Shell Shock in New Zealand

An article in the just released February issue of Social History of Medicine may be of interest to some AHP readers. In “The Construction of Shell Shock in New Zealand, 1919–1939: A Reassessment” Gwen Parsons explores different accounts of shell shock provided by the army and the medical community during and immediately after World War One. Full article details follows below,

The Construction of Shell Shock in New Zealand, 1919–1939: A Reassessment,” by Gwen A. Parsons. The abstract reads,

This article explores the competing constructions of shell shock in New Zealand during and after the Great War. It begins by considering the army’s construction of shell shock as a discipline problem, before going on to consider the medical profession’s attempts to place it within a somatic and then psychogenic paradigm. While shell shock was initially viewed as a psychogenic condition in New Zealand, within a few years of the end of the war it had become increasingly subject to medical understandings of the psychiatric profession, who dominated the treatment of the mentally ill. It is the psychiatric understanding of shell shock which generally defined the treatment of shell shocked veterans within New Zealand after the war. In addition, this medical definition shaped but did not entirely define the government’s repatriation response to shell shocked soldiers. In a number of cases the government saw its responsibility to shell shocked soldiers as going beyond the limits of the psychiatric paradigm, and it responded positively to the veteran lobbying for extensions to the repatriation provisions for shell shocked soldiers. This article concludes by considering why the treatment of New Zealand’s shell shocked soldiers has generally been viewed so negatively within the national historiography.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.