Reddit Reddit reviews On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

We found 33 Reddit comments about On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
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33 Reddit comments about On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society:

u/LateNightFright · 25 pointsr/askscience

Your last comment is not accurate because we do have extensive data on the willingness of military professionals to kill. Data exists demonstrating changes in American military training leading to a higher kill rate. In the past, a lower percentage of shots hit the enemy than they do now. Even accounting for changes and weapon accuracy, it is more likely there was a change in training that made killing the enemy more attractive. See the work of Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman and his theory of killology. A book link for the curious.

Informed consent and participant protections are terrible for science. We would make so much more progress if we could do whatever we wanted to the human bodies of willing and unwilling participants. We have so little evidence on medical treatments for children because no one wants to volunteer their children for experimental treatments. Imagine a world in which we could say 50% of people who walk through the door of a Cancer Treatment Center are getting a new experimental drug at varying concentrations and the other 50% get the conventional treatment. Think of a world in which prisoners could donate their bodies for real life experimentation. Though one could argue the type of people who end up with life in prison do not accurately represent the rest of the country. But you have to start somewhere right?

We believe in bodily autonomy in this country, so I'm certain that is going to change, and so the idea of experimenting on people against their will is somewhat anathema. And of course many of us in science have morals. But in my little heart of hearts, I deeply wish we could do more human experimentation.

u/hakkzpets · 12 pointsr/TrueReddit

According to what I have read, only about four percent of all the military in the army actually enjoys being in war.

I guess there's quite little talk about it because I have a feeling news stations don't really want to show the people who brag about how many kills they have and how they tortured people to death.

There's actually written a few books on that very few even fires at the enemy in wars to begin with.

u/gzcl · 10 pointsr/fitnesscirclejerk

Something something my rant about Crossfitters thinking they're "warriors."

Edit: I would further like to add to that rant the following:

Just because someone is physically strong or a trained "martial artist" doesn't mean they're capable of stopping any sort of violence; either before or during it occurring. With the thousands of dojos around America you would think that there would be a greater amount of citizen intervention in day to day crimes. But there isn't. Why? Because being physically able to stop or prevent something is entirely different than being mentally capable of it. Sure, someone can be a "trained" fighter, carry with them all sorts of skills and wear a fancy colored belt in the ring, but when there isn't a judge or ref around it changes the situation quite a bit.

There are two types of people in this world. Those who know violence and those who know of it. They are not one in the same. People who know violence can use it on demand for the benefit of themselves or others; or for the destruction thereof.

Those who know of violence cannot bring themselves mentally close enough to that edge of brutality where self destruction and self defense are often one in the same.

For a little taste of this concept read the following:

u/[deleted] · 9 pointsr/ShitAmericansSay

>what is the difference between someone who kills you with a gun versus someone who hits you with his car, or uses a baseball bat.

This Is the book you need to read on that subject.

u/PissFuckinDrunk · 9 pointsr/Military

Its tough to really say. I'll try to explain it to you and keep an open mind. From your post I'm guessing you haven't served; not judging just work with me here, this is going to sound VERY "you just don't understand US".

Military members have seen and done things that others have not, to such a degree that we have a very hard time connecting with someone who hasn't. Doesn't even have to involve combat. I can recall sitting in the defense, up to my knees in water, in 11 degrees. Its 2 AM, I've been up for days, I am far beyond miserable but I am driven by the desire not to let my people down. So I fight the fact that I can't feel my feet, I punch myself in the face to stay awake and I struggle to maintain every fiber of my will, so my buddy can get some shuteye. After a while, you just feel broken inside. I can't even get into words how absolutely gut-wrenchingly awful that experience is, the toll it takes on you. This episode will repeat itself EVERY DAY for the remainder of your career. I tell you this because, when life gets bad (money problems, girl problems, life problems, psych issues from combat WHATEVER) and you REALLY need to connect with someone and talk it out, YOU FEEL UTTERLY ALONE.

I would come home to my family and friends and really just need to pour it all out and let them comfort me, but I couldn't. Because they just didn't understand. I could walk into a crowd of people, and feel so completely alone. Imagine being the only man left on earth, but you are surrounded by people.

