Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Women and depression in interwar Britain : case notes, narratives and experiences
Author: Hwang, Hye Jean
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 7131
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This research is an attempt to reconstruct the lived experiences of female patients who were deemed to suffer from depression in interwar Britain and explore the ways in which these sufferers understood and attributed their mental illness. In order to achieve these goals, this research analyses women’s own narratives embedded in medical records, notably case notes of the Maudsley Hospital and Holloway Sanatorium, and applies new concepts of life cycle and life event. What female patients experienced in the course of their mental illness, including the types and details of depressive symptoms, were largely decided by their social class, age and gender. They usually related the onset of depression to what they underwent in their daily lives, contrary to professional attributions which stressed heredity as a decisive aetiological factor. The case histories demonstrate that the patients were familiar with medical knowledge, not necessarily the latest ideas though, and that the lay understanding of health and ill-health affected considerably their experiences of mental depression. Moreover, the medical records inform us about women’s life in general and women’s sexuality: living as a woman in the interwar years meant that one had to cope with more traditional and conventional conditions rather than modern ones. This research also improves our understanding of British psychiatry in interwar years, as well as the status of depression as a medical concept. Contrary to the general claim that the Great War was the starting point of modern psychiatry, interwar years should be interpreted as a period of transition, when the influence of the nineteenth-century medical tradition was still strong. The modernisation of depression, which was to be completed only after the Second World War, owed much to the Victorian psychiatry, although it was authorised as a formal diagnosis and defeated its powerful predecessor, melancholia, during the interwar period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; RC Internal medicine