Lt. Col. Dave Grossman draws unsettling, even sinister parallels between the psychological conditioning required to make soldiers kill in war and the similar effect that videos, films, games and movies have in civilian society.
Drawing on interviews, published personal accounts and academic studies, Grossman investigates the psychology of killing in combat. Stressing that human beings have a powerful, innate resistance to the taking of life, he examines the techniques developed by the military to overcome that aversion. His provocative study focuses in particular on the Vietnam war, revealing how the American soldier was ``enabled to kill to a far greater degree than any other soldier in history.'' Grossman argues that the breakdown of American society, combined with the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games, is conditioning our children to kill in a manner siimilar to the army's conditioning of soldiers: ``We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the infliction of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it.'' Grossman, a professor of military science at Arkansas State University, has written a study of relevance to a society of escalating violence. (Oct.)