Paula Hellal and Marjorie Lorch

This chapter shows how the Victorian era can be credited with ushering in reforms in childhood developmental disorders, including but not limited to problems with language acquisition. These early steps in recognising age as a factor of clinical importance were responsible, in large part, for eventual legislation in Great Britain, Europe and the United States that provided equitable treatment of children and adults alike. The authors explore Victorian attitudes to childhood disability by focusing on how physicians attempted to describe and explain these newly identified developmental disorders of language. Focusing primarily on childhood aphasia, they highlight the haphazard ways in which the medical profession made breakthroughs to give greater understanding of the condition. This required abandonment of early ideas, which had often been without empirical foundation, in order to embrace fresh perspectives and understanding, notably about the long-held and dubious linkage made between deafness and ‘dumbness’.

in Disability and the Victorians
Michael Robinson

This chapter demonstrates Irishmen fighting in the same uniform as their British comrades also experienced similar psychoneurotic afflictions. However, it was how such instances amongst Irish troops were perceived which was unique. This chapter establishes that the British military establishment believed the Irish Tommy was especially susceptible to war neuroses. This discernment was a continuation of long-held anti-Irish perceptions amongst Britons that the Irish were immature, emotionally volatile and susceptible to mental illness. This assessment had helped to legitimise British imperialism in Ireland. Simultaneous to the continuation of such anti-Irish prejudices, however, this chapter also offers a considerate analysis of the Ministry of Pensions’ early rehabilitative attempts in Britain and Ireland between 1914 and 1921. Exclusive in-patient and out-patient treatment was provided in Ministry hospitals throughout the United Kingdom. This infrastructure was far more progressive and innovative than has been previously assumed. Infrastructure in ‘South Ireland’, however, was fatally compromised. The region experienced far higher waiting lists for neurasthenic pensioners awaiting in-patient and out-patient treatment in the United Kingdom. Ministry of Pensions officials in London attributed these inflated figures to the supposition that the Irish were predisposed to mental illness.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
Abstract only
Michael Robinson

This introduction outlines the development of shell-shock as a diagnosis and establishes its position in the historiography of the First World War. It demonstrates that no study has addressed the experience of Irish men who suffered from psychoneurotic ailments as a result of war service. The introduction explains the reluctance of previous works to engage with Ireland by highlighting a perceived dearth in archival materials and the distinguishing features of the political and socio-economic circumstances in Ireland. It delineates the reasons for the methodological choices made in writing the book and explains its chapter structure. The book aims to widen the traditional interpretation of shell-shock by challenging the assumption that the experiences of mentally ill veterans in Ireland are unquantifiable and untraceable. The unique socio-political and economic circumstances in Ireland ensures the Irish experience of post-war mental illness and disability does not reflect previous British-centric works. The post-war care and rehabilitation of mentally disabled British Army veterans in inter-war Ireland were heavily influenced by bio-psycho, socio-economic, cultural and political concerns. This thesis will become evident in the book’s five ensuing chapters.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
Michael Robinson

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.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
Michael Robinson

Chapter 3 examines the subsequent experience of the mentally ill Great War veteran in the newly established Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Regardless of the diplomatic change in Anglo-Irish relations, this chapter demonstrates that 1922 should be seen as a crucial fracture in any analysis of shell-shock. The year witnessed the publication of the War Office Report into Shell-Shock. Emphasising longstanding theories of predisposition and hereditary degeneration in the causation of shell-shock, the report helped to shut down the shell-shock debate. In the aftermath of this account, little research and few publications were directed to war-induced neuroses or the plight of the mentally ill veteran in the UK. This pessimism coincided with the infamous ‘Geddes Axe’ enforcing a host of tax increases and economic cutbacks in the UK public sector. This austere management of public economies included Ministry of Pensions’ domestic policy; from 1922 onwards, there was a dramatic reduction in exclusive Ministry-run medical facilities, including facilities providing progressive and innovative psychotherapeutic treatment. There was a resulting assumption amongst medical and pensions officials that the neurasthenic pensioner could not be cured. Instead, mentally ill veterans were largely ‘pensioned off’ with little state intervention to aid their recovery.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
Michael Robinson

