War neurosis and civilian mental health in Britain during the Second World War

Croft, Hazel (2016) War neurosis and civilian mental health in Britain during the Second World War. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the mental health of civilians through an exploration of medical discourse, government policy and psychiatric practice in Britain during the Second World War. The first section of the thesis analyses how the diagnosis of ‘war neurosis’ was constructed and theorised in psychiatric thought. It explores the relationship between psychiatric theories and the government’s health and pension policies, and argues that psychiatric understandings of what constituted ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ psychological responses to the war involved a political as well a medical judgement. These official discourses and policy helped to create and sustain the dominant narrative of the war as one that had created few psychological disorders among civilians. The second section of this study explores wartime mental health as it was practised in the political and social context of the war. It investigates psychiatric interventions at four sites of wartime practice: public mental hospitals, psychiatric outpatient clinics, ‘front-line’ areas hit by bombing-raids, and industrial factories. Its findings indicate that there was no agreement amongst medical practitioners about the extent and nature of civilian neurosis, and suggest that civilians’ psychological reactions to the war were far more diverse than has been portrayed in many histories of the home front. The thesis contends that the notion of a collective psychological response to the war masks the complexity of diagnostic debates and the multiplicity of emotions that were experienced during the war.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 27 May 2016 15:38
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/190

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