A Weak Spot in the Personality? Conceptualising “War Neurosis” in British Medical Literature of the Second World War
Article first published online: 10 SEP 2012
© 2012 The Author. Australian Journal of Politics and History © 2012 School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Australian Journal of Politics & History
Special Issue: War and Peace, Barbarism and Civilization in Modern Europe and Its Empires
Volume 58, Issue 3, pages 408–420, September 2012
How to Cite
Roberts-Pedersen, E. (2012), A Weak Spot in the Personality? Conceptualising “War Neurosis” in British Medical Literature of the Second World War. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 58: 408–420. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01644.x
- Issue published online: 10 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 10 SEP 2012
Through an analysis of leading British medical journals during the Second World War, this article argues that psychiatric understandings of the “war neurosis” suffered by British servicemen during that conflict were predicated on a notion of the “neurotic serviceman” as an objective personality type predisposed to break down during the strain of wartime. By discounting the effects of traumatic war experiences in favour of an aetiology that located the genesis of psychiatric disorder within the inherently unstable individual, such an approach minimized the influence of the martial environment in favour of heredity and the events of early childhood as the ultimate arbiters of mental stability in service personnel.