From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

War: Mythic motivations

(British Paratroopers - 1944)
If you've ever wondered - really wondered – why human history is so fraught with war, psychologist Lawrence LeShan might just have some of the answers.

According to Wikipedia, LeShan has written numerous articles and books on such varied topics as "psychotherapy, war, cancer treatment, and mysticism."  These include his 1974 best-seller How to Meditate, as well as his 1992 The Psychology of War: Comprehending Its Mystique and Its Madness.

The latter is based upon the psychological premise that war is rooted in mythic thought.  In her review of this book, Kim Dorio explains that "mythic thinking divides the world into the good (us) and the evildoers (them)."  Facts do not easily interfere with this mode of reasoning.  Instead, intense emotions prevail.

During a war which is deemed somewhat apocalyptic (i.e., a do-or-die fight to make the world safe for the "good guys"), prosaic routines can appear heroic.  As Dorio points out:  …petty personal problems disappear, social stresses dissolve as people band together, daily life suddenly has gravity and meaning…

It's no wonder, then, that war seems woven into the very fabric of human nature.  As with many other deadly addictions, the trauma is just enough masked by the drama to make it momentarily seem all worthwhile.    


Copyright November 7, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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