Obscuring the horror of war

A sardonic paragraph from Lt Col Dave Grossman’s excellent book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. It discusses the psychology of ending another’s life, the history of how the military have dealt with the natural reluctance to kill and the personal impact of doing so.

From p36:

Even among the psychological and psychiatric literature on war, “there is”, writes Marin, “a kind of madness at work.” He notes, “Repugnance toward killing and the refusal to kill” are referred to as “acute combat reaction.” And psychological trauma resulting from “slaughter and atrocity are called ‘stress,’ as if the clinicians… are talking about an executive’s overwork.” As a psychologist I believe that Marin is quite correct when he observes, “Nowhere in the [psychiatric and psychological] literature is one allowed to glimpse what is actually occurring: the real horror of war and its effect on those who fought it.”

Link to more info on the book.

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