'A Study on the Social Causes of Insanity' How Appropriate Do You Find this Statement as a Comment on Streetcar Named Desire and Regeneration?

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‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Regeneration’ both present studies of insanity that stem from social pressures on characters. Insanity is defined as a “state of being unsound in mind” and “applicable to any degree of mental derangement from slight delirium or wandering to distraction”. Throughout the texts, we do see characters with ‘unsound minds’, ‘mental derangement’ who appear utterly distracted or delirious. The massive social cause of this insanity for the characters in ‘Regeneration’ is The Great War of 1914-1918. The soldiers are being treated for shellshock at Craiglockhart. Their ‘unsound minds’ being the result of shell shock from the trauma of trench warfare, knowing that once they get better they will be sent back out to the front line to endure it all again. ‘Unsound minds’ are the conditions with which Rivers, the doctor treating these insane soldiers, in Barker’s ’Regeneration’, concerns himself. He knows that the young men from the Great War, brought to Craiglockhart, are the result of being constantly bombarded by shells, whilst sitting in a rat-infested trench that is knee deep in churned mud and rain water, drenching feet and uniform, knowing that if they are ordered ‘to go over the top’, through ‘No Man’s Land’ imminent death will probably result. Rivers knows, therefore, that there is a social cause for the insanity manifest in the young soldiers brought back form the trenches. Moreover, there is the double-edged sword that if he can help heal their mind, they will return to face further conflict. Barker explores the study of Rivers’ therapy with the insane and helps us see that the War itself is the culprit. The same symptoms of insanity described in ‘Regeneration’ amongst the soldiers, are seen in t...

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... he tried to eat, the taste and smell recurred’. In contrast, Blanche has problems with her shakes and reliving the internalisation of the “war” in her mind. ‘She sits down shakily, taking a grateful drink’

Works Cited

What’s in a Name?” A Brief Foray into the History of Insanity in England and the United States, Janet A. Tighe, PhD,
Donald Pease, Tennessee Williams: A Tribute, p840

Debbie Swan, An Unexpected Message from Our Past,

The White Feather Campaign: A Struggle with Masculinity During World War I, Peter J. Hart, Student Pulse (2010, Vol. 2 NO.)

Macro History and the World Timeline,
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