School of Health in Social Science

Lecture: With nerve and heart and mind: nursing the emotional wounds of the First World War

Professor Christine Hallett’s presentation will explore the hidden work of nurses with emotionally-damaged patients during the First World War.

In October 1917, in Craiglockhart Hospital, Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his poem Survivors of the ‘broken’ men - ‘children with eyes that hate you’ - who returned from war. Much has been written about the psychoanalytical work of Dr. William Rivers with these ‘shell-shocked’ patients.

But almost nothing is known about the nurses who supported them on a day-to-day basis. Nurses were a constant presence at the bedside of patients who were suffering from physical and emotional trauma. They offered both emergency support and continuing care to damaged men in military hospitals throughout the world. At the time when Sassoon was composing Survivors, volunteer-nurse, Vera Brittain was caring for prisoners of war at No. 24 General Hospital at Etaples, France. In her poem, ‘The German Ward’, she wrote of how she worked ‘with nerve and heart and mind’ to match the ‘courage and skill’ of the sister-in-charge who was the only trained nurse in the understaffed ward. Christine Hallett’s presentation will explore the hidden work of nurses with emotionally-damaged patients during the First World War. It will examine some of the ways in which nurses enabled patients to process their experiences, resolve their trauma and regain a sense of their own humanity in the highly-charged environment of the military hospital.

All welcome!

Where: Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh Napier University Craiglockhart Campus. The Craiglockhart Exhibition will be open to visitors from 6pm

When: Thursday 20th November 2014, 6.30pm-7.30pm

Cost: Free but ticketed

Contact: ww1nursing@ed.ac.uk