• European history;
  • psychic trauma;
  • World War I;
  • World War II


The history of European psychotraumatology shows that opposing cultural, social, economic, and political forces have influenced scientific development. Inevitably, the theories of traumatic stress reflect the spirit of the age. Several of today's controversies were already evident during World War 1: the risk of reinforcing evacuation and compensation syndromes by legitimising diagnostic labels, increased somatization when the psychological nature of the trauma or symptom is not understood, and the deleterious effect of treating the individual removed from his primary group setting. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century the study of psychic trauma identified important intrapsychic phenomena, and, consequently, there was a neglect of the external stressor.