The McGovern Lecture is hosted annually at Green Templeton College, and focuses on the history of medicine. You can find a list of past McGovern Lectures here.
Professor Edgar Jones (Instutute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London) will deliver this year’s lecture, Shell Shock: understanding psychological casualties from the battlefield.
The scale of the First World War, and in particular the high numbers of killed and wounded, marked the conflict as one of the most significant events of the twentieth century. For the first time, psychiatric casualties were not only a medical priority but also presented as a military crisis. In a protracted war of attrition, shell shock had the capacity to erode morale and undermine the fighting strength of the major combatants. Some senior physicians, such as Gordon Holmes, interpreted shell shock in the absence of a head wound as little more than cowardice, whilst others, including Charles Myers and Frederick Mott, explored ideas of psychological vulnerability and sought to correlate its symptoms with traumatic exposure. Clinical presentations differed between armies. In the UK, shell shock was commonly represented as a movement disorder, characterised by tremor and unusual gaits. This stood in contrast to Germany and Italy where seizures and dissociated, soldier-like actions were more commonly reported. Possible explanations for these national differences will be discussed in the context of combat medical services.
When: Wednesday 25 October, 18:00-19.30
Where: E P Abraham Lecture Theatre, Green Templeton College, Woodstock Road, Oxford.
This lecture is free for all to attend, but booking is essential: book your seat here!