Elton Mayo and Thomas Henry Reeve Mathewson: the forgotten Australian pioneers of the treatment of patients with shell shock, neurasthenia and nervous breakdown

Avi Ohry*, Mandy Matthewson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The contributions of Australians on shell shock are absent from the literature. However, two Australians were pioneers in the treatment of shell shock: George Elton Mayo (1880–1949) and Dr Thomas Henry Reeve Mathewson (1881–1975). They used psychoanalytic approaches to treat psychiatric patients and introduced the psychoanalytic treatment of people who suffered from shell shock. Their ‘talking cure’ was highly successful and challenged the view that shell shock only occurred in men who were malingering and/or lacking in fortitude. Their work demonstrated that people experiencing mental illness could be treated in the community at a time when they were routinely treated as inpatients. It also exemplified the substantial benefits of combining science with clinical knowledge and skill in psychology and psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalHistory of Psychiatry
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Funding

FundersFunder number
Andrew Mathewson

    Keywords

    • Australia
    • Elton Mayo
    • Thomas Mathewson
    • neurasthenia
    • shell shock

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