological medicine which, albeit in modified forms, continue to shape the way that most people in the western world explain their own behaviour to themselves and others today. This book assesses the role of the First World War as a catalyst for these changes in medical understandings of human mind and behaviour in Britain.
Loughran argues that the evolutionary and the psychoanalytic did not conflict, but the need for British doctors to make sense out of the new disorder led to the “melding” of these concepts, causing medical practice to look at the unconscious mind, instinct, the mind-body relationship and gender in forming a diagnosis.
Recommended for researchers in PTSD and for individuals interested in the history of the development of psychotherapy and medicine.