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Title: War neurosis and civilian mental health in Britain during the Second World War
Author: Croft, Hazel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 552X
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available