PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF COMBAT
Psychology at the beginning of the twenty-ﬁrst century has become a highly diverse ﬁeld of scientiﬁc study and applied technology. The pursuits of behavioral scientists range from the natural sciences to the social sciences and embrace a wide variety of objects of investigation. As a subject of psychology, the psychological phenomenon is also called as mental activity, which falls in the domain of human mentality. It reveals the basic laws on the mentality of an ordinary man such as cognitive, emotion, will and personality and individual psychology. The field can encompass every aspect of the human mind that interests the military, but researchers focus on the psychology of military organization, military life, and the psychology of combat.
Military life places unique stresses on individuals and their families. Aside from the possibility of being wounded or killed in combat, military service often involves long hours of work, extended absences from home, and frequent transfer across the globe. Most soldiers never experience combat; but for those who do, a lifetime of learning about the rules of society and morality must be suppressed in the interests of survival. Hence, the study of the emotional aspects of combat by military psychologists.
Early military psychologists suspected that Combat Stress Reaction (CRS)-a progressive psychological breakdown in response to combat-was a matter of psychological "weakness." Today, most agree that any human being will break down if exposed for long enough to enough death, fear, and violence. Some soldiers who have experienced battle-as well as some victims of disasters or violent crime-suffer from a lingering version of CSR called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person with PTSD may chronically re-experience traumatic events, in nightmares or even in waking hallucinations. Other PTSD sufferers "close up," refusing to confront their emotional trauma but expressing it in substance abuse, depression, or chronic unemployment. PTSD has proved possible but difficult to treat successfully-hence the military's focus on preventing PTSD through proper CSR treatment. During and after every war this nation has fought, members of its armed forces have suffered ill effects from combat-related stress, and the Persian Gulf War, the Vietnam War are no exception.
The purpose of this paper is to explain the psychological and physiological consequences of combat and also highlight its effects on the individual and the society as a whole.
The paper will look at the broader view of the psychological effects of combat. It will also review some conflicts of the past in order to emphasize the tremendous lack of understanding about the nature and power of combat stresses (psychosocial, traumatic, and environmental) which still persists today, despite the massive amount of data and work done to elucidate the cause and effect of these stresses in this century.
An Overview of Psychological Effects of Combat
An examination of the psychological effects of combat must begin by acknowledging that there are some positive aspects to combat. Throughout recorded history these positive aspects have been emphasized and exaggerated in order to protect the self-image of combatants, to honor the memory of the fallen and rationalize their deaths, to aggrandize and glorify political leaders and military commanders, and to manipulate populations into supporting war and sending their sons to their deaths.
This psychological cost of war is most readily observable and measurable at the individual level. At the national level, a country at war can anticipate a small--but statistically significant--increase in the domestic murder rate, probably due to the glorification of violence and the resultant reduction in the level of repression of natural aggressive instincts which Freud held to be...
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