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On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society is a book by Lt.Col. Dave Grossman exploring the psychology of the act of killing and the military and law enforcement establishments' attempt to understand and deal with the consequences of killing.

The book is heavily based on SLA Marshall's studies from WWII, which proposed that contrary to popular perception, the majority of soldiers in war do not ever fire their weapons and that this is due to an innate resistance to killing. Based on Marshall's studies the military instituted training measures to break down this resistance and successfully raised soldier's firing rates to over ninety percent during the war in Vietnam.

Grossman however points out that there are great psychological costs that weigh heavily on the combat soldier or police officer who kills if he is not mentally prepared for what may happen; if his actions (killing) are not supported by his commanders and/or his peers; and if he/she is unable to justify his/her actions (or if no one else justifies the actions for him/her).

See also


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