A natural question is why there appear to have been blind spots in various parts of the literature regarding perpetration as an etiological (causal) trauma for PTSD. The construct of PTSD has been applied widely, expanded from soldiers to crime victims and concentration camp survivors and even survivors of life-threatening accidents, disasters, and heart attacks. The discussion preceding the official definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) states that the condition is more severe when the causal trauma is of human origin. Vicarious traumatization of those who must deal with those who have been traumatized, through therapy or legal proceedings, has been covered. Emergency personnel and rescue workers whose job it is to assist people in traumatic circumstances have been studied. A proposal has been made that those who suffer continual traumatizations, as with those who endure domestic abuse for several years, have a complex form of PTSD that requires separate or additional consideration (Herman, 1992). Interest in PTSD has been extensive, with theories, models, and variations offered in vast array.
Several years ago, when I first approached the subject of how the human mind responds to the act of killing, I knew that “battle fatigue” was called “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” in the psychological literature. I therefore assumed that this is what I would need to study. It was an assumption derived from the bias of my background as a Quaker pacifist, in a similar tradition to that of Jane Addams. While I was making the same kind of assumption she did in her observation of World War I soldiers (see Chapter 1), I found upon delving