By Susan Kingsley Kent
This publication examines the impression of collective trauma bobbing up out of the good battle at the politics of the Twenties in Britain. Aftershocks reviews how meanings of shellshock and imagery offering the traumatized psyche as shattered contributed to Britons understandings in their political selves within the Nineteen Twenties. It connects the strength of feelings to the political tradition of a decade which observed amazing violence opposed to these considered as un-English.
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Additional resources for Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931
Gibbs blamed “the seeds of insanity in the brains of men” on the “abnormal life of war” and on women who gave them venereal disease. In this version, the war and women become confused. “Sexually [the men] were starved,” he argued. For months they lived out of the sight and presence of women. But they came back into villages or towns where they were tempted by any poor slut who winked at them and infected them with illness. Jews, “Blacks,” and the Promises of Radical Conservatism, 1919–1925 37 Men went to hospital with venereal disease in appalling numbers.
He sprang at her and caught her by the throat . . the accused said . . ’ ” Gibbs blamed “the seeds of insanity in the brains of men” on the “abnormal life of war” and on women who gave them venereal disease. In this version, the war and women become confused. “Sexually [the men] were starved,” he argued. For months they lived out of the sight and presence of women. But they came back into villages or towns where they were tempted by any poor slut who winked at them and infected them with illness.
Something was wrong. They put on civilian clothes again, looked to their mothers and wives very much like the young men who had gone to business in the peaceful days before August of ’14. But they had not come back the same men. Something had altered in them. They were subject to queer moods, queer tempers, ﬁts of profound depression alternating with a restless desire for pleasure. Many of them were easily moved to passion when they lost control of themselves. 2 In January 1919, returning soldiers rioted all over England; in June 1919, soldiers waiting to be demobilized attacked the Epsom police station and killed the station sergeant; in July, ex-servicemen rioting in protest against having been excluded from the ceremonies that marked “Peace Day” in Luton destroyed the town hall, resulting in 100 casualties.
Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 by Susan Kingsley Kent