Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Roger Sarty

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The conventional historiography of the treatment of war neurosis in Canada is limited and suggests that "shell shocked" soldiers were diagnosed and assigned treatment based on their rank and social class. According to the literature this meant that officers and soldiers from the upper classes were diagnosed with neurasthenia and given "rest" and "spa" treatments while soldiers from the other ranks and lower classes were diagnosed with hysteria and treated with punitive therapies designed to convince them to return to the front lines. However, these conclusions were based on contemporary medical journals and have been formed with very little archival research. The author, using archival documents and statistical analysis, suggests that soldiers from the other ranks who were treated in England for war neurosis were rarely diagnosed with hysteria and were instead labelled with one or more of several diagnostic terms, the most prevalent of which were "neurasthenia" and/or "shell shock". These solders were also typically treated with "rest" and "spa" therapies; punitive therapies were by far the exception to this type of treatment. The author posits that the pre-war understanding of the "nervous" disorders heavily influenced both diagnosis and treatment.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season