Now what about other service members you ask? You're right, those people could very well understand me and I COULD talk to them. EXCEPT for the mentality that is built into the very FOUNDATION of military service: mental toughness. Only now is the military even scratching the SURFACE of taking this problem on. When I got out (2 years ago) we had a guy who very clearly needed help (unstable, flashbacks, intense nightmares, pulling knives on people) and I was forced to take it up the chain to our battalion commander (probably 20+ years in, in charge of 1000+ Marines, WAY up there) to get him help. Even then it was a half-assed effort.

Military service can be so incredibly damaging to your psyche that it forces you into that dark part of your mind where you can't take it anymore. When you see the only option is the out, and you are virtually surrounded by weapons all the time....its a tough cross to bear.

I suggest you also read a fantastic book called "On Killing" which should provide you with the psychology behind the damage done from combat. VERY informative book.

I'm sorry this rambles, and I don't think I really answered your question at all. Writing this really brought back a lot. More than I want. Hopefully I helped.

u/dotrob · 7 pointsr/science

> Most humans will kill innocents if authority asks them too. Look at the military.

Actually, no. David Grossman discusses what makes soldiers kill in On Killing and he cites ample evidence that healthy people have an innate revulsion to killing another human being -- a revulsion that is greater than the impulse for self-preservation in many instances.

He lists a number of factors that influence soldiers to kill, and among them is the presence of an authority figure. But it is by no means automatic or reflexive under normal circumstances (though he discusses modern training methods and conditioning, and how they significantly lower the psychological barrier to killing).

u/polyparadigm · 7 pointsr/collapse

Have you heard of the book On Killing?

I think that zombies aren't exactly a metaphor in the literary sense, but rather, a paradigm example of how to "other" people in preparation to kill them.

I think it's no accident that most zombie movies have a main character "turn", such that their former friends have to kill them or at least support their suicide. It's strategically important to prime people for this sort of emotional transition long before actual conflict begins, and popular culture is an easy way to do so. Zombies can later be assigned to anyone the leadership chooses: a certain kind of foreigner, or a certain kind of American.

This is part of why Shaun of the Dead is so subversive: it shows friendships and marriages repaired following the conflict.

u/robbimj · 6 pointsr/news

It isn't theory. Only 15-20% of soldiers fired at the enemy in WW2 but that increased dramatically to 95% by the Vietnam war. The book I linked below brings up the reasoning behind that. Training changed to make killing a human more mentally possible through the use of silhouettes instead of a bulls eye.

>Drawing on interviews, published personal accounts and academic studies, Grossman investigates the psychology of killing in combat. Stressing that human beings have a powerful, innate resistance to the taking of life, he examines the techniques developed by the military to overcome that aversion. His provocative study focuses in particular on the Vietnam war, revealing how the American soldier was "enabled to kill to a far greater degree than any other soldier in history."

u/pyrrh0 · 6 pointsr/IAmA

I'm sure this varies by Marine, but for me, I don't think it would be an issue. They don't train you on the psychological effect per se, but many things are geared toward getting you prepared to do it. On the rifle range (we go qualify every year) everyone pulls targets (they're protected by a big dirt berm) and gets used to the sound of bullets going by. An enlisted Marine is trained from day one to be obedient to orders and perform repetitive tasks (muscle memory, they call it). I think it would be something that would happen automatically, from training, then the individual would sort it out mentally later.
As an officer, you could potentially give an order that would lead to another Marine firing a shot...that could also prove to be something the officer would have to deal with later on. If you're curious about the mental ramifications of warfare, I'd read On Killing by Dave Grossman.

u/CaptSeaturtle · 4 pointsr/sandiego

Actually a person who is mentally ill can more easily shoot you than a sane person. The military has poured tons of money into figuring out how to get average young men to kill each other.

If your interested in the topic a book called "On Killing" is a must read.

u/Borderline769 · 3 pointsr/videos

Dave Grossman does a very good job of explaining this in his book On Killing.

Paraphrasing, they aren't so much celebrating the fact they just killed someone as they are celebrating that they successfully completed a task they had been trained to do.

