University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Pathologies of War: The Medical Model of the German and Japanese Enemy in World War II

Toon, Wendy ORCID: (2016) Pathologies of War: The Medical Model of the German and Japanese Enemy in World War II. In: Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts Research Seminar, 4 May 2016, University of Worcester. (Unpublished)

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This paper considers one aspect of my wider comparative analysis of expert American wartime assessments which examines how the US government created representations of the German and Japanese enemies, with particular emphasis on the “pathologies” of Japanese and German culture, mind, and nature. This approach is premised on a key interpretive framework that shaped the American approach to both the German and Japanese enemy and the postwar world: the medical model of diagnosis, prognosis, and cure. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt argued in his 6 January 1942 State of the Union address: ‘We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills.’ In response to the seemingly unfathomable “diseases” of Nazism and Ultranationalism in the case of Japan, concerned parties arrived at the unexpected conclusion that nations could be analyzed on the same basis as individuals. This “knowledge elite’s” efforts led to a focus on three fundamental aspects when seeking a diagnosis:
1. culture (in this context, the search for common aspects that would characterize differing peoples by their cultures),
2. mind (meaning an understanding of the “mentality” of the enemy), and
3. nature (meaning the search for inborn or inherent qualities that would provide the explanation).
This model not only provides coherence for the purpose of analysis, but also cements my position that the key interpretation of the German and Japanese “problems” was that they were diseased. The symptoms of the German and Japanese diseases were as follows: paranoia, neurosis, aggression, an inferiority complex, dualism, repression, megalomania, compulsive behavior, sado-masochism, conformity and automation. In spite of the fact that Japan and Germany were very different countries, the proponents of the medical model viewed them as comparable cases. The medical model made the “problem” of Germany and Japan understandable through a series of processes. First, the enemy was characterized as diseased and a diagnosis regarding the causes of this disease was advanced. Second, a prognosis and proposed treatment was provided; and finally, a cure was planned.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Wendy Toon
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2022 15:25
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2022 08:55

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