14 May 2006


Indri points us to a CNN article: Mentally ill troops forced into combat.
The paper reported that some service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for “extended deployments.”

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

“I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. “You're creating chemically activated time bombs.”

This reminds me of a passage from Jon Ronson's book The Men Who Stare At Goats.
studies conducted after the Second World War ... interviewed thousands of American infantrymen and concluded that only 15 to 20 percent of them had actually shot to kill. The rest had fired high or not fired at all, busying themselves however else they could.

And 98 percent of the soldiers who did shoot to kill were later found to have been deeply traumatized by their actions. The other 2 percent were diagnosed as “agressive psychopathic personalities,” who basically didn't mind killing people under any circumstances, at home or abroad.

The conclusion—in the words of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman of the Killology Research Group—was that “there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 percent of all men insane and the other 2 percent were crazy when they got there.”

Like I couldn't have guessed that.

No comments: