Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing

By Rachel M. MacNair | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Social Implications

SOCIOLOGY

A guidebook to the official American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual says: “It is noteworthy that once Posttraumatic Stress Disorder occurs, its symptom pattern is remarkably uniform regardless of the individual's previous psychological history or cultural background” (Frances, First, & Pincus, 1995, p. 258). If the symptom pattern is consistent regardless of varying cultural circumstances, and if the extreme traumas that cause this symptom pattern are ones that occur throughout human history in different cultures, then human communities must have come up with adaptive mechanisms and group responses to this phenomenon. Accepting the dimension of perpetration as a trauma adds to this understanding, since it has also been common across varying cultures.

Studies of various ethnocultural groups would be necessary to ascertain the extent to which PTSD in general and PITS in particular is a culture-bound concept or is useful cross-culturally. The most comprehensive work on this is a volume entitled Ethnocultural Aspects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Marsella et al., 1996). This work shows that PTSD has been diagnosed in a wide variety of cultures worldwide, from Southeast Asian refugees to Latin American disaster survivors to Navajo and Sioux veterans. The authors were unaware of any ethnocultural cohort in which it was absent, though of course prevalence rates and symptom patterns did vary. The idea of perpetration as a causal trauma mechanism, however, is not considered; such additional consideration could greatly improve cross-cultural studies.

Different understandings of social realities can be expected to provide vari-

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Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vi
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress 1
  • References 12
  • Chapter 2 - Combat Veterans 13
  • Chapter 3 - Executioners 31
  • Chapter 4 - A Historical Case: the Nazis 45
  • Chapter 5 - Both Sides of Law Enforcement 57
  • Chapter 6 - Is It Violence?: Abortion Practitioners 71
  • Chapter 7 - Other Groups to Study 83
  • Chapter 8 - Implications for Psychology 91
  • Chapter 9 - Social Implications 109
  • References 125
  • Chapter 10 - Research Agenda 127
  • Chapter 11 - Technical Aspects of Research 147
  • Chapter 12 - Conclusion 161
  • Appendix - Statistics from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study 173
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 199
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