The Art of Resilience: Veteran Therapy from the Occupational to the Creative 1914-1945

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores how the teaching and learning of arts and crafts not only stimulated men’s personal creativity at a time of suffering, but enabled safe reckoning with, and release from, traumatic memories, calm self- restoration, and even a degree of soft resistance to the military system, all of which supported a degree of veteran resilience. However, it is also evident that sustained resilience could not come from art therapy alone, but rather as a part of personal, emotional, and financial support, as well as an element of wider cultural appreciation of the ex-servicemen’s creativity and artisanship. To that extent cultural education about the potential impact of creativity requires wider understanding in society as a whole to destigmatise the image of the damaged veteran, in turn strengthening veterans’ resolve to actualize change in their own lives. Over-emphasizing the veteran’s agency, however, does not fully recognize structural (social, political, financial) issues regarding trauma and disability, which could also have a negative effect on the resilience of pa- tients in achieving longer-term recovery. Art therapy could be adapted to tailor to individual needs. The danger of seeing resilience as a point in time when ‘inner strength’ is accessed and mobilised is part of a historic conundrum; in the two world wars it was erroneously understood as ‘will power’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe First World War and Health
Subtitle of host publication Rethinking Resilience
EditorsLeo van Bergen, Eric Vermetten
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-42874-4
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-42417-3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameHistory of Warfare130


  • WW1
  • health
  • resilience


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