The Psychology of War

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In today’s world, there exists one question which many continue to seek an answer to and that is why do people do what they do? What has been discovered in the field of psychology throughout the last century as well as the theoretical concepts which have been developed and written down in various places, in some way or another, have closed the gap which exists between humankind and the answer to such a question. However, it is more than likely that an accurate explanation to the query mentioned above will never be discovered and as a result, the closest that one can come to it is through the study of the behaviors and mental processes that are generated by the human mind. In the case of this essay, it is my objective to discover what behaviors and mental processes are experienced by a soldier at war, who must cope with the fact that he may die at any moment and may be required to take another human’s life. The Things They Carried is a novel written by Tim O’Brien and follows the life of First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross as he overcomes the numerous obstacles throughout his tour during the Vietnam War. As the young officer carries on with speaking of the adventures that he experiences along with the other men in his platoon, one can notice certain changes involving his way of thinking and his behavior, which can in fact be described using theoretical concepts developed in psychology. Ergo, these concepts will then be defined and an explanation will be given as to why and how they relate to such events. In the end, a better understanding will be obtained with regards to why Lieutenant Cross did the things he did and perhaps “get into his head” in order to understand what he was experiencing. In other words, this is an attempt to comprehend the psychology associated with soldiers at war in order to better understand certain things which I may myself experience as a future infantry officer in the Canadian Forces.

The first theoretical concept which I will discuss is...
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