"Regeneration" by Pat Barker

Essay by iamagirl May 2006

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In the novel "Regeneration", the psychological effects of World War I imposes a huge dilemma among psychiatrist Dr. Rivers; regarding his patients. He realizes it is his

duty to give proper care to his patients, hopefully resulting in sending them back to war. Unfortunately, throughout the novel he begins to question whether or not healing his patients only to send them back to war and possibly be killed is the right thing to do.He struggles to come to a conclusion about the assumptions society holds concerning madness, and begins to wonder whether or not he himself may be mad.

This novel focuses on several war-patients who are sent to a mental facility - Craiglockhart War Hospital, where they are treated for a variety of symptoms that may

not even revolve around actual mental issues. Instead, they are symptoms of change in beliefs, fear of blood, and just simply thinking that there may be something physically wrong with themselves when there is not, like paralysis.

It is psychiatrist Dr. Rivers job along with his patients to help fight and overcome this sort of war neuroses in order to heal/be healed and return back to the war. Rivers tries to heal each patient's nerves by

encouraging them to express their memories about the war.

Throughout the process of treating each one of these patients, Dr. Rivers slowly begins to recognize changes in his beliefs about the war. The severe issues that his patients must face are beginning to take part in a sympathetic toll on him, causing him to feel shamefaced because of the amount of control and influence he possesses over his patients.