Consider it this way. If you spent 6 months of your life training to kick a field goal, and finally its game time and you get to kick a field goal. If you succeed, you are thrilled that you accomplished your goal. If you miss, even if it doesn't cost you the game, you are disappointed in yourself. This feeling is natural regardless of the action you are performing. You can actually see both reactions in the video, the "nice shooting" comment and the "Sorry" when the gunner missed his second volley.

It may seem cold blooded in a soldier, but its just human nature.

u/TehSkiff · 3 pointsr/AskReddit

Read "On Killing" by Dave Grossman.

u/mathiasben · 2 pointsr/todayilearned

You are incorrect good sir, Humans have an innate aversion to killing their own kind. this book, is required reading at paris island and at west point. It explains the whole topic in great detail. Everyone should read it.

u/Just_Like_You · 2 pointsr/Fallout

You're actually in the minority. Most people can't bring themselves to knowingly kill another human being.

This is why history has "execution by firing squad" instead of "execution by single gunman." It's not to be certain of execution (death is certain with a single bullet at close range) - it's because they found time and again that a single person doesn't want to shoot another person. It's only when in a group and feeling the diffusion of responsibility that people can bring themselves to shoot the prisoner - because there's comfort in not knowing if it was really their bullet that dealt the final blow.

Most people don't want to hurt another person, and would have huge moral qualms even when faced with the situation you describe. You're in the minority, but one that's celebrated.

u/Shmo60 · 2 pointsr/todayilearned

There is a fantastic book on this subject called On Killing. One of the more incredible books I've read on War.

u/burntsushi · 2 pointsr/IAmA

> you should accept you may die doing so.

Yeah... so what? This has nothing to do with whether it is right or not. I accept that I may die in driving my car to school today... Does that make it okay for someone to take me off the road? (This is analogous only to the extent that "accepting" something doesn't make it okay.)

Nevertheless, people don't give up their right to life just because they steal from you. If they are imposing a threat, that's a different story. But if the first thing an intruder does when you see them is run or surrender, your claim that your life was in imminent danger would be highly dubious. If you proceed to kill them, you've committed an execution.

If a justice system doesn't have some sort of proportionality with regards to the crime and punishment, then it would be a bit chaotic, don't ya think?

You're effectively saying that you're above that idea of proportionality...

On a side note, check out On Killing. Talking about gunning someone down is a lot different than actually doing it.

(I feel I must be clear. If the intruder is coming at you or imposing a threat, then I would certainly agree that deadly force may be okay.)

u/madman1969 · 2 pointsr/videos

There's a lot of battlefield evidence that even under a 'kill or be killed' scenario some will not pull the trigger. A lot seems to depend on the proximity of the potential killer to the potential victim.

Put simply, artillery or high-altitude bombing is less morally stressful than shooting somebody at close range. The most stressful, unsurprisingly is CQB or hand-to-hand combat.

This book provides a far better explanation than any summary I could give.

u/Adzmodean · 2 pointsr/videos

Your first point, I'm not suggesting that American Police Officers are serving in the military - rather I suspected that they signed up for law enforcement after leaving the military. Apparently this is not the case, but I'd love to see some actually statistics on police officers involved in these instances and prior military experience.

Secondly, this book makes the claim that in WWII only a very small percentage of soldiers fired their weapons in anger, and a smaller percentage again were actually aiming to kill their adversary. Since that time, American military training has gotten better and better at breaking down those psychological barriers against killing. Of course, you haven't won a war since then either because that behavior has alienated every single native population you've dealt with. In fact, the better the USMil has gotten at killing, the more extreme the local reaction against it - the only recorded suicide bombing in Vietnam was against the French (though there were other suicide missions). And on top that the suicide rates of returning vets from Vietnam and now the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, exceed the number of soldiers KIA. So doing well in combat seems to involve winning, instead of staying alive. Patton's phrase regarding the purpose of war being "...not to die for your country, but make the other bastard die for his." seems to be lost in this mentality, seeing that ex-servicemen are dying for their country anyway, just not in battle. So while the USMil does well at infantry combat, they're not good at winning wars, or staying alive afterwards.

