Humanistic Perspectives in Medical Ethics

By Maurice B. Visscher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
BEYOND ATROCITY

A PERSONAL PSYCHIATRIC VIEW

Robert Jay Lifton

* Introduction to Crimes of War, co-edited by Richard Falk , Gabriel Kolko, and Robert Jay Lifton

The landscape doesn't change much. For days and days you see just about nothing. It's unfamiliar--always unfamiliar. Even when you go back to the same place, it's unfamiliar. And it makes you feel as though, well, there's nothing left in the world but this. . . . You have the illusion of going great distances and traveling, like hundreds of miles. . . . and you end up in the same place because you're only a couple of miles away. . . . But you feel like it's not all real. It couldn't possibly be. We couldn't still be in this country. We've been walking for days . . . You're in Vietnam and they're using real bullets . . . Here in Vietnam they're actually shooting people for no reason . . . Any other time you think, it's such an extreme. Here you can go ahead and shoot them for nothing. . . . As a matter of fact it's even . . . smiled upon, you know. Good for you. Everything is backwards. That's part of the kind of unreality of the thing. To the "grunt" [infantryman] this

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