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"Psychological Effects of Combat"

Conclusion: A Cultural Conspiracy

It is essential to acknowledge that good ends have been and will continue to be accomplished through combat. Many democracies owe their very existence to successful combat. Few individuals will deny the need for combat against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And around the world the price of civilization is paid every day by military units on peacekeeping operations and domestic police forces who are forced to engage in close combat. There have been and will continue to be times and places where combat is unavoidable, but when a society requires its police and armed forces to participate in combat it is essential to fully comprehend the magnitude of the inevitable psychological toll.

It is often said that "All's fair in love and war," and this expression provides a valuable insight into the human psyche, since these twin, taboo fields of sexuality and aggression represent the two realms in which most individuals will consistently deceive both themselves and others. Our psychological and societal inability to confront the truth about the effects of combat is the foundation for the cultural conspiracy of repression, a deception and denial that has helped to perpetuate and propagate war throughout recorded history.

In the field of developmental psychology, a mature adult is sometimes defined as someone who has attained a degree of insight and self-control in the two areas of sexuality and aggression. This is also a useful definition of maturity in civilizations. Thus, two important and reassuring trends in recent years have been the development of the science of human sexuality, which has been termed "sexology," and a parallel development of the science of human aggression, which D. Grossman has termed "killology." There is a universal consensus that continued research in this previously taboo realm of human aggression is vital to the future development, and perhaps to the very existence, of our civilization.

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Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, Volume 3, p.159
© 1999 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.


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