theme: PSYCHO-SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF WAR
issue date: july 1998
Long-Term Reactions of Veterans to the War Experience
The history of long-term posttraumatic reactions in war veterans is described. During World War I shell shock - a disorder with predominantly conversion reactions - was most commonly observed. Many veterans of the World War II suffered from combat exhaustion. In 1980, based on studies of American Vietnam War veterans, the posttraumatic stress disorder was intorduced. The advantages and limitations of this new diagnostic category are discussed.
The Impact of War Stress on Veterans Families
Studying the personality and sociodemographic variables implicated in recovery from CSR, the author of this paper and her colleagues found a surprising association between marital status and PTSD. This finding had led to a series of studies focusing on families of veterans suffering from PTSD. The studies, presented in the following paper, revealed high rates of secondary traumatizationt. That is, psychic trauma may create ripples which affect not only the victims themselves, but also those who are close to them. While veterans were traumatized directly by the war their wives and families become indirect victims of the trauma. Furthermore correlates of secondary traumatization in veterans' families are presented and discussed. The paper further discusses some moderating factors and the implications of the findings for parenthood and family life.
Suicide and other Violent Death Cases in Norwegian Peacekeeping Forces
In a population of former Norwegian UN personnel serving in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon) in the period 1978-1991, was found a 43% increased mortality of suicide and a 28% increase in the mortality of other violent death. These findings have contributed to the development of suicide prevention strategies targeting Norwegian UN personnel. Suicide prevention strategies in the Norwegian UN forces before the mission focus on self-help, buddy aid and leader responsibilities. In theatre focus is put on crisis interventions. After completing the mission, high risk groups are identified for systematic follow-up procedures. Current plans for improvement of the existing suicide prevention strategy focus on development of individual screening procedures better adapted to male symptomatology, and current research targets investigations of committed suicides and other violent deaths amongst Norwegian UN veterans.
The War Injury and the Prognostic Value of Dreams
The author presents the findings of his studying the problems of war trauma with a special concern for physical and psychological consequences of the injuries to the spinal cord (paraplegia, quadriplegia). In this work the author was particularly interested in prognostic meaning of dreams. An injury to the spinal cord brings along a complete change of one’s life in all its aspects. The trauma affects the person’s physiology, i.e. his/her inner functioning, but also relationships with other people and the way of experiencing the world.
Condition caused by the trauma affects not only the whole personality of the patient as an individual, but also his family and professional life and, finally, the society in which he lives.
The meaning of such a trauma for the individual and the community is the principal motive for studying all the elements which might help improve the traumatized person’s quality of life. In the focus of the author’s interest was, among other things, to confirm the assumption about psychosocial rehabilitation and the doctor’s assessment to find out, through dreams, the patient’s acceptance of reality and his own handicap, which means his involvement in life with reduced capacities, but with creative impulses for possible endeavours.
In the rehabilitation hospital the author had the opportunity to meet individually hundreds of the disabled with damaged spinal cord (about 700 of them). He studied thoroughly one hundred of the wounded, paying a special attention to their dreams, along with other aspects of their everyday life and illness. Dreams were a suitable indication of their acceptance of reality, and from dreams the author could also deduce prognostic evaluation regarding their future life.
Sociology of a Forgotten War
In the analytical review of the “forgotten” (partisan) war based on the personal memory from a distance of half a century, the author applies sociological frame of reference on his memories. In the study the author sheds a light on some still relevant issues. In the chapter “Army or partisanship” the author considers the problem of transformation of partisan units to “real army”. He puts greater stress on the strong, egalitarian orientation and the “decentralization” of decision making in action, on the first lines of battlefield, which came out of it than on the modern armament and “paperwork” (bureaucratization) of the chain of command.
The first indications of transformation (on the territory of Dalmatia) took place in the fall of 1944 (during Knin operation) but the author was put out of action due to his injuries. Today, we could consider the contrary transformation (“army” - JNA - paramilitary units). As a professional sociologist the author considers (in a chapter “Social structure and combat moral”) the key problem of every army: the combat moral and the efficacy connected with it. Contrary to usual and “proven” stereotypes the author proofs that the main determinant of moral and efficacy is social structure, in other words social distance in military hierarchy. In the situation of existential stress, the essential reduction of stress and the improvement of moral and efficacy is achieved by minimizing the social distance. The author explains the mechanism of stress reduction with the Merton’s term of latent function.
Although, the egalitarian climate was still dominant in the 26th Division on Vis in 1944, the first cracks and conflicts between higher levels of command (brigade, division) and lower levels were starting to show. September, 1944, during the Sumartin offensive the mutiny almost broke out (the whole battalion refused to follow the order because of a silly order from the above). The division between higher rank officers, who have been taking care of their own promotion and careers and the soldiers and lower commanding officers who did not accept to be sacrificed as an expandable human material became quite visible. The author “caught” the moment when the fated solidarity from the first war years definitely fell apart in partisan army and he described that in the chapter “Rebels with a cause”.
While discussions of terrorism in everydayy dsicourse and the media as a rule assume that terrorism is an activity of nono-state agencies, the author defines terrorism in such a way that one can speak of state terrorism too. His interest in the practice of terrorism is philospohical; accordingly, he focuses on the problem of its moral justification. The author advances the thesis that although all terrorism is extremely morally wrong, state terrorism is worse than terrorism employed by non-state groups and organizations. He offers four arguments in support of this claim.
How Flat is Kosovo: Some Social, Political and Military Aspects of Kosovo Conflict
The war in Kosovo is the last in the row of wars set off by the disintegration of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The question is, if we take into consideration that two years have passed since the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, why the Albanians postponed the armed uprising when the conditions for winning the military victory today are much worse then they were when Serbia was engaged in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Today, the war in Kosovo appears to be retarded continuation of the wars that took place on the territory of former-Yugoslavia. The author studies the reasons for “delay” of Kosovo’s war in relation to the wars that took place in the immediate surroundings of Kosovo including the inner logic which made Albanians to turn to armed option of the fight for freedom. The paper gives a review of the formations and tactics of sides in conflict, the impact of the war operations on the immediate surroundings, the role of the international community in localizing the conflict, and the possible future developments.
War in Croatia 1991-1995. Part Two: From Sarajevo Truce to Final Operations
The second part of this paper brings the overview of the long Sitzkrieg in Croatia (1992-1995). The final operations of 1995 and the suppression of the unsuccessful Serb insurgency are discussed. The overall conclusion is that the conduct of war was driven mainly by political and not by military considerations.