Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing

By Rachel M. MacNair | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Combat Veterans

KILLING AS STRESSOR

Peace activist Jane Addams (Johnson, 1960) described symptoms of PTSD during World War I and ascribed the symptoms to the act of killing. In addition, there were a few early scholarly articles noting the distinction between passive victimization and active causing of the trauma before the American Psychiatric Association published the term and diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-III in 1980.

Haley (1974) and Shatan (1978) separately pointed out that when the patient reports atrocities, therapists have more trouble listening. This could, of course, make patients less likely to report such events. If so, gaining knowledge of the psychological aftereffects of participating could be impaired.

Strayer and Ellenhorn (1975) found that participation in atrocities brought more symptoms in terms of withdrawal, hostility, and life-outcome maladjustment. Introversion accentuated the problems, but those with the authoritarian personality had the opposite reaction and had good life-outcome adjustment. Whether the latter finding has any validity in other samples has not been pursued.

Breslau and Davis (1987) commented that participation in atrocities and the cumulative exposure to combat stressors, each independently of the other, conferred a significant risk for PTSD. Hendin and Haas (1984) make a similar case, but from the opposite direction. They say, “we will discuss our study of combat veterans who have not developed posttraumatic stress. It is significant that none of the veterans in that group was involved in non-military violence” (p. 28).

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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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