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This is a discursive exploration of conceptual developments in law and medicine in England and Australia over 200 years, refracted through the prism of psychiatric injury and its legal sequelae.
The book begins with an exposition of the history of liability for negligently occasioned harm, and examines social and medical factors which militated against admittance of psychic harm as a separate head of compensation. It then traces the evolution of liability for nervous shock, from its beginnings in Melbourne in 1886 to some reported and unreported cases in England and Australia in 1997.
The cases are analyzed against the background of developments that were taking place in medical science and psychiatry. There is an outline of the original medical literature describing severe, often disabling reactions to life-threatening events which involve either minimal or no actual physical contact with the sufferer's body, and the scientific endeavours to explain this phenomenon.
The tort of negligence and the evolution of its constituent elements are analyzed from the perspective of major developments in physiology, neuroanatomy, psychoanalysis and psychiatry.