The treatment of cases of shell shock in an advanced neurological centre : 29th May 1918 : William Brown

by Julia Evans on May 29, 1918

Published : The Lancet, 2 p197-200,  17th August 1918

Available from  /author a-z or texts by date

Note : Last paragraph of text : In conclusion, I should like to thank Lieutenant Colonel C. S. Myers, F.R.S., R.A.M.C., for his unfailing encouragement and most helpful advice as consultant psychologist in his frequent visits to my wards in France. : See A contribution to the study of shell shock, Being an account of three cases of loss of memory, vision, smell, and taste, Admitted into the Duchess of Westminster War Hospital, Le Touquet : 15th February 1915 : Charles S. Myers or here   

Reference to Sigmund Freud

Quote Brown : The final outbreak of the symptoms represents the partial failure of this effort of repression, or rather is a condition of the success of the psychological repression. The symptoms are “conversion” symptoms, in Freud’s sense of the term-i.e., they represent painful emotion converted into physical innervations.

Psychoneuroses and Psychotherapy. pp. 269, 270.


Josef Breuer & Sigmund Freud: Studies on Hysteria: 1893-1895, SE II 

Published at Richard G. Klein’s site, & available  here    with notes on the case studies.

Further quote from Brown :


This process of “working off” repressed. emotion is what Freud calls “abreaction.” In my view it is the essential therapeutic process in dealing with the majority of war psychoneuroses.


The original shock caused a dissociation of consciousness-i.e., an apparent suppression of a certain series of memories, and of a certain motor function (speech). Now, without accepting Freud’s sexual theory of the origin of the psychoneuroses, for which I have never been able to find any convincing evidence (i.e., as a universal pathogenic factor), I do accept his theory of the cause of mental dissociation-viz., that it is the result of mental conflict and involves repression of emotional states. The repression of any emotion at its inception involves the danger of dissociation, the ideas accompanying the emotion being then more ready. to split off from the rest of the mind and pursue a subconscious life of their own.

Note :  It is probable that the terms conversion, cathartic & abreaction originate from Josef Breuer and not Freud, though Freud does use them. 

Chapter IV The Psychotherapy of Hysteria by Sigmund Freud, does introduce a sexual theory for the origin. See Josef Breuer & Sigmund Freud: Studies on Hysteria: 1893-1895, SE II above.

Related texts

Traumatic cures – Shell Shock, Janet, and the Question of Memory  by Ruth Leys, p103-151, Chapter 5 of ‘Tense Past – Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory’ : edited by Paul Antze & Michael Lambek, Routledge 1996 ;  This chapter is a shortened version of a paper that appeared in Critical Inquiry 20 (Summer 1994) : p623-662

British Psychiatry and the War: 1947: Jacques Lacan  or here

The Real and the Group : 2000 : Éric Laurent or here      

  • Thoughts for the Times on War and Death : 1915b : Sigmund Freud, 

SE XIV 292– 3 : Published : available  here   

SE XVII p205-215  See here 

Published : Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, “Why War?” (1933), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 25-34. 

Available here  or Published at, bilingual, download   here  


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


Julia Evans       

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Sandwich in Kent & London


Further posts :

Case Studies  here   

Case Studies from Life  here     

Use of power  here        

Lacanian Transmission here 

Groups & Cartels  here    

Some Lacanian history  here

Of the clinic  here 

Topology here    

By William Brown   here     

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here           

By Jacques Lacan here           

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here       

Translation Working Group here 

By Julia Evans here