Ran Zwigenberg

Nov 27, 2023

Nuclear Minds

Cold War Psychological Science and the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

University of Chicago Press 2023

Ran Zwigenberg’s Nuclear Minds: Cold War Psychological Science and the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (U Chicago Press, 2023) explores early efforts by the American military, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social scientists to understand the effects of the atomic bombings on the minds of those who had survived. In positioning the book as “a prehistory of PTSD,” Zwigenberg draws attention to the historicity of the idea of psychological “trauma” before the concept was institutionalized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980. 

Nuclear Minds shows that the ideological temperament of Cold War science and the gendered nature of scientific knowledge production versus psychological care were among the factors that led scientists and researchers to minimize, deny, or simply not register as meaningful the suffering of survivors, but also that without the concept of “trauma” as we use it now (or even the category of “survivor”) the experience of the affected did not always cleanly conform to our contemporary expectations.

Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.

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Nathan Hopson

Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.

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