On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

22 Jun 2009

by Dave Grossman

The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young. Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.


Pages: 416

Publisher: Back Bay Books

Overall: 53% of the 218 mentions are positive, 35% are neutral and 12% are negative.



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218 mentions sorted by:
  • >Do some research on killology and maybe read https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932 "Educate yourself shitlord" is not an argument. It's a cheap deflect people that like to make up numbers (99.99%!!11) use when they cannot prove what they say. >Why do you think are there only a handful of Muslims actually committing terrorist attacks? What do you think is the reasoning behind that? There are also people aiding them and inciting others. France close down 3 mosques - 334 war grade weapons found - 223 arrests. Islamist extremists hide huge stockpile of weapons near German mosque. There are plenty more of links of other mosques if search on google...this fact alone proves that your idea of "just because they believe it's good doesn't mean they do it" is wrong. Are you going to say this was just a "coincidence"? That they aren't being helped by the local mosques?
    1 points in /r/videos by UnavailableUsername_ | 27 May 2017
  • Do some research on killology and maybe read https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932 There is a reason we have to train even soldiers to kill. But let me ask you this. If you think terrorist ideology is intrinsic with Muslims and they all get a nice time in heaven if they die fighting jihad. Why do you think are there only a handful of Muslims actually committing terrorist attacks? What do you think is the reasoning behind that?
    2 points in /r/videos by photenth | 27 May 2017
  • Sure; continue to be naive and ignorant. Here's a link for you to become enlightened. https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932
    0 points in /r/worldnews by warmwaffles | 07 May 2017
  • On Killing is a pretty good one that talks about how soldiers have adapted through the ages to overcome the aversion to killing. A bunch of the 12B's in my platoon were reading it and I didn't even know they could read.
    4 points in /r/army by Andy5416 | 04 May 2017
  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society https://www.amazon.com/dp/0316040932/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_nNmczbEJ70HEP
    1 points in /r/politics by tasslehawf | 02 May 2017
  • https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932 This book talks about the natural aversion we have when killing another human and the study they did after WWII and how they learned to train today's soldiers to kill more effectively. The main method is the use of life-like targets from silhouettes to mannequins. Also the use of video like games for training; they learned this from the kids who played "Duck Hunt". The kids who grew up playing "Duck Hunt" significantly cut the learning curve how to shoot a pistol and hitting the target.
    1 points in /r/history by BlackApache66 | 01 May 2017
  • These books have helped me tremendously through the hiring process so far. I took recommendations from friends and acquaintances in law enforcement and from searching through previous threads on this subreddit.

    On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society https://www.amazon.com/dp/0316040932/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_GNK.ybMTBZKVX

    Emotional survival for law enforcement: A guide for officers and their families https://www.amazon.com/dp/0971725403/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_EOK.ybR4XSKZY

    Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion; Updated Edition https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062107704/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_EQK.yb1MWMEPV
    5 points in /r/ProtectAndServe by Rustic_E | 25 Apr 2017

  • I've hear the same theory; never heard of whatever youtuber you're referring to.

    https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932
    1 points in /r/IAmA by geneadamsPS4 | 08 Mar 2017

  • The point is that while there are lots of first hand accounts there is no corroborating evidence of it happening which calls those accounts into question. Lots of people claim to have seen Bigfoot; aliens and the Loch Ness monster but there is no proof of those either. If it was as widespread as the many later claims that were made there should be something from that time backing it up yet so far nobody has found it. Even if not a photo or footage there should be something that was written at that time which would mention it given the barrels of ink that were used writing about the domestic turmoil the war caused.

    So; while it is impossible to prove that it never happened the lack of evidence makes it seem as though it is a figurative stance that many people take as literal. In my opinion that figurative spitting was done more by the government than the population when the soldiers came home. On Killing is a good book on the psychological toll that many soldiers were left to deal with on their own; it gets a bit repetitive in places but it's a good read.
    1 points in /r/pics by tacknosaddle | 18 Feb 2017

  • I'll make a recommendation I make a few times a year here on Reddit an suggest reading On Killing by Lt. Col. David Grossman:

    https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psychological-Cost-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932

    Dave Grossman goes over a human's natural disinclination to kill in fine detail; using historical war records of proof. Then; he analyzes how modern war training (Vietnam and beyond) is built around overcoming these natural aversions; and of course how bloodlust can take control where training does not (as it does here). A lot of interesting bits on how physical or mechanical distance lessons phychological reactions to the act and how soldiers make justifications in the moment.

    His answer to the "what's next" question is total and unconditional support of soldiers that return home that have not been perpetrators of atrocities. They need to know that what they did was necessary; that they did it for their country; that we are proud of what they've done and appreciate it. The exposure of civilians to the horrors of war by the media in Vietnam; and the public's reaction to the soldier's returning; is cted as a primary reason for the mental illness wave that affects the veterans of that war disproportionately.

    You may not support going to war - the justifications or methods - but you must always support the men and women sent to kill and die by our government as they are serving their country in the best way they know how; and it is important to validate that sacrifice.
    9 points in /r/bestof by crazyrich | 16 Feb 2017