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Aberration of MindSuicide and Suffering in the Civil War-Era South$
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Diane Miller Sommerville

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643304

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643304.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Aberration of Mind

Diane Miller Sommerville

University of North Carolina Press

Lays out blueprint for the book by outlining methodological approaches, evidence base, and historiographical interventions (including ‘dark turn’ in Civil War scholarship) of a study on suicide and suffering during and after the Civil War in the American South. Identifies evidentiary challenges including poor record keeping, attempts to hide suicides, elusiveness of cause or motivation, and gender bias in lethal suicides. Case studies emphasize experiences of individuals, transcending well-trodden theological and cultural discourse about suicide. Examines impact of war traumas like PTSD on soldiers and veterans, and on their wives and families. Racialized ideas about suicide and depression shaped southerners’ understanding of suffering, held by whites to be a marker of civilized peoples.

Keywords:   suffering, suicide, gender, Civil War, PTSD, war trauma, dark turn, American South, methodology

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