As to your third point, that's a straw-man argument. I'm not decrying the need for force; police officers in the UK, France, Australia, and Canada also deal with gun crime and violent criminals, yet their appearance in these youtube and liveleak videos seems far rarer (I'm not saying that it doesn't happen). That may be because of smaller populations, but their rarity should then increase their impact and exposure. I'd direct your attention to the context of our conversation, which is the execution style killing of an (apparently) safe animal.

Anyway, if someone was a sociology or psych researcher, I think it would be very valuable to gather those stats and see if there's a correlation.

TL:DR You said you didn't understand my question - then wrote an essay anyway, so I answered you.

u/Tutush · 1 pointr/ColorizedHistory

You can find the stats in a lot of places. I've never seen a stat that said more than 25% of soldiers shot at the enemy (not shooting to kill, just shooting towards the enemy). If you're looking for a book on the subject, try On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman. You can read bits of it on Amazon, but it's worth reading the whole thing.

Modern armies train you to shoot to kill. In the past, when training with weapons, you'd shoot at a circular target. When you got to the front, you could aim, but you weren't mentally prepared to actually kill another human, so most soldiers didn't. In a modern army, they train you to shoot before you can consider the human you're killing.

u/BeardedDragonFire · 1 pointr/NAP
u/stoic9 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

On Killing has some interesting material in it.

u/Jason207 · 1 pointr/Minecraft

It's actually more complicated than that, but he's not completely off point.

I highly recommend reading "on killing". It's a really insightful read on how our brains prevent us from killing each other, and how hard armies work to overcome it.

One of the steps, btw, is getting soldiers used to shooting at human shaped targets.

u/Canadian_Infidel · 1 pointr/AskReddit

No you fucking retard. Read a book. A good start would be On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

And I quote:

>Grossman's argument is carefully researched and methodically laid out. He begins by filling in some historical details, discussing the statistics for shots fired per soldier killed for the World Wars and the American Civil War.

>The book continues on then, detailing what steps the US Army took to increase the percentage that they could get to actually fire upon their enemy. By studying precisely what the soldier's ordinary reactions were, the officers were able to change the scenario of war in order to avoid the most stressful of situations.

So go fuck yourself you stupid retard flag waving hick.

u/Technohazard · 1 pointr/Military

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society - by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

  • Humans possess the reluctance to kill their own kind
  • This reluctance can be systematically broken down by use of standard conditioning techniques
  • "Normal" soldiers react in "stages" after killing people in close combat.

    If you haven't read this book, it's truly brilliant.
u/Reddit_Moviemaker · 1 pointr/movies

Killing often, and especially in this case, means that the individual must see the victim as "other"/"different from me"/"alien". The moment that this imagination collapses there can not be justification for it anymore. You can look at what military has invented in order to get around human's natural tendency to NOT kill another human.

u/AxelShoes · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Not OP, but he's probably referencing this book.

u/mennolife · 1 pointr/Nodumbquestions

Loved the episode, you guys work really well together. Just thought I'd mention a great book I read in regards to war and having to kill each other, is called On Killing by Dave Grossman ( it goes into allot of the psychology, in how it relates to different soldiers in their respective roles (ground troops, pilots, sailors) would strongly recommend it!

u/_lechu_ · 1 pointr/philosophy

So is there or isn't a reference to humans and does the post not revolve around killing within the same species ? So what exactly have You had to guess or mind-read ? Or are You only interested in verbs ? Look, once again – comparing spiders to humans in terms of the Self is just wrong on too many levels to enumerate. I tried to show You why, and that is because You focus mainly on basic patterns (eat, pray, mate - whatever) and a philosophical zombie is well in place for that. If You still like to argue then show me a neurobiological study on spiders which would prove me wrong. Otherwise You have to reexamine that which You consider one’s Self.