Insane ex-servicemen admitted into a district asylum were officially designated as ‘Service Patients’. They were treated akin to private patients with the Ministry of Pensions providing the necessary finance. This chapter examines the experiences of insane Great War veterans under treatment in the post-war Irish district lunatic asylum. Legislation and public perception of the mentally ill remaining relatively conservative throughout the inter-war period. Like the vast majority of civilian patients, many Service Patients remained in the asylum long term where containment, rather than cure, remained the primary concern of the care provided. Modifications to the Service Patient scheme occurred in Britain in the mid-1920s. Due to public and political pressure, all insane Great War veterans were incorporated into the system regardless of whether their insanity had been judged attributable to their former war service. Crucially, however, this policy was not extended to Ireland due to the comparative lack of societal concern and political lobbying. Ireland’s experience does not reflect the British experience of neuroses. This chapter magnifies how lobbying, public relations and financial interests shaped Ministry policy and its rehabilitation of disabled Great War veterans.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
A difficult homecoming

Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39: A difficult homecoming tells the story of Irish veterans of the First World War who suffered from psychoneurotic ailments as a result of war service. Relying on previously untouched and newly released archival material, this monograph is a thematic analysis dedicated to the rehabilitation of mentally ill pensioners who returned to civil society and those who received institutional treatment. The unique socio-political and economic circumstances in Ireland ensures the Irish experience of post-war mental illness and disability does not reflect previous British-centric works. This case study argues that the post-war care and rehabilitation of mentally ill veterans of the Great War was dictated by unique bio-psycho, socio-economic, cultural and political concerns.

Michael Robinson

Chapter 4 analyses soldier-patients who were treated in the Richmond War Hospital in Dublin. The thirty-two-bed hospital, set up in an adjunct building of the Richmond District Asylum, was reserved for the exclusive treatment of psychoneurotic casualties of the First World War. It was innovative in the context of Irish mental health care with patients remaining under ‘observation’ in an exclusive military facility without being diagnosed as insane. War hospitals were established to cater for physical injuries, and all soldier-patients wore ‘Hospital Blues’ regardless of their ailment. For the first time, mental illness was deemed treatable in its early stages and was placed on an equal footing to physical wounds. This elevation of status would prove crucial. The war years were witness to a reduction in staff, financial investment and provisions and overcrowding in the public asylums across Ireland. This resulted in a reduced standard of care and a subsequent increase in patient mortalities. Crucially, soldier-patients at the superior RWH were spared this fate due to their segregation from pauper lunatics.

in Shell-shocked British Army veterans in Ireland, 1918–39
Experience and narratives in the Low Countries (1567–1648)
Vincenzo Lavenia

The long war in the Low Countries was both a testing ground and a turning point in the relationship between religion and war, soldiers and clergy. Here, a permanent chaplaincy for the pastoral care of the Spanish enlisted soldiers – the tercios – was established for the first time under Alessandro Farnese. On both the Catholic and the Protestant sides, dozens of books and pamphlets were printed to motivate the combatants in the service of their faith, and to discipline the armies’ behaviour. This chapter seeks to reconstruct the experience of the Catholic military chaplains before and after the establishment of the Jesuit missio castrensis led by Thomas Sailly. More specifically, it shows how the narrative of war, violence and death, and the role of the chaplains among the soldiery, changed between the early years of the conflict and the later phase after Farnese’s arrival.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Diplomatic correspondence, news and narratives in the early years of the civil war in the Low Countries
M.J. Rodríguez Salgado

The wars in the Low Countries in diplomatic correspondence between 1567 and 1577 are the starting point of this chapter: but a prelude, rather than the substantive part. Initial research on several of Philip II’s ambassadors revealed that it was often difficult to identify what materials they used for their communications to foreign courts. It was impossible to reconstruct adequately most of the narratives they transmitted, and ‘spin’ is often the essence of political narrative. The surviving papers of ambassadors allows an assessment of the kinds of information they received relating to events in the Low Countries. To what extent did they rely on official documentation describing events in the region? If they had private sources of information, did these include first-hand accounts of military encounters and life at the front? Did commanders and/or administrators inform ambassadors of their activities and, if so, can we detect whether it was as part of the habitual information and patronage exchanges, or if there was a clear intention to project their own role in these newsworthy events? How far were ambassadors aware of, or participants in, the propaganda wars?

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries