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Remembered Today:

Forgotten Lunatics of The Great War


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salientpoints
I bet your heart sank when you saw I'd added to this thread! :P

Ha.

Quality! :lol: ha ha!

But then I would never had read that review, which was v.good!

Thanks again

Ryan

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  • 2 months later...
salientpoints

"There are some men who dislike military service to such an extent that it sends them off their heads. It is a tall order for the State to take on the liability to support, possibly for life, a man who becomes a lunatic because he is a coward and fears to undertake the liability which falls upon him as an Englishman" - Ministry of Pensions, March 1918...

Well folks, today a finished copy of 'Forgotten Lunatic of The Great War' landed on my doormat.

At 452 pages it looks quite a comprehensive work.

I should like to begin reading this as soon as but have so many already I am sure someone else here will have read it before me but I will give it a try!

I would like to quote from the jacket:

"Peter Barham shows how public feeling abut the injustice being shown to servicemen who had become insane through fighting for their country resulted in the emergence of the Peoples Lunatic, producing major concessions from the authorities. He examines the fate of the Peoples Lunatic in the class antagonisms between the wars and the uphill struggles that ex-servicemen faced trying to secure justic from the ironic behemoth that was the ministry of pensions. His book contributes a missing dimension to our understanding of the social and psychological impact of the Great War, opens a window on the lasting inequalities and division of interwar Britain, and gives a new perspective to current disputes over the traumas of war".

Sounds like it will be very interesting. I have not read into this before so am looking forward to a new area.

ISBN 0300103794 £19.95 Published 3rd September 2004

Ryan

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  • 1 month later...

There is a favourable Review by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst in the Arts "Telegraph" Sat. 21 August.

Kath.

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This is announce to Pals the book is now available and if anyone is serious to give this a review would they please contact me as I am in a position to put them forward to receiving a review copy.

Cheers

Ryan

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I recieved my copy yesterday from Amazon... Started it last night- totally sobering account of an area so little touched upon. Even after 50 pages or so, I would unreservedly recommend this to anyone with an interest in the after effects of the Great War. It is social history at its best- and very readable. As I haven't finished the book yet I won't go on...

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Strange the power of words

The title suggested to me unfortunate men spending their lives in an institution seldom visited, trapped in a nightmare world of their own

Nothing insulting at all only tragic

One of my best mates nursed Poles like that, they had GPI - OK that could be argued is self inflicted, but 40 years after the war in a foreign land alone and mad?

The book "Spike Island" is interesting about mental treatment at Netley Hospital

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So after all this no one is actually interested in receiving a review copy?

Surely not...?

This is a genuine offer in conjunction with the author and publisher. If anyone is serious please contact me.

Cheers

Ryan

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  • 2 weeks later...

If any Pals are interested in this particular title I am now running another free 'no catches' draw on my site, this time for this book.

Cheers

Ryan

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  • 3 months later...
As it stands, the title reinforces in the mind of a casual observer that it is acceptable to describe ill people as lunatics.

You may be right, Gwyn, but what immediately sprang to mind when I read the title and Ryan's synopsis of the book is that the author is saying just the opposite - that it is not acceptable at all to so label people and then dismiss them. The book appears to be a sympathetic attempt to consider the uphill struggle faced by these men and the writer appears to be firmly on their side.

Tom

That is my reading of it, to Tom. I have almost finished the book and it is a cracking read and places "lunatics" as they were then called well within the historical congtext.

Robbie

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Well, somthing of a controversy here!

I am reading the book at the moment and am finding it absolutely fascinating. Not only does it give a clear idea of contemporary attitudes to mental health, from a social point of view it shows how the authorities distinguished medical conditions by class and rank. So much ink has been spilt about Wilfred and Siegfried at Craiglockhart and the work of progressives live Rivers with officers. This redresses the balance somewhat. The National Army Museum (where I work) sets out to tell the story of the British soldier. This book has proved enlightening to me as I had not realised the extent to which these men were neglected and enlisted when they had a history of indstitutional care. It really was an eye-opener. They really were men classed A1 physically, with no regard to their mental health history.

Far more work also needs to be done on how people were treated after the war was over. The study of pensions, veteran associations, the care of the injured (mentally and physically) are all important subjects. This book makes an important contribution and I hope more will follow on other topics post-war.

Simon Moody

Ps Titles are a tricky business!

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Far more work also needs to be done on how people were treated after the war was over. The study of pensions, veteran associations, the care of the injured (mentally and physically) are all important subjects. This book makes an important contribution and I hope more will follow on other topics post-war.

Simon Moody

Ps Titles are a tricky business!

Hello Simon,

You may also like to pick up a copy of "The War Come Home - Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany 1914-1939"

ISBN 0520220080

Cheers

Ryan

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  • 7 months later...
John Gilinsky

:huh: I have read Peter Barham's book and I have several major reservations about it.

FIRST: Mr. Barham writes from a moralizing late 20th century person's vantage point: a classic historical fallacy - imposing one's own morality on the past. It is easy far too easy as we ALL know to do this. Repeatedly condemning a government and in this particular case the British health and pensions system when in reality all or most of this was NEW to everyone at the time is palpably unfair(no I do not work for the government!) simply because it is convenient to support your main thesis. Barhma criticizes the "workhouse mentality" (my quotes) and the indifferent asylum system (I believe he has written critically on the institutional asylum system of Great Britain in the past including book(s)) as if society as a whole was to blame. Again another historical fallacy: find someone who can criticize from your desk TODAY without placing into context what "mentally ill" [ my quotes see below ] people had to go through in general. Is it really progress to relaease to the community at large most if not all such persons who due to the urban nature of society (even in 1920 and later England and elsewhere) unsupervised? Remember psychiatric social work (I believe Mr.Barham is professionally such) was in infancy as was psychiatry and even psychology. State funding was also in its infancy. In short society overall was mentally shocked by the whole phenomenon of apparently normal working class people and others suddenly not fitting in, behaving according to then social norms and doing the right thing etc.....

SECONDLY: Barham generalizes about individuals with whom he admits he has only some limited information on. Again generalizing from a few particulars seems pretty fallacious to me! Few statistics are provided but again we can admit that stats can easily be manipulated overall. Writing or one might say revising OUR society's views of the working class to show how unfairly they were treated does fit into the neat self-criticism of supporting one's CURRENT moral view of the world.

THIRDLY: WHAT ABOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES as a significant contribution to the military mentally ill and/or "shell shocked" soldier? Professionals (that is doctors since LD is a medcial label) estimate that at least half the world's population of TODAY have LD. Even if we for argument's sake presume that only 25 per cent of the British male population (and from what we know of LD it generally seems more prevalent and worse in males than females) had moderate to severe UNDIAGNOSED (the labels of idiot, lunatic, imbecile, slow, retarded (even this a later term),mentally deficient,.....) this clearly contributed to some shell shocked soldiers combined with the early (Kitchener's Army including CEF) need for manpower quickly predisposition as we might call it inclinations to "crack" under stress. The Americans learned well in 1917 and 1918 and prescreened many of their military. The impact of LD in history is in myhop incredible: think of Winston Churchill, think of riots, criminals, etc..... Think of all those humans in history who have had ADHD!

Peter Barham should be commended for tackling a fascinating subject and doing a good deal of research. I just wish that he had consulted with more historians outside of his field rather than write what can be easily construed as far too "politically correct."

John

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Is it really progress to relaease to the community at large most if not all such persons who due to the urban nature of society ... later England and elsewhere) unsupervised? 

John

What do you mean?

That people who have mental ill health should not be loose in society?

Gwyn

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What do you mean?

That people who have mental ill health should not be loose in society?

Gwyn

I think that there are mentally ill people who should not be released into society at all and that others should receive adequate support and the required level of supervision to allow them to take their place in open society.

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Hi

I read the book when it come out and it added some new information to my small knowledge of the war and the after mouth in the 1920 and 1930s in the way soldier with mental health problems were treated. But please how can any one get upset over the name of the book. The problem with mental health carers is they get involve to much. Its as if they have the problems and not the patient its like there in the 1st Batt of straitjackets. Get a life the forum is about the Great War not your work and how you look after the ---edited:offensive--- . Yes i can speck about this as i was diagnosed with PTSD from the first Gulf War. After working with the Army War Graves Unit for 4 months yes i have seen dead soldier's in combat ours as well as the enemies. Most were mutilated and damaged bodies, sights that i am unable to forget. Sometimes, if i am really lucky, i get unwanted memories that can be so strong and frighteningly vivid. That it has spoilt and corrupted my life. So go on your own gilt trip and do not tell the rest of us that you get upset about a name of a book if the cap fits wear it.

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Monsstar

I now regret investing a long time in responding in a lot of detail to your queries about mental health in one of your early threads on this forum.

Your comments about getting a life, being a the stigmatising expression you used, that the forum is not about my work and having my own ‘gilt’ [sic] trip are personal and offensive. You assume that I am a mental health carer. You do not know what I do, or even whether I have a job, or what involvement I have in mental health, or whether I have any personal experience of PTSD, and I am not going to post personally identifying information on the forum.

I would draw to your attention the fact that my favourable review of ‘Forgotten Lunatics’ has been published elsewhere and would have been published anyway whether the author liked it or not. As it happened, he did. I reviewed the book objectively and professionally regardless of my misgivings about the title.

Language matters. I am truly sorry that you have the torments of a PTSD. You might not mind what people call you, and what attitudes the public have about mental health in general, but I am sure that you would agree with me that mental ill-health is as individual as the person concerned; and thus there are people who do mind about it and their feelings are valid. The RCPsych believes that language matters and I suggest that their members may have encountered more people across the entire spectrum of mental health than you have.

I will know next time when you are seeking facts and interpretation about mental health that you do not require information from people like me. I will remember that I need to ‘get a life’ and focus on the Great War.

Gwyn

Edited by Dragon
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:huh: I have read Peter Barham's book and I have several major reservations about it.

FIRST: Mr. Barham writes from a moralizing late 20th century person's vantage point: a classic historical fallacy - imposing one's own morality on the past.

Q: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A "MORALIZING LATE 20TH century viewpoint. I disagree here. For the most part, he writes from a viewpoint which, of necessity, encompasses findings published during the last 85 years.

Repeatedly condemning a government and in this particular case the British health and pensions system when in reality all or most of this was NEW to everyone at the time is palpably unfair.

Q: you appear to personalise Barham's criticisms of this sytem. Isn't it the task of an historian or scientist to discuss the limitations of earlier policies and practices?

Remember psychiatric social work was in infancy as was psychiatry and even psychology. State funding was also in its infancy. In short society overall was mentally shocked by the whole phenomenon of apparently normal working class people and others suddenly not fitting in, behaving according to then social norms and doing the right thing etc.....

Q: yes, you now appear to support Barham's views, yes?

SECONDLY: Barham generalizes about individuals with whom he admits he has only some limited information on.

Q: Again, I would say he is merely presenting the material available at the time.

Writing or one might say revising OUR society's views of the working class to show how unfairly they were treated does fit into the neat self-criticism of supporting one's CURRENT moral view of the world.

Q: Explain??

THIRDLY: WHAT ABOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES as a significant contribution to the military mentally ill and/or "shell shocked" soldier? Professionals (that is doctors since LD is a medcial label) estimate that at least half the world's population of TODAY have LD. Even if we for argument's sake presume that only 25 per cent of the British male population (and from what we know of LD it generally seems more prevalent and worse in males than females) had moderate to severe UNDIAGNOSED (the labels of idiot, lunatic, imbecile, slow, retarded (even this a later term),mentally deficient,.....) this clearly contributed to some shell shocked soldiers combined with the early (Kitchener's Army including CEF) need for manpower quickly predisposition as we might call it inclinations to "crack" under stress. The Americans learned well in 1917 and 1918 and prescreened many of their military. The impact of LD in history is in myhop incredible: think of Winston Churchill, think of riots, criminals, etc..... Think of all those humans in history who have had ADHD!

Q: Is there any research causally linking "learning disablities" and "shellshock"? Do you mean those with IQs less than the average (100)? Were "learning disablities" clearly specified at this time?

I just wish that he had consulted with more historians outside of his field rather than write what can be easily construed as far too "politically correct."

Q: Barham's book is an academic piece of work; he examines the evidence available at the time, and since. The book tells a great deal about the history of psychology, psychiatry, and social policies of the time. What could contemporary historians outside his "field" contribute?

Robbie

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John Gilinsky

:huh: I have read Peter Barham's book and I have several major reservations about it.

FIRST: Mr. Barham writes from a moralizing late 20th century person's vantage point: a classic historical fallacy - imposing one's own morality on the past.

Q: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A "MORALIZING LATE 20TH century viewpoint. I disagree here. For the most part, he writes from a viewpoint which, of necessity, encompasses findings published during the last 85 years.

IT IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF HISTORIANS TO PASS MORAL JUDGMENTS THOUGH MOST DO MORE OR LESS! ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS THAT PEOPLE GET TURNED OFF HISTORY IF THEY ARE OF THE LOGICAL TYPE. EXAMINE THE FACTS PLEASE, BE OBJECTIVE AS POSSIBLE (social scientists) and DRAW or INFER REASONABLE CONCLUSIONS all derived from SOUND FOUNDATION THESIS QUESTIONS. DO NO PROJECT PRESENT CONCERNS ONTO THE PAST. YOUR generalization about findings published furing the past 85 years also falls prey to the what you presume be the current knowledge that those interested in the subject have NOT what the medical, nor military persons at the time had (far far less).

Repeatedly condemning a government and in this particular case the British health and pensions system when in reality all or most of this was NEW to everyone at the time is palpably unfair.

Q: you appear to personalise Barham's criticisms of this sytem. Isn't it the task of an historian or scientist to discuss the limitations of earlier policies and practices?

Remember psychiatric social work was in infancy as was psychiatry and even psychology. State funding was also in its infancy. In short society overall was mentally shocked by the whole phenomenon of apparently normal working class people and others suddenly not fitting in, behaving according to then social norms and doing the right thing etc.....

Q: yes, you now appear to support Barham's views, yes?

TO THE ABOVE: Barham may be right about certain if not several issues that he raises. HOWEVER what bureaucracy is humanitarian driven? Go look at the record of MOST NGO humanitarian organizations and you will see underlying political, self seeking and vested corporate interests at play..... Mass state bureaucracies with little or no preparation SHOCKED as much as everyone else responded overall as best they could. Picking out a few cases where they system failed or was indifferent is not fair nor reasonable.

SECONDLY: Barham generalizes about individuals with whom he admits he has only some limited information on.

Q: Again, I would say he is merely presenting the material available at the time.

Writing or one might say revising OUR society's views of the working class to show how unfairly they were treated does fit into the neat self-criticism of supporting one's CURRENT moral view of the world.

Q: Explain??

SEE ABOVE: PRESENTISM - that is taking one's personal current political view of the world and imposing it on the past even if it is the recent past. TOO MANY HISTORIANS make this error including well known ones etc....

THIRDLY: WHAT ABOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES as a significant contribution to the military mentally ill and/or "shell shocked" soldier? Professionals (that is doctors since LD is a medcial label) estimate that at least half the world's population of TODAY have LD. Even if we for argument's sake presume that only 25 per cent of the British male population (and from what we know of LD it generally seems more prevalent and worse in males than females) had moderate to severe UNDIAGNOSED (the labels of idiot, lunatic, imbecile, slow, retarded (even this a later term),mentally deficient,.....) this clearly contributed to some shell shocked soldiers combined with the early (Kitchener's Army including CEF) need for manpower quickly predisposition as we might call it inclinations to "crack" under stress. The Americans learned well in 1917 and 1918 and prescreened many of their military. The impact of LD in history is in myhop incredible: think of Winston Churchill, think of riots, criminals, etc..... Think of all those humans in history who have had ADHD!

Q: Is there any research causally linking "learning disablities" and "shellshock"? Do you mean those with IQs less than the average (100)? Were "learning disablities" clearly specified at this time?

GOOD QUESTIONS THAT WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE ANSWERED AT LEAST IN OUR LIFETIMES (100 year closure +_ for patient files) NOT TO MENTION the insufficiency of medical records (NO IQs nor screening was done for most of ww1).

The 1918 guide for Canadian Army Medical Department simply states that the doctors should pay special attention to the recruit's / conscript's intelligence (i.e. personal judgement of doctor ) Only in medical or hospital cases (though I think in 1918 this did change with the screening of RETURNING CEF vets) was IQ or psych screening done. FASCINATING THOUGH TO compare this with what the ALLIES did in WW2 including CANADIANS: comprehensive screening at least in theory. [ Remember the scene in Gallipoli where the man with bad teeth is rejected by the mo but he is then passed when the mo sees that his friends will not enlist if the bad teeth guy is passed! ].

THINK OF THIS:

SEHLL SHOCK and

Clinical DEPRESSION

Learning Disabilities (ADHD, etc....)

Low IQ's (borderline mentally retarded [old term])

I just wish that he had consulted with more historians outside of his field rather than write what can be easily construed as far too "politically correct."

Q: Barham's book is an academic piece of work; he examines the evidence available at the time, and since. The book tells a great deal about the history of psychology, psychiatry, and social policies of the time. What could contemporary historians outside his "field" contribute?

YES BARHAM's work is an academic work that is seriously flawed AND quite commendable for its effort and research and partly correct initial focus. However it suffers from a post 1919 limitation of access to records (naturally) AND the above criticisms I have pointed out. It also does not as the Barham admits in his opening words deal with much that could relate such as delving further into military records. For example what about those soldiers court-martialled and NOT executed (the great majority by the way) who were shell shocked and/or LD, or clinically depressed etc....? Again lack of sources and / or access as well as keeping manageable one's work (I think Barham should have spent some more time focussing on one of the large asylums that had say 200 or more ex-soldiers and doing an exhaustive individual life history for each to trace patterns/careers etc....).

My feedback is given in good faith and IS DEFINITELY NOT personal. I laugh at academics who get personal and respond with ad hominem attacks as I am sure you and most others on this list do as well!:)))). The idea is that two (or many) heads are better than one! FEEDBACK: by the way I emailed the author and he did respond promptly but when I asked him if he wanted criticisms which he had advertised for right in his book he specifically desisted (perhaps he has moved on or has personal reasons....).

JOHN

KEEP SMILING EVERYONE~! CHEERIO !:)

Robbie

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Thank you for your comphrehensive response, John. However, I do

not agree with you that Barham is guilty of "moralizing".

Moralizing: v 1: interpret the moral meaning of; "moralize a story" [syn: moralise] 2: speak as if delivering a sermon; express moral judgements; "This man always sermonizes" [syn: sermonize, sermonise, preachify, moralise] 3: improve the morals of [syn: moralise]

I found little evidence of "moralizing" (cf. above definition) in this book.

I laugh at academics who get personal and respond with ad hominem attacks as I am sure you and most others on this list do as well!:)))). The idea is that two (or many) heads are better than one!

Q: I can only speak for myself. As a scientist I am not prone to attacking people, per se - merely subjective opinions unsubstantiated by objective research.

I am not suprised that Barham did not wish to hear your comments on his work.

Robbie

You are mistaken John if you think my comments on your criticisms

reflect an "attack" on you.

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John Gilinsky
Thank you for your comphrehensive response, John. However, I do

not agree with you that Barham is guilty of "moralizing".

Moralizing: v 1: interpret the moral meaning of; "moralize a story" [syn: moralise] 2: speak as if delivering a sermon; express moral judgements; "This man always sermonizes" [syn: sermonize, sermonise, preachify, moralise] 3: improve the morals of [syn: moralise]

I found little evidence of "moralizing" (cf. above definition) in this book.

I laugh at academics who get personal and respond with ad hominem attacks as I am sure you and most others on this list do as well!:)))). The idea is that two (or many) heads are better than one!

Q:  I can only speak for myself. As a scientist I am not prone to attacking people, per se - merely subjective opinions unsubstantiated by objective research.

I am not suprised that Barham did not wish to hear your comments on his work.

Robbie

You are mistaken John if you think my comments on your criticisms

reflect an "attack" on you.

If you actually quoted from the book that would be wonderful to support your opinion but you have quoted from a dictionary. Go back and reread (as I will surely do a sign of good research) Barham's work. It drips with moral high ground indignation not something that historians should be doing (but admittedly do the lesser kind).

John

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After following this post I would like to know what members views of this passage of fiction, written in 2005 about the Great War. It is now confusing whether or not this is correct, in context of writing about 1916.

Two days before Christmas, the men rose at three in the morning. They marched to the Gumboot store, where they were issued with thigh high rubber boots. With full packs and blankets, they made their way to Lunatic Lane, the communicating trench that was to lead them into the main trenches. Some trenches were a bit of a puzzle as how they came to be named, but Lunatic Lane was named for the Lunatic Asylum that stood at its head. The going was hard, as they marched through narrow trench after trench. The men realized their mistake in carrying the cumbersome packs and wished they had left most of their gear back behind the lines. After all their training, they were now at the frontline.

Ta

Kim

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