“Psychoanalytic sociology and the traumas of history: Alexander Mitscherlich between the disciplines,” by Matt ffytche. Abstract:
This article examines the way aspects of recent history were excluded in key studies emerging from psychoanalytic social psychology of the mid-20th century. It draws on work by Erikson, Marcuse and Fromm, but focuses in particular on Alexander Mitscherlich. Mitscherlich, a social psychologist associated with the later Frankfurt School, was also the most important psychoanalytic figure in postwar Germany. This makes his work significant for tracing ways in which historical experience of the war and Nazism was filtered out of psychosocial narratives in this period, in favour of more structural analyses of the dynamics of social authority. Mitscherlich’s 1967 work The Inability to Mourn, co-authored with Margarete Mitscherlich, is often cited as the point at which the ‘missing’ historical experience flooded back into psychoanalytic accounts of society. I argue that this landmark publication does not hail the shift towards the psychoanalysis of historical experience with which it is often associated. These more sociological writers of the mid-century were writing before the impact of several trends occurring in the 1980s–90s which decisively shifted psychoanalytic attention away from the investigation of social authority and towards a focus on historical trauma. Ultimately this is also a narrative about the transformations which occur when psychoanalysis moves across disciplines.
One hundred years ago World War One set the course for the twentieth century; for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again. In this worldwide series of events with the British Council, we look at the impact of the war from around the world.
The third debate of the series comes from The Imperial War Museum in London as we explore the psychology of war. What drove men to volunteer for the war? What drove them to the edge of sanity when they got there?
Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery is joined by a panel of experts and a live audience to explore the mental impact of fighting the war at home and abroad. World War One experts Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London) and Michael Roper (University of Essex) are joined by the celebrated cultural historian, Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London), who presents her specially commissioned essay, Shell Shock and the Shock of Shells.
You can listen to this episode here and explore other episodes in the series here. You can also enrol in the Open University’s accompanying free online course, “World War 1: Trauma and Memory,” here.
The talk is titled Toward a Global History of Trauma, by featured speaker Mark Micale out of the Dept of History, University of Illinois. Editor of the (2001) volume Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma in the Modern Age, 1870–1930, Micale will argue that trauma scholarship is largely derived from a small number of purely Euro-American catastrophic events which serve as historical and psychological paradigms, and scholars need now to look beyond the West toward a new, more genuinely global perspective on the history of trauma. He focuses in particular on new research being done about Asia.
Find out more about this session, as well as an archive of past sessions, here.
The wonderful blog Mind Hacks has just brought to our attention John Huston’s 1946 film, Let There Be Light. The third of three propaganda films Huston was commission to make for the United States Army, Let There Be Light features World War II era soldiers experiencing neuropsychiatric illness as the result of the trauma of war.
Initially banned by the US government, the film made its debut at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. Now the film – which showcases the experiences of these soldiers, their often harsh treatment at the hands of medical professionals, and the soldiers distaste for the military post-war – is available in full online, both on YouTube (above) and as a downloadable file on Internet Archive.
The first of a planned series of introduced screenings on the subject of military healthcare, organised with The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London. The first programme will explore the connections between film and healthcare during the First World War. Admission is free.
Professor Edgar Jones, Professor of the History of Medicine and Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London: ‘War Neuroses’, Arthur Hurst’s pioneering film about the treatment of shell shock in the First World War’
Professor Christine Hallett, Professor of Nursing History, The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester: ‘”Plucky Nurses”: First World War nurses and the containment of trauma’
Full details of the film viewing can be found here.