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Goldsmiths - University of London

Shocks (To the System)

Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. Shocks (To the System). In: "SHOCKS (TO THE SYSTEM)", Craiglockhart Campus, Napier, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 18 November 2018. [Performance]

Item Type:

Creators: Furse, Anna F. D.
Abstract or Description:

SHOCKS (TO THE SYSTEM) (or Dulce et Decorum 1 ) 2018 is a new live PERFORMANCE INSTALLATION
project, created and directed by ANNA FURSE for and with staff and students of Edinburgh Napier
University, together with musician/composer David Coulter (, and actor
Jack Klaff. It is produced by Lynnette Moran (Live Collision: for
Athletes of the Heart (

SHOCKS (TO THE SYSTEM) starts from the perspective that shellshock is in essence a form of male
hysteria, a psychophysical response to trauma in which the body produces reaction and symptom without
organic base. Hysteric symptoms were, according to Freud, evidence of unsuccessful repression: in the case
of males returning from the horror of the trenches, thus the inability to repress the trauma of what they
suffered and witnessed. Elaine Showalter argues that this form of male hysteria is a form of protest – against
being warriors – and she has written provocatively and controversially about similar cases in the Gulf War
when veterans would return with inexplicable lesions, rashes and other physical signs. In fact, the whole
idea of male hysteria is provocative. The condition is associated with femininity rather than masculinity,
women who, as Freud at first argued and then disavowed, have typically suffered from sexual abuse. The
point about hysteria is that it is a condition in which the body speaks distress that cannot be uttered in its
own semaphore, a language written-on- the-body 3 . What is remarkable in the war poets, is that they were
able to write poems about what they saw, in short, were able to voice their rage and distress, yet still
suffered from mental illness in response to the war. One might argue that this was connected to the pressure
to uphold the whole ideology of military heroism, in the face of, and despite, the atrocity of war.
The project will be researched and developed in consultation with medical experts working with PTS and
with former military with first-hand experience of the condition.

SHOCKS (TO THE SYSTEM) will be sited at Craiglockhart campus, formerly an asylum renowned for
treating patients with ‘shell-shock’ in WW1, the most famous being the poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried

Official URL:
Keywords: Shell-shock, hysteria, WW1, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Trenches, PTSD, Craiglockhart, Asylum
Departments, Centres and Research Units: History > Centre of the Body (COB)
Theatre and Performance (TAP)
Date range: 18 November 2018
Event Location: Craiglockhart Campus, Napier, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Item ID: 22537
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2017 15:17
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 12:35


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