War causes trauma, death, satire

This week’s edition of satirical newspaper The Onion has a cutting ‘news’ story on both the Iraq war and psychology, highlighting the absurdity that arises from trying to quantify the bleedin’ obvious and discussing the shortcomings of the study in the press.

The story supposedly concerns a study investigating the psychological impact of the Iraq war on civillians.

“Almost all the Iraqis we interviewed said the war had ruined their lives because of the incalculable loss of friends and family,” Pryztal said. “But to be totally honest, these types of studies can be skewed rather easily by participant exaggeration.”

Psychologists and anthropologists have thus far largely discounted the study, claiming it has the same bias as a 1971 Stanford University study that concluded that many Vietnamese showed signs of psychological trauma from nearly a quarter century of continuous war in southeast Asia.

“We are, in truth, still a long way from determining if Iraqis are exhibiting actual, U.S.-grade sadness,” Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist Norman Blum said. “At present, we see no reason for the popular press to report on Iraqi emotions as if they are real.”

Pryztal said that his research group would next examine whether children in Sudan prefer playing with toys or serving as guerrilla fighters and killing innocent civilians.

The Onion has a long and proud history of satirising psychology and psychologists, inspiring stories that are often as funny as they are painful.

Link to story ‘Iraqis May Experience Sadness When Friends, Relatives Die’.

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