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J. Jenkinson and C. Verdier, “War Trauma among Belgian Refugee Women in Scotland in the First World War”

The article starts by discussing what different historians have studied in the past in relation to trauma and women during war but states that this article will explore the lives of wartime civilian refugees that came to Britain from Belgium that were diagnosed with mental illnesses relating to war trauma.

The article continues by discussing the key features of modern PTSD that used to be called ‘war trauma’. It also states that shell shock was associated with feminine weakness and that male combats that experienced shell shock were often emasculated by showing a form of mental disturbance that was associated with women. The article discusses women on the front and that they saw family and friends being shot for no reason while trying to flee.

The article then goes on to discuss the correlation between Belgian citizens war trauma and poor relief applications by looking at the poor relief records in Britain. In comparison to British citizens the Belgian applicants for poor relief had double the amount of diagnosed mental health disorders that the Brits suffered. It also states that there were more women than men applying for poor relief that were diagnosed as ‘insane’. Applications from Belgian refugees were marked with red ink and had the word ‘insane’ written in capital letters at the top where the applicant had been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness.

The article then gives some examples of women that were categorized as ‘insane’ and how they had tried to hurt themselves or their children. One example is Celine Debroven who was diagnosed with war anxiety. She was sent to an asylum and treated for trying to attempt suicide 3 times, she also believed a man was trying to kill her. The last entry in her record was on October 1918, and it stated that her delusions remained.

The article ends by noting that this article has opened up the filed for further research using analysis of similar records elsewhere in Britain.

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