Neurasthenic pensioners in revolutionary Ireland
in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
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This chapter demonstrates that qualitative and quantitative evidence differentiating Ireland from UK must be contextualised within larger societal, economic and administrative frameworks. Rather than an Irish biological disposition to mental illness, it was the ongoing Anglo-Irish War, 1919–1921, which explains the high waiting list figures amongst neurasthenic pensioners in ‘South Ireland’. The guerrilla conflict caused much disruption in the rehabilitation of disabled Great War veterans. This chapter also comprehends the psychological impact this traumatising homecoming would have had on returning Great War veterans. The opportunity to work and provide for oneself was a fundamental component in the Ministry’s rehabilitation of disabled pensioners. Further discrimination attached itself to Irish men who had served in a British Army uniform, now viewed by many in increasingly nationalist areas of Ireland as an oppressive and occupying force. The lack of societal appreciation, training and treatment facilities increased the likelihood of unemployment amongst Irish Great War veterans which, in turn, intensified psychoneurotic symptoms and increased the likelihood of veterans turning to the Ministry for relief or applying to the department for medical treatment. The revolutionary period ensured that Ireland was the least suitable area in the United Kingdom for a mentally ill veteran to return to.

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