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The War Inside
Psychoanalysis, Total War, and the Making of the Democratic Self in Postwar Britain


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Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare

  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107519237

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About the Authors
  • The War Inside is a groundbreaking history of the contribution of British psychoanalysis to the making of social democracy, childhood, and the family during World War II and the postwar reconstruction. Psychoanalysts informed understandings not only of individuals, but also of broader political questions. By asserting a link between a real 'war outside' and an emotional 'war inside', psychoanalysts contributed to an increased state responsibility for citizens' mental health. They made understanding children and the mother-child relationship key to the successful creation of a democratic citizenry. Using rich archival sources, the book revises the common view of psychoanalysis as an elite discipline by taking it out of the clinic and into the war nursery, the juvenile court, the state welfare committee, and the children's hospital. It traces the work of the second generation of psychoanalysts after Freud in response to total war and explores its broad postwar effects on British society.

    • Proposes a major reassessment of British psychoanalysis and its contribution to the understanding of democracy at a time between war and peace
    • Pioneering study of the second generation of psychoanalysts after Sigmund Freud that examines them as actors in political and social spheres
    • Reveals how psychoanalytic ideas about the 'war inside' helped shape post-war notions of mental health, welfare, and childhood and family life
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    • Shortlisted for the 2014 Gradiva Book Award, National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This scholarly and well-researched book is the first to investigate how psychoanalysis influenced social policies relating to children in mid-twentieth-century Britain and demonstrates the far-reaching role of psychoanalytic ideas within social policy. Michal Shapira has been particularly effective in demonstrating the way in which psychoanalytic experts, in dealing with the disruptions and mass separation of families in wartime, introduced psychoanalytic ideas to discussions of citizenship and democracy.' Michael Roper, University of Essex

    'A substantial and well-researched contribution to the history of British psychoanalysis; Michal Shapira's illuminating book, The War Inside, deserves a wide readership.' Daniel Pick, Birkbeck, University of London

    'Shapira does a superb job of narrating the shift in both clinical thinking and public attitudes effected by the suffering of the shell-shocked in the previous war, demonstrating how, by the 1940s, fear and anxiety were recognised as legitimate responses to war but ones that needed careful management by the state.' Helen McCarthy, Reviews in History (

    'Shapira's work is one that I am likely to go back to more often … Reading this work, one can see the profound ways in which psychoanalytic thinking informed the society in which we now live; and because there are so many wonderfully researched details in the book, it is one that I will keep on my shelf and can imagine dipping back into again and again.' Psychoanalysis and History

    'In this important and original contribution, Michal Shapira presents an interdisciplinary, social and cultural history that examines the impact of psychoanalysis on the self, child development, and the family in post World War II Britain. Drawing on published and archival materials as well as clinical case histories this book will interest a wide range of academics as well as clinicians and psychoanalysts.' Lewis Aron, Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107519237
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the war inside
    1. The psychological study of anxiety: from World War I to World War II
    2. Under fire: children and psychoanalysts in total war
    3. The Hitler inside: Klein and her patients
    4. Psychoanalysts on the radio in war and peace: from collective to domestic citizenship
    5. Psychoanalyzing crime: the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency (ISTD), 1931–45
    6. Towards the therapeutic state: the ISTD during the postwar years, c.1945–60
    7. Hospitalized children, separation anxiety, and motherly love: psychoanalysis in postwar Britain

  • Author

    Michal Shapira, Tel-Aviv University
    Michal Shapira is Assistant Professor of History and Gender Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her research deals with the domestic, sociocultural, crossnational and imperial legacies of World War II in Britain and beyond.


    • Shortlisted for the 2014 Gradiva Book Award, National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis
    • Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Prize

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