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Self-help books in the early decades of the twentieth century
Jill Kirby

interesting, varied and exciting events’ from all over the world almost as soon as they occurred. If that were not enough, there were also the marvels of wireless and the ‘excitements of flying’. The speed and sophistication of such modernity were all very well, noted Ash, but unfortunately, it put a strain on the nerves that urgently needed attention. 1 Ash was a doctor specialising in nervous diseases, who worked in several London hospitals and through a series of popular works, was one of several writers aiming to help the general population

in Feeling the strain
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Civilian nerves in the Second World War
Jill Kirby

were the specifically gendered contributions of shopping, rationing and housework. That there was such strain was acknowledged by the publication of a government public health information leaflet in 1943 entitled ‘Just Nerves!’ 17 Examination of this document offers insight into official views and advice about wartime mental health, while also reconfirming existing ideas about causation and the association of physical and psychological suffering. Its somewhat mixed messages illustrate the limitations on the government's ability to tackle the issue, and its reliance

in Feeling the strain
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A cultural history of stress in twentieth-century Britain
Author: Jill Kirby

Drawing on a wealth of sources including self-help books, Mass Observation diaries and directives, oral history interviews, social science research and popular culture, Feeling the strain examines why stress became the ubiquitous explanation for a range of everyday ills by the end of the twentieth century in Britain. It explores the popular, vernacular discourse of nerves and stress to uncover how ordinary people understood, explained and coped with the pressures and strains of daily life and illuminates not only how stress was known, but the ways in which that knowledge was produced.

By focusing on contemporary popular understandings, it reveals continuity of ideas about work, mental health, status, gender and individual weakness, as well as the socio-economic contexts that enabled stress to become the accepted explanation for a wide range of daily experiences. It foregrounds continuities in managing stress and changes in ideas about causation, revealing a vocabulary of ‘nerves’ and ‘nervous disorders’ as precursors to stress but also illustrating the mutability of the stress concept and how its very imprecision gave it utility.

Feeling the strain provides first-hand accounts from sufferers, families and colleagues and offers insight into self-help literature, the meanings of work and changing dynamics of domestic life over the century, delivering a complementary perspective to medical histories of stress and making a significant contribution to histories of everyday life and emotion in Britain during the twentieth century.

Rosalind Powell

Testy signifies a version of ‘the phenomenon of an human body, in which the nerves have been omitted’, whilst Samuel Sensitive is made up of ‘little else’ but nerves; the former is angered by ‘tangible tribulations’ and the latter plagued by nervous upsets (pp. 2–3). Samuel Sensitive paints a picture of the defenceless, always-feeling everyman: ‘What, my poor Sir, are the senses, but five yawning inlets to hourly and momentary molestations? – What is your House, while you are in it, but a prison filled with nests of

in Perception and analogy
Martin Yuille and Bill Ollier

, hypertension). Having risk factors in common is, again, not proof that one thing causes another. Nerve damage . Long-term elevated blood glucose concentrations can eventually cause damage to many of the nerves in the body. Hands, feet, thighs, hips, the face and the internal organs are commonly involved. Kidney damage. Symptoms include less urine, swelling of the legs and unexplained shortness of breath. A protein called albumin escapes through the kidneys and this is found in nearly half of diabetics. 5 Eye damage. Long-term elevated blood glucose concentrations can

in Saving sick Britain
The experience of the sick in the eighteenth century
Micheline Louis-Courvoisier

point my finger, there it hurts’) (see Plate 9).11 Black bile, the liver, the spleen and therefore the viscera were thus connected with the cognitive and mental functions for as long as the theory of the humours remained valid. The theory of the nerves, which co-existed with that of the humours for nearly two centuries, also links the physiology of the abdomen to intellectual and mental problems. The illustrations to books written by the physician Thomas Willis (1625–1675) clearly depict the nervous plexuses, locating them in the abdomen and showing them as linked to

in Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century
Stephen T. Casper

of specialised medicine? Did the neurologists’ unique path to specialisation leave a marked legacy in the historiography of neurology? And finally, how might the neurologists’ integrative identity have contributed to the rise of a postmodern culture preoccupied with the brain and the nerves? To begin to answer these questions, it is necessary first to mention a few important trends in neurology then and now, and secondly to explore how neurologists’ tendencies to possess and aggrandise the integrative perspective left them with a marked legacy of ambivalence

in The neurologists
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

Henriques, whose older brother was the first officer of the Royal West Surrey Regiment to be killed in action, referenced the ‘curious steel-plate armour’ which continued ‘to grow round one’s head’. 5 The ubiquity of fear made any failure to master emotions understandable. Combatants’ use of the words ‘nerves’, ‘nervy’ and ‘fear’ did not equate to a loss of self-control. A hierarchy of sympathy developed based on the spirit of equality. The distress exhibited by shell shock was judged sympathetically, whereas the abandonment of men via shirking or deliberate desertion of

in Brothers in the Great War
Abstract only
Rhodri Hayward

-physiologists, who presented habit as a mechanism through which action and emotion could be physically inscribed upon the nerves. Maudsley and Carpenter believed that the nervous system would develop around the points of its most frequent exercise.19 The doctrine contained the seeds of the pedagogic project, for it became possible (in theoretical terms at least) to transform the whole of an individual’s life through a handful of strategic childhood interventions. The task of future discipline was delegated to the plasticity of human nature. As James recognised, ‘Habit is thus the

in Resisting history
Emma Vickers

taught how to wash, dress, make their beds and tidy their living quarters, clean and polish, perform menial labour, march and parade, exercise and behave appropriately towards NCOs and commissioned officers. Training was deliberately designed to toughen up new recruits and test their nerves. Len Waller began his Army training in 1940, a process seemingly devoid of humanity. ‘Every day we were marched and yelled at up and down the barrack square. We were cursed, humiliated, degraded and worked until we were fit to drop. At the end of each day’s training we were allowed

in Queen and country