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Weary Warriors

Weary Warriors: Power, Knowledge, and the Invisible Wounds of Soldiers

Pamela Moss
Michael J. Prince
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Weary Warriors
    Book Description:

    As seen in military documents, medical journals, novels, films, television shows, and memoirs, soldiers' invisible wounds are not innate cracks in individual psyches that break under the stress of war. Instead, the generation of weary warriors is caught up in wider social and political networks and institutions-families, activist groups, government bureaucracies, welfare state programs-mediated through a military hierarchy, psychiatry rooted in mind-body sciences, and various cultural constructs of masculinity. This book offers a history of military psychiatry from the American Civil War to the latest Afghanistan conflict. The authors trace the effects of power and knowledge in relation to the emotional and psychological trauma that shapes soldiers' bodies, minds, and souls, developing an extensive account of the emergence, diagnosis, and treatment of soldiers' invisible wounds.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-347-5
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Pamela Moss and Michael J. Prince
  2. Introduction. Weary Warriors Walk among Us: Combat, Knowledge Circulation, and Naming Traumatized Soldiers
    (pp. 1-16)

    Weary warriors are soldiers who have suffered deep emotional distress during combat. Whether in reaction to the din of artillery fire, the stench of a rotting corpse, or the glance of dead comrades after a short skirmish, some soldiers, pushed beyond the edge of emotional constancy, break with soldierly behavior. They rush the enemy, taking admonitions as admiration, earning nicknames of madness. They run away into the cover of trees, wandering for days, forgetting armed encounters. They weep, poised to fire, incapable of pressing the trigger. They collapse, they break, they fall to pieces—sometimes during combat, sometimes on leave,...

  3. Chapter 1 Ravished Minds and III Bodies: Power, Embodiment, Dispositifs
    (pp. 17-33)

    As part of our task to unravel the pathways through which power and knowledge circulate to produce ill soldiers and shape the way ill soldiers experience the trauma of breakdown in combat, we draw on poststructuralist and feminist thinking. Poststructural thinking calls into question fundamental, taken-for-granted concepts, such as power and knowledge, as well as the tangible acts and events shaping everyday life.¹ Poststructuralists invite reflection and critique as ways to engage the concepts used to make sense of the world and also the processes through which the world comes to be the way it is. They do so by...

  4. Chapter 2 Unsettling Notions: War Neuroses, Soldiering, and Broken Embodiments
    (pp. 34-58)

    Soldiers subject themselves and their bodies to a whirlwind of activity when seeking assistance for something that somehow feels broken, or not quite right. Medical interventions begin once a soldier presents to a physician, by choice or sometimes without volition, with bodily sensations that get worked up as symptoms once they are transcribed onto the physician’s notepad. Diagnosis as a practice begins with physicians seeking physical causes for the manifestation of symptoms first and diagnosing war neurosis only when there is no physiological etiology. Once a physician ascribes a specific war neurosis—irritable heart syndrome, battle fatigue, or mild TBI...

  5. Chapter 3 Classifying Bodies through Diagnosis: Knowledges, Locations, and Categorical Enclosures
    (pp. 59-91)

    We now begin following the arc of how soldiers become weary warriors, both in the sense of individual bodies breaking down under the pressures and acts of war and as a group of people having witnessed, endured, and perhaps engaged in inhumane acts. We begin with a discussion of diagnosis, a process through which bodies become marked with a specific category that carries with it a set of meanings generated in many spaces, including the battlefield. In classifying bodies as well as groups of soldiers, psychiatry and the military work together to seek clarity in what they are facing or...

  6. Chapter 4 Managing Illness through Power: Regulation, Resistance, and Truth Games
    (pp. 92-112)

    History tells us there are ill soldiers both falsely and truly. The questions thus arise, Who decides the authenticity and reality of a warrior’s ailments? Is it a military doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist? Is it a senior officer, military court, or review tribunal? Is it the individual’s own body in conjunction with one or more of these other actors? And what do military authorities do about false claims and deviant actions by individuals in the armed forces? We are interested in the issue of the truthfulness of illness or abnormality in combatants with regard to how power and knowledge generate...

  7. Chapter 5 Cultural Accounts of the Soldier as Subject: Folds, Disclosures, and Enactments
    (pp. 113-137)

    Mary Fissell (1991) argues that, in England, the patient’s narrative disappeared as a medicine dominated by competing private practices giving way to a medicine centralized in a hospital setting. In the early part of the eighteenth century, medicine was part of popular culture and (mostly elite) individuals used a wide range of concepts to describe ill bodies and had access to an even wider range of remedies. Because of their lack of control over the “production and consumption” (93) of the circulation of such knowledge, physicians had to fit both their diagnoses and their recommendations for treatment to specific individuals....

  8. Chapter 6 Fixing Soldiers: The Treatment of Bodies, Minds, and Souls
    (pp. 138-160)

    During the Great War, faradization (electroshock therapy) was one of the methods for treating the psychoneuroses of soldiers, an application by physicians of strong electrical currents to different body parts of a weary warrior. As described at the time by a professor in the faculty of medicine in Paris,

    The patient lies absolutely naked on the bed, where he is first treated in the recumbent position, especially in motor affections of the lower limbs. Afterwards, he is treated sitting down, then standing up, walking, running, etc. The apparatus for faradizations supplied to the medical services is the type used; the...

  9. Chapter 7 The Soldier in Context: Psychiatric Practices, Military Imperatives, and Masculine Ideals
    (pp. 161-185)

    In previous chapters we focused on theeffectsof the inter-and intra-actions of various apparatuses. Our understanding of the unfolding of the practice of diagnosis, the policy milieu for veteran benefits, soldiers’ subjectivities, and treatment regimens that it is a fractured, irregular process playing out as a series of discontinuities. Diagnostic practices that classify bodies along the lines of clinical observations disclose how soldiers come to be designated as ill through the systematic application of a power/knowledge formation that holds within a set of values surrounding emotional distress and mental breakdown that tend to be restricting, exclusionary, and debilitating. Recalling...

  10. Chapter 8 Soldiering On: Care of Self, Status Passages, and Citizenship Claims
    (pp. 186-213)

    The psychologically wounded veteran is a major figure in contemporary society. Despite new methods in psychiatric training, popularity of counseling, and transformations in psychiatric care, the matter of soldiering on for the weary warrior after the military campaign and returning home remains a vexing issue of public policy-making around the world. The concept of “soldiering on” commonly refers to perseverance, resolve, determination, and firmness, qualities and actions associated with the ideal image of the masculine fighting soldier. It is often equated with a discourse of returning home and the culturally anticipated processes of overcoming challenges, making adjustments, and getting on...

  11. Chapter 9 Military Bodies and Battles Multiple: Embodied Trauma, Ontological Politics, and Patchwork Warriors
    (pp. 214-228)

    Weary Warriorshas surveyed aspects of a global phenomenon in a historical period that still occupies the world: the age of war neuroses.¹ The persistence of neurotic soldiers as a recurring crisis implicates a bundle of relations having to do with the association between mental health and military capacity through the practices of military psychiatry. Soldiering, and its breakdown, is intimately tied to masculinity, its ideal, and its practices, as well as to the truth games played by soldiers, psychiatrists, scientists, physicians, chaplains, family members, bureaucrats, and politicians. In these crises, at stake are soldiers’ and veterans’ identities, their subjectivities,...