Shell Shock: A Society Uprooted

Kathryn Anne Drever


The introduction of mechanized warfare during World War I sent shockwaves throughout Europe and changed the face of modern battle.  Shell shock, a condition caused by the explosion of military artillery in close contact with human beings, brought a new understanding of human psychology and how strong – or weak – the human mental capacity to function is when exposed to extreme stress and fear.  The impact of shell shock both built up and tore down social barriers in British society during the Interwar period (1918-1939).  The emotional damage caused by shell shock was slow to be understood and moved British society to question long-held beliefs about masculinity, idealistic identity, and social class attitudes.


Shell Shock; Britain; World War I; Psychology; Trauma; Identity

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