This thesis examines psychological war trauma nurses experienced during the First World War. Psychological war trauma, or shell shock, as it was commonly known during the war, has largely been identified as a male affliction. In this thesis, I demonstrate that women too, suffered trauma and we can better understand nurses' trauma by applying some of the same analytical techniques that scholars have previously used to examine male combatant trauma. Moreover, I analyze the ways in which contemporary actors, including medical professionals and the public, imagined female trauma, specifically the way nurses' psychological trauma could be understood and articulated. Additionally, I examine how those suffering from trauma or treating it sometimes confronted it and sometimes avoided it. Utilizing official British War Office documents, personal papers, medical journals, and newspapers, I have found that no matter the circumstances surrounding nurses' trauma, the language and diagnoses applied avoided language that minimized these women's characters or war service. These women's behaviors had to be framed in keeping with 'womanly' notions of sacrifice, selflessness, and duty to their country. With this thesis, I bring together the history of nursing and the history of psychological war trauma—making clear that nurses fit into the larger narrative of trauma.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Campana, Kayla, "Sacrificing Sisters: Nurses' Psychological Trauma from the First World War, 1914-1918" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 983.