Concerning the things You listed – I just don’t get why You omit the fact that from the very beginning I was stating that the reluctance to kill members of one’s own species can be overwritten. But the fact that a policeman or a soldier has to be preconditioned in order to be able to perform such a task is in itself in accordance with what I state, isn’t it ? I would gladly check out some of the tons of up-to-date resources that prove me wrong, but all I find are articles or books like:

From the last link: More recently, support for the hypothesis that soldiers enjoy killing came
from Theodore Nadelson, a psychiatrist who treated US ex-servicemen at the
Boston Veterans Administration Hospital.Based on the testimony of 24
anonymized cases, Nadelson concluded that true killers in Vietnam were ‘ordi-
nary men’ before enlistment. He argued that once an
initial resistance had
been overcome in training, soldiers became addicted to the excitement and
sense of freedom created by the licence to kill, while the act itself could assume
the quality of sexual arousal or drug-induced ecstasy. Given that the veterans
he had interviewed all suffered from intractable
psychiatric disorders, includ-
ing post-traumatic stress disorder
, Nadelson implicitly rejected any suggestion
that killing protected against mental illness.

If You could support something of substance that proves You right it would be great. Bottom line - what You are saying is: we don’t know that killing other humans is bad unless we are told so. So who the hell told us that in the first place ? Maybe God did ? Morality obtained by natural selection just fist, clicks, works. And I have yet to see evidence to the contrary.

u/camelFace · 1 pointr/pics

There's a world of difference between going on deployment, and killing innocents.

Military history is full of conscientious objectors. Try out On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Lt-Col. David Grossman. The first widely published (only?) study on the psychological impact of killing, Grossman interviews a number of American combat veterans and the results are both fascinating and surprising. The most striking figure is the sheer number of non-firing, non-killing combat veterans. Many veterans would specifically pride themselves on the fact they made it all the way from D Day to VE Day without ever killing anyone.

I could literally go on -- citing sources the whole time -- for days, talking about anecdotes from soldiers throughout WWI on who had close contact with a member of the enemy forces who brought no harm to each other. A US Army tunnel rat in Vietnam encountering an NVA eating rice -- turned away, left each other alone. A group of Germans helping a Canadian medic retrieve his wounded on the blasted mud of the Somme. The Christmas Truce on the fields of Flanders. Germans who refused to kill civilians and consequently joined them in front of the Nazi firing squad, Italians who hosted American paratroopers. A Pashtuun village in the mountains of Afghanistan offering refuge to a wounded Navy SEAL. An American who adopted a thirteen year old Iraqi boy with cerebral palsy -- shit, most American thirteen year olds end up aging out of the system.

I've got other shit to do though, and these aren't exactly unknown or unpublished events. Hell, most of them were in history class.

u/Kageken · 1 pointr/videos

I honestly think one of the worst parts is he was psychiatric casualty and he was told he would get punished for seeking treatment? I thought the military knew better then this at this point. Infact I know they know better than that. Jesus.

u/punasoni · -2 pointsr/Suomi

Lähinnä nettikeskustelun tulevaisuudesta. Jos netin julkista keskustelua ja siellä tapahtuvaa vainoamista ei jotenkin hallita, eivät tavalliset ihmiset uskalla sanoa mielipidettään vainon pelossa.

Myös jatkuva dehumanisoiva vihapuhe voi madaltaa kynnystä väkivaltaan. Kerääppä vaikka 50 hengen joukkio ja mene paikalliseen ostoskeskukseen vaatimaan ja kannustamaan tietyn ihmisryhmän tappamista ja raiskaamista. Samalla voit huudella tiettyjen yksityishenkilöiden nimiä ja vaatia heidän tappamistaan tai raiskaamistaan. Takaan, että et saa toimia kovin pitkään. Jos teet saman netissä, voit tehdä sitä rauhassa vuosia. En itse näe että tämä on täysin johdonmukaista tai järkevää.

Hieman arveluttaa mitä tien päästä löytyy jos vaikka 90-luvun laman olosuhteet toistuvat ja kiihotus on tätä tasoa. Ja se tilannehan toistuu vastaavana tai pahempana ennemmin tai myöhemmin.

Aihetta sivuaa muuten mielenkiintoinen kirja jos haluaa lukea väkivallasta ja psykologiasta: