Berichte für Wissenschaftsgeschichte: “Militärpsychiatrisches Theater”

Die neue Ausgabe der Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichtecover (36, 1) enthält einen psychiatriegeschichtlich relevanten Artikel:

Julia Barbara Köhne: Militärpsychiatrisches Theater. Französische Kinematographie der “Kriegshysterie”, 1915–1918


Military-Psychiatric Theater. French Cinematography of “War Hysteria”, 1915–1918. During the First World War, the use of a new form of media technology was applied within French military neuro-psychiatry: scientific cinematography. This visual technique was used to represent and produce symptoms of so-called “war hysteria”. “War hysteria” among soldiers and officers not only seemed to symbolize the weakness, inefficiency, and vulnerability of the military collective body, the corps, but challenged the borders of medical cinematography as it was considered to be able to capture ‘real’ symptoms on celluloid. By shivering and shaking, “war hysterics”, firstly, transgressed the classical image of the brave and potent warrior and, secondly, mirrored the flaws of the film technique by emphasizing its limits, twitches, and aesthetical “hysteria”. Analyzing several French medical films, it can be seen that they contain diverse dramaturgical means, just as aesthetical and narrative strategies adopted from forms in the field of illusion, including theater, ballet, cabaret, and feature film. The filmic portrayal of male “hysteria” presented both a transgression and a phantasmatic regaining of the social and military functionability of the strong masculine soldier. The theatrical film rhetoric manages to contrast the shift from the concept of “pithiatisme”, favored by the bulk of the French physicians, in the first half of what was refered to as “la Grande Guerre”, towards a “genuine”, somatic, and physiological aetiology of “war hysteria” cases since 1916.

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