خودکشی، تعامل اجتماعی و مردسالاری در ارتش ایالات متحده
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|36307||2012||7 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Social Science & Medicine, Volume 74, Issue 4, February 2012, Pages 530–536
Reports indicate that suicide in the U.S. military has increased significantly in recent years. This increase has been attributed to a number of factors, including more frequent deployments, more relaxed screening of recruits, combat trauma, economic difficulty amongst soldiers, and the breakdown of interpersonal relationships. In this article, we add an element that we believe is crucial to an understanding of military suicide: the socio-cultural environment of the military itself. In particular, we examine the role that the masculine ideologies governing military life play in the internalization of individual frustrations and in suicidal behavior. Suicide investigators often have ignored the role of masculine ideologies in military suicide because of the assumption that suicide results from social disintegration. In contrast, we argue that military suicide is driven largely by excessive social integration. From this perspective, current explanations of military suicide are constrained by gender and etiological assumptions. Finally, this paper suggests the implications of these findings for designing more effective prevention programs for military suicide.
In 2006, the U.S. Army suicide rate rose to 17.5 suicides per 100,000 active-duty soldiers (Jelinek, 2007). This figure surpassed the previous record of 15.8 per 100,000 in 1985 (Associated Press, 2006) to become the highest annual suicide rate since the Army began tabulating statistics in 1980 (Jelinek, 2007). This record-high figure was not an aberration. Army suicides had risen steadily since 2002 (Associated Press, 2006 and Martinez, 2003) and would continue to rise after 2006, with each subsequent year establishing a new record suicide rate: 18.1 per 100,000 in 2007 (Alvarez, 2008) and 20.2 per 100,000 in 2008 (Alvarez, 2009). In 2009, 160 soldiers took their lives, bringing the suicide rate up to 21.7 per 100,000, another record-high (Kovach, 2010 and Thompson, 2010). The rise in the suicide rate among active-duty soldiers is not limited to the Army. The Air Force suicide rate rose to 13.7 per 100,000 in 2009 from 12.5 in 2008 (Spoth, 2010). The Navy rate increased from 11.6 per 100,000 in 2008 (Faram, 2009) to 14.5 per 100,000 last year (Spoth, 2010). The suicide rate among active-duty Marines rose to 24 per 100,000 in 2009, up from 21.7 per 100,000 the previous year (Kovach, 2010). The higher rates of suicide among the Army and Marines have been attributed to these branches being significantly more involved in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan (Carden, 2010); this combat situation notwithstanding, suicide rates have historically been highly comparable across branches (Eaton, Messer, Wilson, & Hoge, 2006) and, indeed, have consistently risen across all branches over the past four years (Carden, 2010). The relative uniformity of these increases has led the military to view suicide as a problem that affects all branches of the armed services. In the words of Mike Mullen, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “This isn’t just a ground-force problem” (Carden, 2010). These increases in military suicide rates have been striking, even given the notorious difficulties in determining accurate statistics for military suicide. First, suicides among military personnel are frequently misclassified as deaths from accidents or undetermined causes; such classification errors may lead military suicide totals to be as much as 21% higher than reported ( Carr, Hoge, Gardner, & Potter, 2004, p. 233). Second, accurate civilian and military population comparisons require adjusting statistics to account for the military’s disproportionately large population of young adult males. Such adjustment can strikingly lower the difference between military and civilian populations: Eaton et al. (2006, p. 187) argue, using demographically adjusted statistics, that between 1990 and 2000, figures for military suicide were 20% lower than civilian totals (approximately 12 per 100,000 for the civilian population, while under 10 for all branches of the military). Such adjustments likewise lower the difference between current military and civilian rates: Alvarez (2009) reports that the adjusted rate of civilian suicide is 19.2 per 100,000, a total that, while still notably lower than current Army and Marine rates, would remain higher than rates in the Navy and Air Force. However, regardless of these difficulties, rates of military suicide have consistently and dramatically risen in recent years while civilian totals have remained relatively stable at around 11 per 100,000 (McIntosh, 2009 and Thompson, 2010). These increases in military suicide rates have led a number of experts and commentators to refer to military suicide as a “hidden epidemic” (Sklar, 2007). The origins of this epidemic have proven difficult to detect.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this article, we have argued that social integration into the military’s fatalistic masculinity is a key factor in the currently high rates of military suicide. The components of this conclusion are, by themselves, neither novel nor controversial. Suicidologists have called for more attention to the socio-cultural dimensions of self-killing (Canetto, 2008). Fatalistic social integration has been linked to previously high rates of suicide in the military, as well as other population groups. And scholars of the military have emphasized the fatalistic aspects of military masculinity. This paper goes further by explicitly connecting integration into the military’s masculine social norms to suicide. We believe that this gender analysis can contribute significantly to understanding military suicide and designing more effective suicide prevention interventions. As we mentioned earlier, a number of explanations have been offered for the currently high rates of military suicide, including: longer and more frequent deployments, less rigorous screening of incoming troops, economic difficulties, marital (and more generally relational) problems, and combat trauma (Alvarez, 2009, Goode, 2009 and Stewart, 2009). While these risk factors have been considered in relative isolation from one another, a gender analysis reveals how they may be connected to the military’s masculine culture. For example, the stigmatization of trauma and mental health care in the military may be tied to a philosophy of masculine self-reliance and emotional detachment (Whitworth, 2008). These same values may impair the ability of soldiers to retain romantic relationships, possibly even heightening their potential for abuse (Harrison, 2003). Military masculinity could lead soldiers to internalize their frustration at their economic difficulties, even as it discourages them from seeking potentially life-saving psychological health. More frequent deployments might only worsen these factors by heightening soldiers’ integration into the military’s fatalistic gender identity. Our gender analysis of military suicide thus complements and deepens other studies by illustrating how risk factors that previously had been considered in isolation are connected to the military’s gendered socialization practices. A gender approach also illuminates the social nature of individual psychodynamics. In an insightful paper, Anestis, Bryan, Cornette, and Joiner (2009) argue that suicidal ideation among post-deployment soldiers is determined in large part by the individual’s sense of thwarted belonging in communal life as well as his or her impression of being a burden on others. In the case studies they discuss, this “thwarted belongingness” (Anestis et al., 2009, p. 66) was related to difficulties that soldiers faced communicating their emotionally-charged combat experiences to others. As such, it may have been influenced not only by the experience of combat, but also by the emotional detachment characteristic of military masculinity (Ben-Ari, 1998, Goldstein, 2001 and Harrison, 2003). Similarly, the tendency to view oneself as a burden could be intensified by integration into a social group that, as Ben-Ari (1998, p. 112) has pointed out, is predicated on the subordination of the individual to the community. Effective suicide prevention interventions should be attuned to the social and gendered nature of the psychological traits that place individuals at risk for suicide. Ignoring such social and gender context could be disastrous. We are particularly concerned with the Army’s recently adopted program to curb its escalating suicide rate. In August 2009, the Army announced that it planned to have all 1.1 million of its soldiers take an intensive course designed to increase their mental and emotional resilience (Carey, 2009). Named the “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program,” the course is based on the research of University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman, whose school of “Positive Psychology” teaches individuals to react to negative stimuli in positive and empowering ways (Carey, 2009 and Dinges and Mueller, 2009). Seligman describes the program as an attempt to change trauma from an experience that destroys the self into one that fortifies it. “The idea here,” according to Seligman, “is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth” (Carey, 2009). By teaching soldiers to have a positive response to trauma, the military aims to reduce suicide rates. But such an approach may have unintended consequences. As Ehrenreich (2009) has recently noted, Positive Psychology is predicated on two related understandings of “positive” emotions, such as happiness. First, it argues that having a positive emotional disposition will improve individual health and decrease the traumatic effects of life experiences. Second, it asserts that such positive dispositions are within the individual’s control; therefore, traumatic reactions are not the product of circumstances, which “play only a minor role in determining a person’s happiness” (Ehrenreich, 2009, p. 171), but rather of the individual’s own temperament. By changing this temperament, trauma can be greatly reduced, independent of life circumstances. Our concern with the application of Positive Psychology to a military population is that it may inadvertently reinforce the most fatalistic aspects of military life. Like masculine fatalism, Positive Psychology is predicated on the practice of rigid emotional control. Rather than giving soldiers a richer vocabulary to explore their trauma, Positive Psychology teaches traumatized individuals to deny their trauma. The implication of this method is to pathologize not only traumatic life circumstances, but also negative responses to these circumstances. By pathologizing traumatic responses, Positive Psychology may deny individuals the legitimate mourning process that follows traumatic loss ( Dobbs, 2009, Horwitz and Wakefield, 2007 and Kushner, 1991). Furthermore, through its view that emotional response is not contingent on circumstance, but on individual disposition, Positive Psychology may stigmatize those individuals who are traumatized and are incapable of willing themselves out of their trauma through optimistic self-fashioning. From this perspective Positive Psychology reinforces the very stigmatization of trauma characteristic of military masculinity ( Whitworth, 2008) and potentially pathologizes those most in need of help. It may also encourage them to pathologize themselves. Positive Psychology teaches individuals that they, ultimately, are responsible for their emotional response. But, as we have argued, the fatalistic structure of military masculinity is itself predicated on this same notion of emotional self-control. This ideology of self-control may be what leads many soldiers to internalize their aggression when faced with adverse circumstances. One such circumstance may be the failure to respond to a therapy that suggests that traumatic mourning is a result of the individual’s own failure at emotional control. In a military population already prone to internalized rage, Positive Psychology may lead traumatized soldiers to castigate themselves for what, in reality, may be the shortcomings of the therapeutic technique. It could thus reinforce the emotional control and internalization of frustration that are characteristic of the masculine fatalism that informs military suicide. While the Army’s suicide prevention program may aim to “build better warriors” (Dinges & Mueller, 2009) by not taking a more critical stance toward the warrior ethos itself, it may subvert its goal of encouraging emotional resilience. A reformulation of the warrior ethos is both possible and necessary. The military has relied on masculine ideologies to generate social cohesion, but social cohesion can be encouraged in other, less risky ways. The fatalistic control characteristic of military masculinity can easily produce the opposite effect: Teaching individuals to suppress their emotions can lead to violent emotional outbursts. The devaluation of individual life necessary to form a community based on altruistic self-sacrifice can encourage suicidal behavior that destroys social cohesion. Rethinking the fatalistic aspects of military masculinity will require fundamental changes in the military, but such changes will not be the end of the military. They are steps toward a military that is stronger because of its sensitivity to those in its ranks.