The Psychology Of War

Overview


Our wars have become more lethal, yet the affinity for war hasn't changed. Why? As the entire world anticipates a lengthy war against terrorism, this intriguing study provides a new understanding of why people fight wars so frequently and ferociously. Former military psychologist Lawrence LeShan's piercing analysis reveals why war is often chosen over more peaceful solutions, and why it is so easy to get into a war and so hard to get out. Can peace be planned? How can we devise an "early warning system" for war?...
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Overview


Our wars have become more lethal, yet the affinity for war hasn't changed. Why? As the entire world anticipates a lengthy war against terrorism, this intriguing study provides a new understanding of why people fight wars so frequently and ferociously. Former military psychologist Lawrence LeShan's piercing analysis reveals why war is often chosen over more peaceful solutions, and why it is so easy to get into a war and so hard to get out. Can peace be planned? How can we devise an "early warning system" for war? Are some government structures more prone to war than others?

LeShan tells how perceptions of war are managed by "mythicizing" rulers and propagandists. Using last year's Persian Gulf War as a touchstone, he illustrates how, in order to alter our perceptions of war and warfare, we have to adjust our perception of its "reality." "How good it would be if every legislator and cabinet member read and took to heart the practical suggestions . . . LeShan has for making peace planning as potent as war planning."--Hugh Downs.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
LeShan, a clinical psychologist and author of Cancer as a Turning Point , argues that wars are an aspect of human behavior. War--widespread, easy to start, difficult to control--he maintains, fulfills psychological needs and eases tensions by creating an alternate reality structure, a binary vision of good versus evil. Like a mythic event, war makes the lives of individual participants more intense and more meaningful, at the same time creating the sense of a collective engaged in a noble enterprise. LeShan's explanations of war's appeal are more convincing than his ideas for calling on psychology and other social sciences to make us less susceptible to warmongering. Educational reforms to foster self-acceptance and government reforms to encourage peace-seeking appear fragile barriers against the powerful forces LeShan describes. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The author of 11 books on psychology, including the recent Cancer as a Turning Point ( LJ 4/15/89), Shan turns here to the question of war. He centers his explanation on the psychological phenomenon of shifting from one conception of reality to others, and especially to ``mythic reality.'' Once this shift has been made, the checks and balances of sensory reality are discarded and humans begin to see reality as a clash of good and evil that allows for no shadings or subtlety. LeShan argues that such thinking is used to justify initiating war and committing atrocities--acts that are unthinkable in other circumstances. By glorifying past wars and preparing for future wars, society reinforces this mindset. War is even welcomed, for it allows individuals to project inner hatreds, displace aggression, find a transcendental purpose in life, and achieve a sense of belonging in a group. LeShan suggests that to address the question of war, we must recognize the temptation of mythic thinking, educate individuals to find fulfillment outside the satisfactions of war, and restructure governments to seek peace with as much vigor as they prepare for armed conflict. Written in an accessible style with solid scholarship, this slender volume is recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Richard B. Finnegan, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781581152388
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Edition description: Expanded
  • Pages: 194
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence LeShan is a psychologist, educator, and author or co-author of eleven books, including The Psychology of War; The Medium, The Mystic, and The Physicist (both with Helios Press); and the popular How to Meditate. He has worked as clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and researcher for more than 50 years, including six years of psychological service in the U.S. Army. He holds a M. S. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago and has taught at Roosevelt University, Pace College, and the New School for Social Research, among other. He has lectured extensively in Europe, the United States, and Israel, and his books have been translated into eleven languages. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 The Human Attraction to War 21
2 War and the Perception of Reality 33
3 Alternate Realities and Human Behavior 43
4 Mythic and Sensory Wars 59
5 War and the Psychological Needs of the Individual 71
6 War and Governmental Behavior 99
7 A Beginning 107
Appendix: A Classification System for Self-Destructive Behaviors 127
Notes 143
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