The presentation deals with the family violence of returnee soldiers from the First World War, relating to soldiers who suffered from mental illness during the war and were hospitalized at the Stenjevec Psychiatric Hospital and at the Psychiatric ward of the Royal Public Hospital in Pakrac. The paper deals with the first years of the post-war period, since the violence of soldiers committed on their family members, particularly on wives, was the most frequent then. It should be noted, however, that the violence was characteristic also for later periods, but it was rather poorly documented. Taking into account that patients of the psychiatric institutions at hand were largely inhabitants of rural areas of continental Croatia, the chosen topic will be considered in the context of the socioeconomic circumstances in those regions. In addition, it will relate to the influence of patriarchal culture within the family and the broader environment. It should be mentioned that the data collected so far have shown that soldiers with mental disorders often physically and mentally abused their wives; however, their violent behaviour was also recorded in relation to other family members. Also, it has become apparent that women in some cases, due to the long-term exposure to various forms of violence by their mentally ill spouses, developed symptoms of the mental disorder as well. The presentation is based on the analysis of the psychiatric history of the disease of male and female patients, medical records associated with previous treatment of patients in general hospitals, and on the consideration of other private documents, e.g. personal letters.

About the author

Jelena Seferović graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb in 2007. She received her PhD in July 2017 at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb with the topic Constructions of gender identity among female residents in homes for adults with mental illness. In 2014 she completed two years of education in Art Expressive Psychotherapy and since 2015 she has been in Gestalt psychotherapy education. She dedicates her studies to (non)institutional everyday life of people with mental disorders in Croatia of the 19th century and up to World War II. She has been researching anthropological analyses of activities and homes for mentally ill adults, the phenomenon of fear in the psychiatric history and the work of the Neuropsychiatric Hospital Dr. Ivan Barbot Popovača during NDH.

She collaborates on the EIRENE project.