Thomas Probert’s article on Psychiatric casualties and the British counter-insurgency in Malaya

Recently graduated PhD student and now Visiting Fellow in the Department Dr. Thomas Probert published an article on Psychiatric casualties and the British counter-insurgency in Malaya in The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History in June 2021. 

The psychiatric cost of Britain’s post-war counter-insurgency campaigns have gone largely un-investigated. Focusing on the Malayan Emergency, this article will show that counter-insurgency operations were sufficiently intense to produce what were conceptualised as cases of mild psychoneurosis. These conditions were managed using convalescence and simple psychotherapy. Managing these conditions in this way risked leaving more serious conditions untreated and meant recorded cases of psychoneurosis were kept artificially low. That the stresses of the counter-insurgency in Malaya were reproduced elsewhere suggests there was a wider psychiatric cost of Britain’s post-war period of decolonisation.

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