Shocked, Exhausted, and Injured: The Canadian Military and Veteran's Experience of Trauma from 1914 to 2014
The Canadian military and veterans have a long history of dealing with psychological trauma caused by war and peacekeeping. Over the past century views about trauma among physicians, military leaders, society, and veterans’ themselves have been shaped by medical theories, predominant views about the ideal soldier and man, and the nation’s role in international affairs. Since the First World War, major conflicts and peacekeeping operations have been responsible for distinct shifts in how trauma is conceptualized, named, and experienced by Canadian soldiers and the public. Canadian historians have examined this subject by looking at particular wars, most notably the First World War, but no attempt has been made to provide a monograph-length study of military trauma over the past century. This thesis utilizes several lenses – medical, social, and cultural – to explore how conceptions of trauma changed from 1914 to 2014, how such changes affected veterans in their civilian life, and the interactions between medical and popular knowledge, military culture, and veterans’ lived experiences. With a particular emphasis on the latter, it uses oral interviews with veterans of the post-Cold War, government reports, medical literature, and national newspapers to track shifts in consciousness about trauma and its social and medical treatment. It argues that despite numerous changes in medical thought and popular understandings of trauma, stigmas about psychological illness persisted, and that masculine ideals inherent in 1914 were still present, albeit in an altered form, one-hundred years later. It also argues that the Canadian veteran’s experience demonstrates that from 1914 to 2014, trauma consistently oscillated between being a medical entity and a metaphorical representation of war, peacekeeping, veterans’ socio-economic struggles, and national identity. This thesis takes advantage of a historically unique openness in the Canadian military since the year 2000 to contribute to a growing literature about trauma in Canadian military history and society.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorDyck, Dr. Erika
CommitteeAdams, Dr. Camelia; Waiser, Dr. Bill; Korinek, Dr. Valerie
Copyright DateDecember 2015
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder