Saturday, May 16, 2009


From a Washington Post article about a recent shooting spree at a US Military mental health clinic in Baghdad, where a soldier killed 5 of his comrades.

In an effort to prevent the mental strains, the Army is conducting resilience training known as "Battlemind" throughout its ranks and during different phases of deployment. "Battlemind" is an unprecedented effort to toughen soldiers psychologically for war, said Richard Keller, who leads the program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring.

"We show them what the deployment experience can be like, what things you might see, smell, think, feel, hear -- all the sensory inputs . . . so they are not taken by surprise," Keller said.

"Some people have a tendency when an event takes place to catastrophize it, and make it appear more intense or difficult than it actually is," he said, so the training seeks to reinforce constructive reactions to combat and life-threatening situations.

While I've nothing but sympathy for people who suffer from warzone-related mental illnesses, there is something about this that strikes me as problematic. How exactly will these soldiers be mentally conditioned? What happens when you tell people to treat combat as a normal situation?

"So, you've just blown a door open before searching a house, and noticed on your way out that there's a child with an open head wound bleeding onto the floor. This is a normal combat-related accident, and when it happens, you'll be tempted to catastrophize it in your own mind. . . "

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: