Emotional Containment: Nurses and Resilience

Christine E Hallett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The psychic impact of the First World War has been a subject of debate since the late 1920s. After a period of silence lasting over ten years, former combatants began to write of their experiences. It became a truism that the war had damaged men’s minds – sometimes irreparably. Autobiographical accounts such as Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That, and Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War brought the impact of trench warfare to the attention of modern societies.1 Hard-hitting semi-fictional accounts such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front went further, deliberately traumatising the reader by using a language and an imagery that forced a confrontation, not so much with the physical realities of war, as with it psychic truths: that war was horrific, painful and destructive (and not heroic) and that surviving it was the most impressive feat a man could achieve.2 In among these publications – and largely unnoticed – were the works of nurses such as Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone and Ellen La Motte’s The Backwash of War, offering eyewitness accounts of suffering and moral degradation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe First World War and Health
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Resilience
EditorsLeo Van Bergen, Eric Vermetten
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9789004428744
ISBN (Print)9789004424173
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameHistory of Warfare
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers


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