Feature Articles - The Repression of War Experience by W. H. Rivers

W H Rivers Reproduced within this sub-section of the site is a paper written and presented by the renowned British wartime psychiatrist W. H. Rivers (1864-1922).

From October 1915 until the close of 1917 Rivers served at Britain's Craiglockhart War Hospital where men suffering from shell shock, i.e. psychological trauma, were sent for treatment during wartime.

Although the fields of medicine and psychiatry initially struggled with the concept of shell shock Rivers' approach at Craiglockhart received much praise, most notably after the war.  Among the men who received care from Rivers at Craiglockhart were the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen (the former of whom wrote a poem named after this paper - The Repression of War Experience - in gratitude to his mentor in 1917).

The paper reproduced here (divided into sections via the sidebar to the right) was presented to the Section of Psychiatry at the Royal School of Medicine on 4 December 1917, i.e. during wartime.  It was subsequently published in The Lancet on 2 February 1918.

It outlines Rivers' views upon the treatment of the neuroses arising from modern warfare and delivers a series of illustrative cases which came his way while serving at Craiglockhart.

Next - The Process of Repression

A "Communication Trench" was a narrow trench constructed at an angle to a defensive trench to permit concealed access to the defensive trench.

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W H Rivers