Men gathered around an instructor in the art department at Mill Hill Emergency Hospital

13 Aug 1940
Mill Hill Emergency Hospital, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, Barnet, Greater London Authority
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Mill Hill School, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, Barnet, Greater London Authority, NW7
Mill Hill School, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, Barnet, Greater London Authority, NW7
Photograph (Print)
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The original caption may contain language which is historic and which may no longer be considered appropriate. It has been retained in the record in the interest of historical accuracy.

The caption on the reverse of the photograph reads: “Treatment of Effort Syndrome (in a Middlesex emergency hospital). Picture shows patients in the art school receiving tuition from Mr. F. G. Martin, the art instructor.”

Effort Syndrome was described during the American Civil War and later by Da Costa in 1871, and was thereafter also known as Da Costa’s syndrome. The condition presents symptoms including shortness of breath, palpitations, fatigue, and dizziness – namely symptoms which limit a patient’s “capacity for effort”. These may be perceived as a heart disorder, but there is no physiological evidence of heart disease; those suffering from Da Costa’s syndrome were sometimes diagnosed with one of a large group of disorders including rheumatic carditis, anaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, influenza, and pleurisy. During the First World War, approximately 60,000 cases of “effort syndrome” were reported amongst British Forces. Treatment varied: some prescribed complete bed rest, while others argued that hospital stays should be kept short, as these were seen as redundant or even harmful due to the lack of discipline and its effect on a soldier’s morale. Switching to lighter responsibilities and occupational therapy was also recommended, and physical fitness was promoted through drills and games. Now, Da Costa’s syndrome is considered to be a manifestation of an anxiety disorder, and treatment is largely behavioural. See also MED01/01/0889 and MED01/01/0891-0900. High-resolution copies of this image are available for free for non-commercial use. Please Enquire to place an order.


This is part of the Series: MED01/01 Series of prints; within the Collection: MED01 The Medical Collection


Source: Historic England Archive

People & Organisations

Photographer: Topical Press Agency Limited

Photographer: Harrison, Norman Kingsley


Auxiliary Hospital, Occupational Therapy Unit, Psychiatric Hospital, Art And Design, Education, Health And Welfare, Second World War