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"Psychological Effects of Combat"

By Dave Grossman and Bruce K. Siddle
Academic Press, 2000

The psychological effect of combat is a concept which encompasses a wide variety of processes and negative impacts, all of which must be taken into consideration in any assessment of the immediate and long term costs of war. This entry will address the wide-spectrum psychological effects of combat, to include: psychiatric casualties suffered during combat, physiological arousal and fear, the physiology of close combat, the price of killing, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Introduction: A Legacy of honor the memory of the fallen and rationalize their deaths....
  • Psychiatric Casualties in War..........A psychiatric casualty is a combatant who is no longer able to participate in combat due to mental (as opposed to physical) debilitation.
  • Physiological Arousal and Fear..........The impact of fear and its attendant physiological arousal is significant, but it must be understood that fear is just a symptom and not the disease, it is an effect but not the cause.
  • The Trauma of Close-Range, Interpersonal Aggression..........The impact of fear, physiological arousal, horror, and physical deprivation in combat should never be underestimated....
  • The Physiology of Close Combat..........An understanding of the stress of close combat begins with an understanding of the physiological response to close-range interpersonal aggression.
  • A Resistance to Killing..........The existence of a resistance to killing lies at the heart of this dichotomy between killers and nonkillers.
  • Overcoming the Resistance to Killing..........Throughout history the ingredients of groups, leadership, and distance have been manipulated to enable and force combatants to kill, but the introduction of conditioning in modern training was a true revolution.
  • The Price of Overcoming the Resistance to Killing..........Conditioning that overrides such a powerful, innate resistance carries with it enormous potential for psychological backlash
  • Conclusion: A Cultural Conspiracy..........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.
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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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