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Pain, childhood, and the emotions: a cultural history c. 1870-1950

Pain, childhood, and the emotions: a cultural history c. 1870-1950

Fernández-Fontecha Rumeu, María Leticia (2017) Pain, childhood, and the emotions: a cultural history c. 1870-1950. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis is a study of pain in childhood in British medical and scientific discourse between 1870 and 1950. It explores the physical, emotional, and performative dimensions of pain from a cultural perspective, analysing written documents and visual material and comparing the perspectives of disciplines including physiology, paediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis. Successive chapters focus on: Depictions of pain by medical authors before the period covered in depth by the thesis; how different types of medical professional interpreted children’s pain between 1870 and 1900, focusing on Great Ormond Street Hospital’s photographs of sick children; the development of “infant pain denial” from 1890 to 1950 in the Child Study movement, behavioural psychology, and paediatrics; concepts and treatment of child insanity and mental suffering in the second half of the nineteenth century; the rivalry between the competing theoretic frameworks of the clinical tradition (which claimed a somatic basis for mental illness) and psychotherapy; debates about evacuation of the children during the Second World War, exploring the contrasting figures of the victim of air raids and the victim of parental separation, showing the role played by psychoanalysis in understanding psychological trauma, with a focus on the work of psychoanalysts Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, and Donald Winnicott. The key findings of the thesis are: rivalry between different scientific disciplines meant that medical and scientific models of childhood pain and therapeutic treatments involved complex relationships between different professions and institutions; despite medicalisation, identifying and categorising children with pain often depended on non-medical factors, which usually reflected social norms; the figure of the child in pain accumulates power and value through its multiple figurations in distinct disciplines and contexts; a multidisciplinary approach is needed to be able to understand the cultural power of this figure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pain in childhood; infant pain; mental diseases and pain; psychoanalytic discourse;
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Education (EDU)
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 13:29

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