War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

War: Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

Excerpt

In the popular view, psychology is a body of knowledge the central concern of which is the welfare of man. It should follow from this that psychologists have a great deal to say about a phenomenon such as war, which has negative effects on this welfare. Such, however, is not the case. What the psychologist says about war in comparison with what he says about many other less important phenomena is brief. Happily, this brevity has not been related to triviality; the relatively small collection of ideas from psychology concerning war is vitally important. Despite this, however, it is important to recognize why this contribution has been small, for it relates to some important aspects of psychology as a discipline. First, it should be recognized that psychology as an independent discipline is a product of the twentieth century. Psychological conceptions previous to that time had been part of philosophy and physiology. One of the concerns of youth is always the definition of identity, and psychology as a formal academic discipline has spent a major portion of its energies in defining its own subject matter. Properly speaking, psychology consists of the study of motivation, perception, and learning. Obviously this is quite different from the popular conception. Recently, when psychology came into its own as a discipline not only with a past but with a formal history, the definitions of the kinds of problems it could properly investigate and the kinds of people who could be considered psychologists became broader. At one time, for example, psychoanalysis and its practitioners were considered beyond the purview of the discipline. Presently psychoanalytic theory is seen not only as a practice but also as a fruitful source from which hypotheses for research may be derived. Thus the brevity of psychology's contribution to war is the result of the evolution of a discipline which began by rigorously limiting its scope and then proceeded to make that scope more inclusive.

In recent years the social psychologist in particular has had a great deal to say about the military establishment and its organization, the soldier and his morale or lack of it, and the intricacies of small group behavior as seen in the infantry squad or the bomber crew. Obviously these investigations relate to the problem of war; however, it is not within the scope of this particular collection to review the thinking of the social scientist as he investigates the problems of . . .

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