16th Oct 2013 5:00pm-7:00pm
This paper focuses on amputation; one of the most physically traumatic experiences of war; the empty sleeve or trouser leg a permanent reminder of the war’s legacy. In addition to the issues raised from the fear of being a social and economic outcast, being unable to walk and the aesthetics surrounding an amputated limb’s appearance were also of concern to the wounded man. Indeed, the body became the nexus of trauma on which were played out in discourses of fears surrounding an appropriate level of healing and an inability to be able to return to ‘normal’, once the long course of rehabilitation had finished. The process of healing and then fitting the stump was all part of the regime to return men to their civilian lives. The centrality of the maintenance of a healthy stump in order to move out of the hospital environment ensured that the stump remained a focus of the amputee soldier, their family, the doctor and limb fitter. However, the emotional feelings associated with the renegotiation of the men’s altered conception of themselves and their transformed bodies were believed to bring on conditions such as ‘jumpy stump’, as a manifestation of repressed trauma. This paper will explore the myriad of ways that the stump gained an identity of its own through internal and external constructs, how that identity manifested itself in the condition and indeed how the condition called ‘jumpy stump’ was understood and controlled.
Dr Julie Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in the History of Modern Medicine at the University of Kent. Her research interests cover the history of medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. She is particularly interested in the cultural and social history of physical disabilities and blindness.