Gender and Trauma, East and West

Date/Time: Fri 25 Aug / 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Location: Monash University, Room E561, (Menzies Building) 20 Chancellors Walk, Clayton Campus

Philosophical, Historical and International Studies (SoPHIS)

History Program Research Seminars

Gender and Trauma, East and West

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) entered the psychiatric lexicon in 1980. Historians have, for the most part, drawn a straight line back in time to trace PTSD’s origins to shell shock in World War I. While wartime experiences, both military and civilian, were without doubt central to defining psychological trauma in the twentieth century, this narrative renders invisible the place of all-too-ordinary women’s experiences of gendered violence in the evolving medical understanding of trauma’s origins and treatment. In an effort to write women back into the story of PTSD’s evolution, this project analyses the twentieth-century evolution of this diagnosis in two distinct contexts: the United States and the USSR, where Freudianism was—respectively—embraced and suppressed. The comparative perspective allows me to explore how gender and trauma was refracted through very different perspectives on female psychology. The paper takes childbirth, a distinctly female site of trauma, as a case study in how Freudians and anti-Freudians understood trauma and what that tells us about mid-century views of women and psychology in the East and in the West.

Associate  Professor Paula Michaels is the author of two prize-winning books and numerous articles. Her research focuses on the social history of medicine in the USSR, Western Europe, and North America. She is editor (with R. Kokanovic) of the forthcoming Paths to Parenthood: Emotions on the Journey through Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Early Parenthood (London: Palgrave MacMillan).

Friday 25th August

12:00pm – 1:00pm

E561, Faculty Seminar Room,
Menzies Building,
20 Chancellors Walk,
Clayton Campus

For more information, please contact Julie Kalman on 9905 2161.

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