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Army, Medicine, and Modernity in WWI Germany

This book is a critical examination of the relationships between war, medicine, and the pressures of modernization in the waning stages of the German Empire. Through her examination of wartime medical and scientific innovations, government and military archives, museum and health exhibitions, philanthropic works, consumer culture and popular media, historian Heather Perry reveals how the pressures of modern industrial warfare did more than simply transform medical care for injured soldiers—they fundamentally re-shaped how Germans perceived the disabled body. As the Empire faced an ever more desperate labour shortage, military and government leaders increasingly turned to medical authorities for assistance in the re-organization of German society for total war. Thus, more than a simple history of military medicine or veteran care, Recycling the Disabled tells the story of the medicalization of modern warfare in Imperial Germany and the lasting consequences of this shift in German society.

Professional politics and public education in Britain, 1870–1970
Author: Vicky Long

Challenging the assumption that the stigma attached to mental illness stems from public ignorance and irresponsible media coverage, this book examines mental healthcare workers’ efforts to educate the public in Britain between 1870 and 1970. It covers a period which saw the polarisation of madness and sanity give way to a belief that mental health and illness formed a continuum, and in which segregative care within the asylum began to be displaced by the policy of community care. The book argues that the representations of mental illness conveyed by psychiatrists, nurses and social workers were by-products of professional aspirations, economic motivations and perceptions of the public, sensitive to shifting social and political currents. Sharing the stigma of their patients, many healthcare workers sought to enhance the prestige of psychiatry by emphasising its ability to cure acute and minor mental disorder. However, this strategy exacerbated the stigma attached to severe and enduring mental health problems. Indeed, healthcare workers occasionally fuelled the stereotype of the violent, chronically-ill male patient in an attempt to protect their own interests. Drawing on service users’ observations, the book contends that current campaigns, which conflate diverse experiences under the label mental illness, risk trivialising the difficulties facing people who live with severe and enduring mental disturbance, and fail to address the political, economic and social factors which fuel discrimination.

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The social construction of feeble-mindedness in the American eugenic era

Many people are shocked upon discovering that tens of thousands of innocent persons in the United States were involuntarily sterilized, forced into institutions, and otherwise maltreated within the course of the eugenic movement (1900–30). Such social control efforts are easier to understand when we consider the variety of dehumanizing and fear-inducing rhetoric propagandists invoke to frame their potential victims. This book details the major rhetorical themes employed within the context of eugenic propaganda, drawing largely on original sources of the period. Early in the twentieth century the term “moron” was developed to describe the primary targets of eugenic control. This book demonstrates how the image of moronity in the United States was shaped by eugenicists.

This book will be of interest not only to disability and eugenic scholars and historians, but to anyone who wants to explore the means by which pejorative metaphors are utilized to support social control efforts against vulnerable community groups.

Genetics, pathology, and diversity in twentieth-century America

Is deafness a disability to be prevented or the uniting trait of a cultural community to be preserved? Combining the history of eugenics and genetics with deaf and disability history, this book traces how American heredity researchers moved from trying to eradicate deafness to embracing it as a valuable cultural diversity. It looks at how deafness came to be seen as a hereditary phenomenon in the first place, how eugenics became part of progressive reform at schools for the deaf, and what this meant for early genetic counselling. Not least, this is a story of how deaf people’s perspectives were pushed out of science, and how they gradually reemerged from the 1950s onwards in new cooperative projects between professionals and local signing deaf communities. It thus sheds light on the early history of culturally sensitive health care services for minorities in the US, and on the role of the psycho-sciences in developing a sociocultural minority model of deafness. For scholars and students of deaf and disability studies and history, as well as health care professionals and activists, this book offers new insight to changing ideas about medical ethics, reproductive rights, and the meaning of scientific progress. Finally, it shows how genetics came to be part of recent arguments about deafness as a form of biocultural diversity.

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.

Setting the standards for disability in the interwar period.

Measuring difference, numbering normal provides a detailed study of the technological construction of disability by examining how the audiometer and spirometer were used to create numerical proxies for invisible and inarticulable experiences. Measurements, and their manipulation, have been underestimated as crucial historical forces motivating and guiding the way we think about disability. Using measurement technology as a lens, this book draws together several existing discussions on disability, healthcare, medical practice, embodiment and emerging medical and scientific technologies at the turn of the twentieth century. As such, this work connects several important and usually separate academic subject areas and historical specialisms. The standards embedded in instrumentation created strict but ultimately arbitrary thresholds of normalcy and abnormalcy. Considering these standards from a long historical perspective reveals how these dividing lines shifted when pushed. The central thesis of this book is that health measurements are given artificial authority if they are particularly amenable to calculability and easy measurement. These measurement processes were perpetuated and perfected in the interwar years in Britain as the previously invisible limits of the body were made visible and measurable. Determination to consider body processes as quantifiable was driven by the need to compensate for disability occasioned by warfare or industry. This focus thus draws attention to the biopower associated with systems, which has emerged as a central area of concern for modern healthcare in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Attitudes, interventions, legacies

The Victorian era, encompassing the latter six decades of the nineteenth century, was a period by which significant areas of the British Isles had become industrialised and urbanised. Both processes exacerbated the extent of impairing conditions, ranging from industrial injury through the prevalence of debilitating physiological illnesses. Disability and the Victorians: attitudes, interventions, legacies brings together the work of eleven scholars and focuses on the history of disability and, while showcasing the work of a diverse gathering of historians, also gives a flavour of how disability history engages the work of scholars from other disciplines and how they, in turn, enhance historical thought and understanding. Equally, while the focus is on the Victorian era, a time during which society changed significantly, both at the bottom and from the top, it was also a time in which patterns developed that were to have an enduring influence. Therefore, a taste of that enduring influence is presented in chapters that suggest the resilience of Victorian thought and practices in the modern era. Consequently, an underlying aim is to encourage readers to take a broad view, both of ‘disability’ and of Victorian influences and values.

Leisure and cohesion, 1945-1995
Author: Martin Atherton

Discourses on the social and cultural aspects of deafness emphasise the vital role played by deaf clubs in nurturing and maintaining deaf communities. Despite this, there has been virtually no previous research into the social and leisure activities provided for deaf people by the deaf clubs or the specific nature of deaf communal leisure. This book, based on an extensive longitudinal study of British deaf clubs between 1945 and 1995, presents the first detailed analysis of the social lives of deaf people in the UK.

British Deaf News was the major deaf newspaper throughout the 20th century, with deaf clubs reporting their activities and those of their members in each issue, providing a vital information and dissemination service for the geographical isolated pockets of deaf people across the country. Contributors shared information that was of interest to other deaf people and thus provide contemporary historians with extensive insights into the lived deaf experience that is not available from any other written source. The book outlines the volume and variety of leisure activities deaf people engaged in and discusses the vital role this played in maintaining and sustaining the sense of shared experiences and outlooks that are represented by the term ‘deaf community’. The book sets this discussion within a wider analysis of the role of leisure and sport in wider society, to emphasise both the similarities and the unique aspects of the social lives of one of Britain’s least understood minority groups.