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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:   Book : English : 1st pbk. edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"The twentieth century, with its bloody world wars, revolutions, and genocides accounting for hundreds of millions dead, would seem to prove that human beings are incredibly vicious predators and that killing is as natural as eating. But Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a psychologist and U.S. Army Ranger, demonstrates this is not the case. The good news, according to Grossman - drawing on dozens of interviews,  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 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Contents: pt. 1. Killing and the existence of resistance : a world of virgins studying sex. Fight or flight, posture or submit --
Nonfirers throughout history --
Why can't Johnny kill? --
The nature and source of resistance --
pt. 2. Killing and combat trauma : the role of killing in psychiatric casualties. 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 --
pt. 3. Killing and physical distance : from a distance, you don't look anything like a friend. 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" --
pt. 4. An anatomy of killing : all factors considered. 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 --
pt. 5. Killing and atrocities : "no honor here, no virtue". 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 --
pt. 6. The killing response stages : what does it feel like to kill? The killing response stages --
Applications of the model : murder-suicides, lost elections, and thoughts of insanity --
pt. 7. Killing in Vietnam : what have we done to our soldiers? 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 --
pt. 8. Killing in America : what are we doing to our children? 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 twentieth century, with its bloody world wars, revolutions, and genocides accounting for hundreds of millions dead, would seem to prove that human beings are incredibly vicious predators and that killing is as natural as eating. But Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a psychologist and U.S. Army Ranger, demonstrates this is not the case. The good news, according to Grossman - drawing on dozens of interviews, first-person reports, and historic studies of combat, ranging from Frederick the Great's battles in the eighteenth century through Vietnam - is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill. In World War II, for instance, only 15 to 25 percent of combat infantry were willing to fire their rifles. The provocative news is that modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have learned how to overcome this reluctance. In Korea about 50 percent of combat infantry were willing to shoot, and in Vietnam the figure rose to over 90 percent. The bad news is that by conditioning soldiers to overcome their instinctive loathing of killing, we have drastically increased post-combat stress - witness the devastated psychological state of our Vietnam vets as compared with those from earlier wars. And the truly terrible news is that contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and - according to Grossman's controversial thesis - is responsible for our rising rates of murder and violence, particularly among the young. In the explosive last section of the book, he argues that high-body-count movies, television violence (both news and entertainment), and interactive point-and-shoot video games are dangerously similar to the training programs that dehumanize the enemy, desensitize soldiers to the psychological ramifications of killing, and make pulling the trigger an automatic response."--Book jacket.

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schema:reviewBody""The twentieth century, with its bloody world wars, revolutions, and genocides accounting for hundreds of millions dead, would seem to prove that human beings are incredibly vicious predators and that killing is as natural as eating. But Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a psychologist and U.S. Army Ranger, demonstrates this is not the case. The good news, according to Grossman - drawing on dozens of interviews, first-person reports, and historic studies of combat, ranging from Frederick the Great's battles in the eighteenth century through Vietnam - is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill. In World War II, for instance, only 15 to 25 percent of combat infantry were willing to fire their rifles. The provocative news is that modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have learned how to overcome this reluctance. In Korea about 50 percent of combat infantry were willing to shoot, and in Vietnam the figure rose to over 90 percent. The bad news is that by conditioning soldiers to overcome their instinctive loathing of killing, we have drastically increased post-combat stress - witness the devastated psychological state of our Vietnam vets as compared with those from earlier wars. And the truly terrible news is that contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and - according to Grossman's controversial thesis - is responsible for our rising rates of murder and violence, particularly among the young. In the explosive last section of the book, he argues that high-body-count movies, television violence (both news and entertainment), and interactive point-and-shoot video games are dangerously similar to the training programs that dehumanize the enemy, desensitize soldiers to the psychological ramifications of killing, and make pulling the trigger an automatic response."--Book jacket."
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