Casualties of the spirit: The development of military psychology and psychiatry in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, 1914–1945

2012 2012

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Abstract (summary)

Every country, especially one at war, is concerned with the mental strength of its military. During the First and Second World Wars, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States were first introduced to the problem of psychological casualties on a mass scale and their attempts to confront this problem have influenced the way war related trauma is understood and dealt with today. There are three major themes present in military trauma studies that were also present during World Wars I and II. There was the questioning of which diagnostic labels related to psychological and emotional distress could be applied to soldiers, the confrontation of issues related to masculinity and cultivating the soldierly ideal, and the attempt to discover ways to prevent war related trauma symptoms among soldiers. The first and second chapters explore the ways in which doctors in Britain and the United States struggled to develop a vocabulary to discuss the psychological changes in soldiers and how a term such as shell shock, which today is so easily associated with the First World War, was hotly contested by doctors on both sides of the Atlantic. The third chapter focuses on the development and demise of the Office of German Military Psychology during the Third Reich, the cultivation of Soldatentum, and the results of attempted psychologically engineer as a means to harden soldiers. The fourth chapter looks at the United States and the various measures military psychiatrists took to screen against war neuroses during World War II. The epilogue examines the treatment of PTSD in the US military today and how many of the assumptions regarding the treatment of war-related psychological trauma can be traced back to ideas developed and contested during the First and Second World Wars by a Trans-Atlantic medical community.

Indexing (details)

European history;
American history;
Mental health;
Science history
0335: European history
0337: American history
0347: Mental health
0585: Science history
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Health and environmental sciences; Europe; Germany; Great Britain; Military; Psychiatry; Psychology; United States
Casualties of the spirit: The development of military psychology and psychiatry in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, 1914–1945
Epting, Susan
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Childers, Thomas C.
Committee member
Breckman, Warren; Linker, Beth
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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