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    Rethinking civilian neuroses in the Second World War

    Croft, Hazel (2016) Rethinking civilian neuroses in the Second World War. In: Leese, P. and Crouthamel, J. (eds.) Traumatic Memories of the Second World War and After. Springer, pp. 95-116. ISBN 9783319334691.

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    It might be assumed that 70 years after the end of the Second World War, the issue of wartime neurosis among civilians has been settled. The narrative of civilians’ psychological response to the war, set in place by Richard Titmuss’ Problems of Social Policy published in 1950, has rarely been challenged in the subsequent historiography and memorialization of the war. Titmuss set out the thesis that the war caused few psychiatric breakdowns, and, if anything, civilians were strengthened in their psychological resolve due to wartime camaraderie, full employment, active roles in civil defense and war work.1 Indeed, during the early years of the war, psychoanalyst Edward Glover bemoaned that psychiatric reports emphasized with “monotonous regularity” how the “incidence of ‘bomb neuroses’ was ‘astonishingly small’”.2 Glover, however, was skeptical as to the veracity of these reports, which he described as being “quite valueless” and subject to “gross error”.3 There was no assessment of the severity of the traumatic experience, no check on patients’ psychiatric history, no accurate account of the changes in the population, and “no uniformity of diagnostic approach.”4 Glover even suggested that a pre-war “mass neurosis myth”, whereby psychiatrists predicted millions of psychiatric casualties, had been transformed into an equally inaccurate “no neurosis” myth.5 “The official view developed,” he wrote, that “the problem of air-raid shock had solved itself.”


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 15:56
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:33


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