Essay on Dehumanization and Dissociation

1279 Words 6 Pages
The horrors of war have forever caused a mental shift in the people who have returned from it. Changed not only from what they have had to endure, also from what they have inflicted on others in the heat of battle. Dissociation is an altered state of consciousness characterized by partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s normal conscious or psychological functioning (Dell, P. F. & O'Neil, J. A., 2009). Dehumanization is to make somebody less human by taking away his or her individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of his or her personality, or his or her compassion and sensitivity towards others (Zimbardo, 2012). Dehumanization causes troops to be impaired in their capacity to experience …show more content…
Similar American propaganda encouraged the dehumanization of the Japanese and Germans as murderers and monsters. In order for the citizens of one society to hate the citizens of another society to the degree that they want to segregate them, torment them, even to kill them it requires a ‘hostile imagination,’ a psychological construction embedded deeply in their minds by propaganda that transforms those others into “The Enemy” (Zimbardo, 2012). A number of firsthand accounts, including those of American servicemen involved in or witness to the atrocities, attest to the taking of "trophies" from the corpses of Imperial Japanese troops in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Historians have attributed the phenomenon to a campaign of dehumanization of the Japanese in the United States media (Fussell, 1990). The practice was relatively wide spread and accepted throughout society. President Franklin Roosevelt was reportedly gifted a letter opener made out of a human arm bone from a US Congressman. Soldiers would claim teeth and skulls from the dead enemy. United States Marines commonly took ears and attached them to their belts with safety pins, much like Native American fighters taking and displaying scalps, a psychological war tactic meant to demoralize and humiliate the enemy. To be effective combatants, to survive, soldiers had to suppress their feelings, a process psychiatrists call emotional numbing (Tull, 2009). Some soldiers could not cope

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