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The seminar will consider the influential view that the First World War was a turning point for treatments of and attitudes towards mental illness in Britain. It also calls for broader reflection on the legacy of the war for attitudes towards the problem and management of human nature. Secondly, it turns our attention to the role of psychology in the Second World War, particularly its function in relation to thinking about the origins of the war, the management of morale, and the building of a better post-war society. To address ideas about the relationship between war, peace and human nature in this period, students will read and compare Wilfred Trotter’s Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1919) and Edward Glover’s War, Sadism and Pacifism (1945).


Barham, Peter, Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War (2004).

Brooke, Stephen, ‘Evan Durbin: Reassessing a Labour “Revisionist”’, Twentieth Century British History, 7 (1996).

Bourke, Joanna, ‘Psychology at War, 1914-1945’, in Bunn et al (eds.), Psychology in Britain.

Leese, Peter, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War (2002).

Lerner, J.C. and Newcombe, N., ‘Britain between the Wars: The Historical Context of Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment’, Psychiatry, 45 (1982), 1-12.

Leys, Ruth, Trauma: A Genealogy (2000).

Loughran, Tracey. 'Shell-Shock and Psychological Medicine in First World War Britain'. Social History of Medicine, 22:1 (2009), 79-95.

McLaine, Ian, Ministry of Morale: Home Front Morale and the Ministry of Information in World War II (1979).

Nuttall, Jeremy, ‘Psychological Socialist; Militant Moderate: Evan Durbin and the Politics of Synthesis’, Labour History Review, 68 (2003), 235-52.

Riley, Denise, War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother (1983).

Roper, Michael, ‘Between Manliness and Masculinity: The “War Generation” and the Psychology of Fear in Britain, 1914-1950’, Journal of British Studies, 44 (2005), 343-62. Roper, Michael. 'Re-remembering the soldier hero : the psychic and social construction of memory in personal narratives of the Great War'. History Workshop Journal, 50 (2000), 181-204.

Rose, Nikolas, Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (1989), pp. 15-42.

Shephard, Ben, A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists, 1914-1994 (2000).

Stone, Martin, ‘Shellshock and the Psychologists’, in W. Bynum, R. Porter & M. Shepherd (eds.), The Anatomy of Madness, Volume 2 (1985), pp. 242-71.

Sluga, Glenda, Nation, Psychology, and International Politics: 1870-1919.

Soffer, Reba, ‘The New Elitism: Social Psychology in Prewar England’, Journal of British Studies, 8 (1989), 111-40.

Stonebridge, Lindsey, ‘Anxiety at a Time of Crisis’, History Workshop Journal, 45 (1998), 171-98.

Thalassis, Nafsika. 'Soldiers in Psychiatric Therapy : The Case of Northfield Military Hospital 1942-1946'. Social History of Medicine, 20:2 (2007), 351-68.

Thomson, ‘Psychology and the Mid-Century Crisis’, Psychological Subjects, pp. 209-49.

Sources: Glover, Edward, War, Sadism and Pacifism (1945); Trotter, Wilfred, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1919).