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On killing : the psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society

Author: Dave Grossman
Publisher: Boston : Little, Brown, ©1996.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st pbk. edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Dave Grossman
ISBN: 0316330116 9780316330114 0316330000 9780316330008
OCLC Number: 36544198
Notes: Originally published: 1995.
"Back Bay books."
Description: xxxiv, 366 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: Fight or flight, posture or submit --
Nonfirers throughout history --
Why can't Johnny kill? --
The nature and source of resistance --
The nature of psychiatric casualties : the psychological price of war --
The reign of fear --
The weight of exhaustion --
The mud of guilt and horror --
The wind of hate --
The well of fortitude --
The burden of killing --
The blind men and the elephant --
Distance : a qualitative distinction in death --
Killing at maximum and long range : never a need for repentance or regret --
Killing at mid- and hand-grenade range : "you can never be sure it was you" --
Killing at close range : "I knew that it was up to me, personally, to kill him" --
Killing at edged-weapons range : an "intimate brutality" --
Killing at hand-to-hand-combat range --
Killing at sexual range : "the primal aggression, the release, and orgasmic discharge" --
The demands of authority : Milgram and the military --
Group absolution : "the individual is not a killer, but the group is" --
Emotional distance : "to me they were less than animals" --
The nature of the victim : relevance and payoff --
Aggressive predisposition of the killer : avengers, conditioning, and the 2 percent who like it --
All factors considered : the mathematics of death --
The full spectrum of atrocity --
The dark power of atrocity --
The entrapment of atrocity --
A case study in atrocity --
The greatest trap of all : to live with that which thou hath wrought --
The killing response stages --
Applications of the model : murder-suicides, lost elections, and thoughts of insanity --
Desensitization and conditioning in Vietnam : overcoming the resistance to killing --
What have we done to our soldiers? : the rationalization of killing and how it failed in Vietnam --
Post-traumatic stress disorder and the cost of killing in Vietnam --
The limits of human endurance and the lessons of Vietnam --
A virus of violence --
Desensitization and Pavlov's dog at the movies --
B.F. Skinner's rats and operant conditioning at the video arcade --
Social learning and role models in the media --
The resensitization of America.
Responsibility: Dave Grossman.

Abstract:

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Grossman's controversial thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder, especially among the young. This book is an important study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.

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