by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques an, according to Grossman's controversial thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder, especially among the young.
On Killing is an important study of 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.
A former army Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman taught psychology at West Point and is currently the Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University.