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Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma in the Modern Age, 1870-1930

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 20 April 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:983
  1. Simon Wessely (, professor
  1. Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, Guy's, King's College, and St Thomas's Hospitals School of Medicine and Institute of Psychiatry, London

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    Eds Mark S Micale, Paul Lerner

    Cambridge University Press, £40, pp 315

    ISBN 0 521 58365 9

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    Our fascination with the psychological costs of the first world war shows no sign of diminishing. The successes of Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy and Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong have been a publisher's dream. Battlefield tours have never been more popular. Apparently sane men from Humberside recently consented to spend three weeks in a recreated Flanders trench on behalf of the cameras, although the fact that all survived the experience unscathed suggests that the recreation was not entirely authentic. However, afterwards all the participants made a pilgrimage to one of those vast, spellbinding cemeteries—to be confronted with Sassoon's “nameless names”—and paid their tearful respects.

    There is a barely suppressed subtext to much of our modern fascination with the psychiatry of the Great War. It is that we do things better …

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