Dave Grossman

On Killing

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A controversial psychological examination of how soldiers’ willingness to kill has been encouraged and exploited to the detriment of contemporary civilian society.
Psychologist and US Army Ranger Dave Grossman writes that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to pull the trigger in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion.
The mental cost for members of the military, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The sociological cost for the rest of us is even worse: Contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques and, Grossman argues, is responsible for the rising rate of murder and violence, especially among the young.
Drawing from interviews, personal accounts, and academic studies, On Killing is an important look at the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.
This book is currently unavailable
454 printed pages
Original publication
2014

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Quotes

    facu Ghas quoted5 months ago
    Yet at the same time that our society represses killing, a new obsession with the depiction of violent and brutal death and dismemberment of humans has flourished. The public appetite for violence in movies, particularly in splatter movies such as Natural Born Killers, Kill Bill, Saw, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the cult status of “heroes” like Jason and Freddy; the popularity of bands with names like Megadeth and Guns N’ Roses; and skyrocketing murder and violent crime rates—all these are symptoms of a bizarre, pathological dichotomy of simultaneous repression and obsession with violence.
    facu Ghas quoted5 months ago
    “If the death of one rat cured all diseases it wouldn’t make any difference to me. In the scheme of life we’re equal.”
    Sergio Yumbehas quoted2 years ago
    There can be no doubt that this resistance to killing one’s fellow man is there and that it exists as a result of a powerful combination of instinctive, rational, environmental, hereditary, cultural, and social factors. It is there, it is strong, and it gives us cause to believe that there just may be hope for mankind after all.

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