Tag Archives: Wellcome Collection

New APA Monitor: Charles S. Myers & Shell Shock

The June issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology is now online. The month’s Time Capsule section examines the work of British psychologist Charles S. Myers on shell shock during World War I. Historian of medicine and psychiatry Edgar Jones examines Myers efforts establish shell shock as a legitimate condition – and not mere malingering – and to treat those affected. As Jones described,

The first cases Myers described exhibited a range of perceptual abnormalities, such as loss of or impaired hearing, sight and sensation, along with other common physical symptoms, such as tremor, loss of balance, headache and fatigue. He concluded that these were psychological rather than physical casualties, and believed that the symptoms were overt manifestations of repressed trauma.

Along with William McDougall, another psychologist with a medical background, Myers argued that shell shock could be cured through cognitive and affective reintegration. The shell-shocked soldier, they thought, had attempted to manage a traumatic experience by repressing or splitting off any memory of a traumatic event. Symptoms, such as tremor or contracture, were the product of an unconscious process designed to maintain the dissociation. Myers and McDougall believed a patient could only be cured if his memory were revived and integrated within his consciousness, a process that might require a number of sessions.

The full article, Shell Shocked, can be read online here.

AHP readers may also be interested in a series of 5 films of World War I era soldiers suffering from shell shock posted online by the Wellcome Library (previously discussed on AHP here). The first of these is featured below.

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Exhibit: Brains: The Mind as Matter

As of this coming Thursday, March 29th, the Wellcome Collection in London is featuring a special exhibit on the brain. The exhibit, Brains: The Mind as Matter, runs until June 17th, 2012. As one of the many online components of this exhibit, the Wellcome Collection has put together a Tumblr site that explores “images of the brain in art, history and popular culture” and features many striking images of the brain, including the one above.

The full exhibit is described on the Wellcome Collection’s website as follows,

Our major new free exhibition seeks to explore what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.

Featuring over 150 artefacts including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos  and photography, ‘Brains’ follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire.

‘Brains’ asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind.

via the Society for the History of Psychology Facebook page.

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