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Shell-shocked Britain : the First World War's legacy for Britain's mental health

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We know that millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but what happened after they returned home? 

Suzie Grogan reveals the First World War's disturbing legacy for soldiers and their families. How did a nation of broken men, and 'spare' women cope? 

In 1922 the British Parliament published a report into the situation of thou We know that millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but what happened after they returned home? 

Suzie Grogan reveals the First World War's disturbing legacy for soldiers and their families. How did a nation of broken men, and 'spare' women cope? 

In 1922 the British Parliament published a report into the situation of thousands of 'service patients', or mentally ill ex-soldiers still in hospital. What happened to these men? Were they cured? What treatments were on offer? And what was the reception from their families and society? 

Drawing on a huge mass of original sources, Suzie Grogan answers all those questions, combining individual case studies with a narrative on wider events. Unpublished material from the archives shows the true extent of the trauma experienced by the survivors. This is a fresh perspective on the history of the post-war period, and the plight of a traumatised nation.


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We know that millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but what happened after they returned home? 

Suzie Grogan reveals the First World War's disturbing legacy for soldiers and their families. How did a nation of broken men, and 'spare' women cope? 

In 1922 the British Parliament published a report into the situation of thou We know that millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but what happened after they returned home? 

Suzie Grogan reveals the First World War's disturbing legacy for soldiers and their families. How did a nation of broken men, and 'spare' women cope? 

In 1922 the British Parliament published a report into the situation of thousands of 'service patients', or mentally ill ex-soldiers still in hospital. What happened to these men? Were they cured? What treatments were on offer? And what was the reception from their families and society? 

Drawing on a huge mass of original sources, Suzie Grogan answers all those questions, combining individual case studies with a narrative on wider events. Unpublished material from the archives shows the true extent of the trauma experienced by the survivors. This is a fresh perspective on the history of the post-war period, and the plight of a traumatised nation.

36 review for Shell-shocked Britain : the First World War's legacy for Britain's mental health

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lucienne Boyce

    Many of us are familiar with individual stories of the suffering of the men and women who were caught up in the First World War. Grogan’s book takes a wider perspective and examines the effect of the war on the community at large, looks at how its consequences are still with us today, and explores the ramifications for mental health provision beyond the war. The book is meticulously researched and at the same time very readable. By using her own family history as a starting point Grogan brings r Many of us are familiar with individual stories of the suffering of the men and women who were caught up in the First World War. Grogan’s book takes a wider perspective and examines the effect of the war on the community at large, looks at how its consequences are still with us today, and explores the ramifications for mental health provision beyond the war. The book is meticulously researched and at the same time very readable. By using her own family history as a starting point Grogan brings real passion and commitment to her subject. I particularly liked the numerous case studies included in the text. A book that brings fresh insight to our thinking about about war and its impact on mental health, and reminds us that the past is never as far away as we might like to think.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I reviewed this book in a blog post on my website: In February, I was delighted to welcome Suzie Grogan to my local Highgate Library for a talk on her latest book, Shell-Shocked Britain: The First World War’s Legacy for Britain’s Mental Health (Pen & Sword History, 2014). inspired by the impact on Grogan’s own family (by her shell-shocked great-uncle’s suicide and murder of an ex-girlfriend in nearby Hornsey in 1922), Shell-Shocked goes further than previous histories in examining the wider impa I reviewed this book in a blog post on my website: In February, I was delighted to welcome Suzie Grogan to my local Highgate Library for a talk on her latest book, Shell-Shocked Britain: The First World War’s Legacy for Britain’s Mental Health (Pen & Sword History, 2014). inspired by the impact on Grogan’s own family (by her shell-shocked great-uncle’s suicide and murder of an ex-girlfriend in nearby Hornsey in 1922), Shell-Shocked goes further than previous histories in examining the wider impact of war on the mental health of shell-shocked veterans, their extended family, the next generation, and society at large. This enables even those with an extensive knowledge of the Great War to look at wartime experiences (and consequent interwar reactions) in a new light. An experienced writer on mental health issues, Grogan explores the effect of what is now recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder. For decades this was evident only in symptoms such as anxiety or alcoholism. Therapy was minimal: the quiet easing of nightmares and twitches as portrayed in J. L. Carr‘s 1980 novella, A Month in the Country, remained far out of reach for most veterans. The book also touches on the mental health toll on civilians from new horrors, such as the Zeppelin air raids. The last chapter explores the legacy of shell-shock: This book has not set out to establish that war trauma has left an indelible legacy on all families, or on all aspects of modern society. It has sought to highlight, however, the stresses endured by our recent ancestors and to encourage us to examine how our views of their quiet acceptance, silence or reluctance to share may be misplaced.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela Buckley

    I have to admit to knowing very little about ‘shell shock’ before reading this powerful and deeply thought-provoking book. I had no idea of the extent to which the experiences of the battlefield in WW1 not only affected those directly involved, but their family, community and subsequent generations. Shell Shocked Britain has totally changed my perception. Suzie Grogan’s well-researched and beautifully written book is a compelling account of the impact of warfare on individuals and the wide-reachi I have to admit to knowing very little about ‘shell shock’ before reading this powerful and deeply thought-provoking book. I had no idea of the extent to which the experiences of the battlefield in WW1 not only affected those directly involved, but their family, community and subsequent generations. Shell Shocked Britain has totally changed my perception. Suzie Grogan’s well-researched and beautifully written book is a compelling account of the impact of warfare on individuals and the wide-reaching implications for society. She covers a wide range of topics, including sexual politics, spiritualism and mental health care, as well as other contemporary events, such as the devastating Spanish ‘flu. At the heart of the book lies the tragic story of her own great-uncle and the tragic outcome of his war experiences. The narrative retains a strong, authoritative and personal voice throughout. It is a comprehensive and moving exploration of the legacy of WW1. Shell Shocked Britain casts a new light on the events of a century ago, and at the same time is relevant for today. I would highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    wendy elizabeth jackson

    Superb book. An interesting and very emotive subject, well written and researched. Would recommend to anyone interested in PTSD, and it's wide reaching effects. Superb book. An interesting and very emotive subject, well written and researched. Would recommend to anyone interested in PTSD, and it's wide reaching effects.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Hambling

    A strong start and some very good material, but after the first few chapters the author trails off into matters (like the air raids) which are clearly of personal interest rather than being relevant to the actual issue of shell shock. There is certainly the basis here for something authoritative, and much of the groundwork has been laid, but it perhaps suffers too much from having a personal agenda and there is a lack of clinical and statistical information about shell shock, it's diagnosis and A strong start and some very good material, but after the first few chapters the author trails off into matters (like the air raids) which are clearly of personal interest rather than being relevant to the actual issue of shell shock. There is certainly the basis here for something authoritative, and much of the groundwork has been laid, but it perhaps suffers too much from having a personal agenda and there is a lack of clinical and statistical information about shell shock, it's diagnosis and treatment etc. That said, it's one of the better books on the topic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Interesting, thought provoking look at the causes, effects and treatments of shell shock both during and immediately after the Great War. Looks at the population as a whole, rather than focusing just on the men themselves, including that of repeated air attacks and the encroachment of modern warfare on the home front. Good use of personal testimonies, and I particularly liked the chapter 'Science, Shrinks, Trickcyclists and Nutpickers' that examines in-depth the differing approaches to treatment Interesting, thought provoking look at the causes, effects and treatments of shell shock both during and immediately after the Great War. Looks at the population as a whole, rather than focusing just on the men themselves, including that of repeated air attacks and the encroachment of modern warfare on the home front. Good use of personal testimonies, and I particularly liked the chapter 'Science, Shrinks, Trickcyclists and Nutpickers' that examines in-depth the differing approaches to treatment at different hospitals (which gave me solid factual background to Pat Barker's fictional and brilliant Regeneration).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    thought provoking analysis of the affect of ww1 on individuals and a nation

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mina

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aj

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  13. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Murphy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

  15. 4 out of 5

    GLC

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Andrew

  17. 4 out of 5

    Simon Drew

  18. 4 out of 5

    Veerleen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pen and Sword ebooks

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suzie Grogan

  22. 4 out of 5

    K S

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Smith

  24. 5 out of 5

    Del

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sapphire Ng

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Marshall

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Digweed

  31. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Koch

  32. 4 out of 5

    Tina

  33. 5 out of 5

    lostnerves

  34. 5 out of 5

    Holly Wil

  35. 4 out of 5

    Julie Bozza

  36. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Alice

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