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Traumatic Pasts
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  • Page extent: 336 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.66 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 616.89/009
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: RC552 .T7 T738 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Psychic trauma--History
    • Psychiatry--History--19th century
    • Psychiatry--History--20th century

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521583657 | ISBN-10: 0521583659)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$108.00 (C)

Trauma--the psychological consequences of wars, accidents and abuse--has become the subject of heated debate among doctors, psychologists, and lay critics (and activists) in recent years. The essays in this book trace the origins of these debates in medicine and culture in modern Europe and America. They cover medical and cultural aspects of experiences understood to be "traumatic" from rail and factory accidents in the later nineteenth century through the First World War and its aftermath.


Contributors; Preface; 1. Trauma, psychiatry, and history: a conceptual and historiographical introduction Paul Lerner and Mark S. Micale; Part I. Travel and Trauma in the Victorian Era: 2. The railway accident: trains, trauma, and technological crisis in nineteenth-century Britain Ralph Harrington; 3. Trains and trauma in the American gilded age Eric Caplan; Part II. Work, Accidents, and Trauma in the Early Welfare State: 4. Events, series, trauma: the probabilistic revolution of the mind in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Wolfgang Schäffner; 5. The German welfare state as a discourse of trauma Greg A. Eghigian; Part III. Theorizing Trauma: Psychiatry and Modernity at the Turn of the Century: 6. Jean-Martin Charcot and les névroses traumatiques: from medicine to culture in French trauma theory of the late nineteenth century Mark S. Micale; 7. From traumatic neurosis to male hysteria: the decline and fall of Hermann Oppenheim, 1889–1919 Paul Lerner; 8. The construction of female sexual trauma in turn-of-the-century American mental medicine Lisa Cardyn; Part IV. Shock, Trauma, and Psychiatry in the First World War: 9. 'Why are they not cured?' British shellshock treatment during the Great War Peter Leese; 10. Psychiatrists, soldiers, and officers in Italy during the Great War Bruna Bianchi; 11. A Battle of Nerves: hysteria and its treatments in France during World War I Marc Roudebush; 13. Invisible wounds: the American legion, shell-shocked veterans, and American society, 1919–1924 Caroline Cox; Index.


"Mark Micale and Paul Lerner have edited a very valuable collection of essays. The scholarship presented here successfully challenges the notion of a single, uniform, transhistorical and trans-cultural concept of psychological trauma, and repeatedly demonstrates the relevance of time, place and culture to our understanding of its manifestations. Familiar histories that conflate the discovery of the unconscious and of the significance of trauma with the advent of Freud and psychoanalysis are shown to be misleading and incomplete. And our current crop of psychosocial traumas is firmly placed in a larger historical frame." The Times Literary Supplement

"Mark Micale and Paul Lerner, both historians of psychiatry, have assembled a welcome collection of essays. They offer an antidote to our over-romantic and ahistorical view of what is the key period in the history of trauma--the birth of the modern--from the end of the 19th century to the aftermath of the Great War. . . . Each of the essays in this collection is a gem." British Medical Journal

"This powerful book offers the best in the historical scholarship about trauma. It is very thoroughly researched and the number of multilingual sources used for every essay demonstrates an admirable knowledge of literature in the field. Recommended for academic libraries, especially those with programs in psychology, health sciences and history." E-Stream

"It is by and large a good book that should be valued for bringing together much scholarship on its chosen subject." Canadian Literature

"With the publication of Traumatic Pasts, it can be unequivocally stated that the historical study of trauma has entered a state of maturity. The authors locate the origins of the modern concept of trauma in a variety of medical discourses between 1870 and 1930 dealing with railway accidents, industrial accidents, violence and abuse, social insurance, and modern warfare. All chapters are of a high caliber and advance recent scholarship in their respective areas. . . . The authors of Traumatic Pasts have demonstrated that it is not possible to gain an understanding of the complexities of the trauma concept when social, political, and historical factors are not taken into account. The detailed, well-researched, and exceedingly well-theorized essays add a tremendous amount of material to existing historical research as well as to current debates about the nature of trauma." History Workshop

"At last scholars interested in the subject of trauma have a collection of interdisciplinary essays representing both the most thorough research and the most incisive thinking in the field. This indispensable book will move the discussion of trauma beyond fashionable metaphor to historical documentation." Elaine Showalter, Princeton University

"Traumatic Pasts is a major leap in the study of trauma as a historical concept. Reaching from the train accidents of the 19th century through shell shock and World War I, this volume of new and fascinating essays provides the context for our modern understanding of trauma. Much has been written about trauma over the past decades as if it were a contemporary phenomenon without its own history. That history is now elegantly supplied by Mark Micale and Paul Lerner." Sander L. Gilman, The American Academy in Berlin

"At last a survey of the history of trauma which is genuinely international, and which gives peace-time experiences their due significance alongside the horrors of war. Traumatic Pasts does not merely deliver an abundance of exciting new research; it brings a much-needed balance to a hysterized subject." Roy Porter, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College

"In place of the mythic, familiar, and taken-for-granted, we find a book that is filled with provocative discoveries, and that will open the way for many of us to new perspectives." Allan Young, McGill University

"In line with the general orientation of this important volume, I think (it) will teach us a lot about the twentieth century and ourselves." Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences


Paul Lerner, Mark S. Micale, Ralph Harrington, Eric Caplan, Wolfgang Schäffner, Greg A. Eghigian, Lisa Cardyn, Peter Leese, Bruna Bianchi, Marc Roudebush, Caroline Cox

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