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Self-help for your nerves: popular understandings of stress in the twentieth century

A Centre for Medical History seminar
Speaker(s)Dr Jill Kirby (University of Sussex)
Date16 October 2014
Time13:00 to 15:00
PlaceAmory A115

In this paper Dr Jill Kirby will discuss the use of self-help books published in Britain during the twentieth century, as a source for understanding popular conceptions of stress, and its forerunners ‘nerves’ and ‘nervous conditions.’  Drawing on a sample of 50 self-help books, Jill will argue that they offer an insight into changing notions of causation, but also significant continuities in approaches to treatment.  In the light of the current Wellcome funded ‘Lifestyle, Health and Disease: concepts of balance in modern medicine’ research project at Exeter, Jill will highlight the ways in which this concept contributes to popular understanding and informs some of the ideas about treatment.

Jill completed her PhD 'Troubled by life: the experience of stress in twentieth-century Britain' in 2014. She is currently working as a lecturer for several HE and FE institutions including the University of Sussex, University of Chichester and Central Sussex Further Education College.  She returned to academic study after a successful management career in Corporate Communications in a wide variety of organisations ranging from the Metropolitan Police to Lloyds TSB. 

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