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The treatment of shell-shock: Cognitive therapy before its timet

  • Peter W. Howorth (a1)
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“I had a sister first, then a brother, then another brother – he was the one that was killed – and the next brother, who was also in the army, went out, and he got shell–shock. Of course, they didn't understand anything about it at all in those days. He was put on light duty at first, and for, I should think, two–and–a–half years, we had the most terrible life with him. I don't mean because he could help it – he couldn't help it at all – and no doctor seemed to be able to do anything with him at all.

About five times a day, he'd say he was going to commit suicide. We knew he wouldn't, but he'd got to be watched, all the time, and he would wake up in the night, screaming – and my mother would go and sit with him – saying ‘Oh, I can't go back to it’ … It was absolutely terrifying when he woke up, screaming and screaming and screaming.” (Liddle Collection, Leeds University Library, further details available from author upon request)

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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BARKER, P. (1991) Regneration. London: Viking.
JANOFF-BULMAN, R. & FRIEZE, I. H. (1983) A theoretical perspective for understanding reactions to victimisation. Journal of Social Issues, 39, 117.
JOHNSON, W. & ROWS, R. G. (1923) Neurasthenia and war neuroses. In History of the Great War Medical Services: Diseases of the War, vol. 2. London: HMSO.
LEED, E. (1979) No Man's Land. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MERSKEY, H. (1979) The Analysis of Hysteria. London: Gaskell.
OWEN, W. (1967) Collected Letters (eds OWEN, H. & BELL, J.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
RIVERS, W. H. R. (1917) Freud's psychology of the unconscious. Lancet i, 912914.
RIVERS, W. H. R. (1918a) An address on the repression of war experience. Lancet, i, 173177.
RIVERS, W. H. R. (1918b) War neurosis and military training. Mental Hygiene, 2, 513533.
SASSOON, S. (1983) The War Poems. London: Faber & Faber.
WAR OFFICE COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY INTO SHELL SHOCK (1922) Report of the Committee. London: HMSO.
Also archive material from the Liddle Collection of First World War material held at Leeds University and from the Public Record Office.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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The treatment of shell-shock: Cognitive therapy before its timet

  • Peter W. Howorth (a1)
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