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What Makes a Soldier? What Breaks a Soldier?

Dr. Hector Garcia

Hector Garcia is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Health Administration specializing in the treatment of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He has published extensively on the treatment of PTSD in combat veterans, masculine identity in the aftermath of war, stress and rank in organizations, and the interplay between religious practice and psychopathology.

He is the author of “Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression“, and his TED talk about training soldiers to return home from combat has racked up over 1 million views.

In today’s episode we discuss the evolutionary psychology of warfare, how the combat theater mirrors the environment of early humans, common causes of PTSD in a military context, and the evolutionary justifications for viewing PTSD as an adaptive survival strategy.

We also explore what aspects of the military experience make it difficult for veterans to return to civilian life, what separates veterans who settle back into peacetime environments from those who don’t, and, in light of Hector’s TED talk, after training soldiers go to war, we ask how do we train them to come home again?

 

Related Links

Hector-Garcia.com – Hector’s website

Video of violent chimpanzee attack on a neighbouring troop – YouTube

About Face – A video gallery of veterans, their family members and clinicians talking in their own words about how treatment for PTSD helps

PTSD Consultation Program (US) – A free service available to any healthcare provider treating veterans, including providers outside of the VA

Book Recommendations

                                   

Image courtesy: The U.S Army (Spc. Breanne Pye)

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