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Modern NostalgiaSiegfried Sassoon, Trauma and the Second World War$
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Robert Hemmings

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633067

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633067.001.0001

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Rivers, Myers and the Culture of War Neuroses

Rivers, Myers and the Culture of War Neuroses

(p.28) 2 Rivers, Myers and the Culture of War Neuroses
Modern Nostalgia

Robert Hemmings

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter presents a historical outline of trauma as it was understood during the First World War, the interwar years, and the Second World War, and studies the cultural context of war neuroses in Britain, pinpointing their roots in nineteenth-century models of traumatic neuroses. It discusses the transformation of war neuroses into ‘shell shock’, a term that was coined by Charles Myers in 1915. Myers, along with W.H.R. Rivers, determined that ‘shell shock’ was due to psychological damage, and not physical damage. The chapter notes that the Freudian concept of repression is relevant to Rivers’ and Sassoon’s understanding of trauma. It also shows the link between Sassoon’s socially detached response and the wider social and cultural response to the renewal and threat of modern war.

Keywords:   trauma, war neuroses, traumatic neuroses, shell shock, Charles Myers, W.H.R. Rivers, psychological damage, repression

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