The Painful Field: The Psychiatric Dimension of Modern War

The Painful Field: The Psychiatric Dimension of Modern War

The Painful Field: The Psychiatric Dimension of Modern War

The Painful Field: The Psychiatric Dimension of Modern War

Synopsis

Tables Introduction War and Madness in History The Limits of Human Endurance The Face of Modern War Development of Soviet Military Psychiatry Soviet Battlefield Psychiatry Development of American Military Psychiatry American Battlefield Psychiatry The Future of Military Psychiatry Bibliographic Essay Index

Excerpt

Surveying the extant literature dealing with war, one cannot but be struck by the lack of studies on the psychiatric dimension of warfare. To be sure, there are a number of works on the psychology of war, works that tend to focus on the larger question of why men fight. Whenever military establishments have addressed the psychology of war, their analyses have stressed such things as morale and discipline. Indeed, it seems an unproven axiom of armies that soldiers who have high morale and strong discipline will almost always carry the day on the battlefield. The few books and articles on the psychiatry of war are overwhelmingly clinical in orientation, no doubt because military psychiatrists write these reports and tend to minimize or even ignore the larger human questions that are necessarily involved. What is clearly needed is a book that addresses the psychiatric dimension of war in the larger and more important context of whether men can continue to plan and fight wars while remaining truly human.

Armies all over the world, no doubt with the support of their political leadership and the unquestioning adherence of their civilian populations, continue to propagate a number of myths about their soldiers' ability to wage war and remain sane. In contrast to nuclear war, most civilians regard conventional war as little different from World War II. Moreover, .the belief persists that soldiers can learn to withstand the stresses of battle; that with a few weeks of training most civilians can make sound and sane fighting men. Finally, the saddest myth of all is that only the weak or cowardly will break under the strain imposed by the horror of modern conventional combat. Media establishments in both the United States and the Soviet Union, one government-controlled the other uncontrolled, sustain these myths with television screenplays and motion pictures in which heroes always triumph over fear. Psychiatric collapse is at most portrayed only occasionally and then almost always as a rare and temporary occur-

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