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While U.S. military psychiatrists are prescribing increasing amounts of chill pills, America’s psychologists are teaching soldiers how to think more positively about their tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and wherever else they are next ordered to kill the bad guys and win the hearts and minds of everyone else.

While positive psychology makes some sense for teenagers who are catastrophizing their first relationship breakup to the point of becoming suicidal, how much sense does it make to teach soldiers who are trying to stay alive in a war zone to put a positive spin on everything? Moreover, wouldn’t soldiers like their officers to consider worst-case scenarios before ordering them into combat? And wouldn’t soldiers like politicians to take seriously worst-case scenarios before embarking on a war? The healthy option to negative thinking is not positive thinking but critical thinking. Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-sided and astute critic of the dark side of positive thinking and positive psychology, points out:

It’s easy to see positive thinking as a uniquely American form of naïveté, but it is neither uniquely American nor endearingly naïve. In vastly different settings, positive thinking has been a tool of political repression worldwide. . . . In the Soviet Union, as in the Eastern European states and North Korea, the censors required upbeat art, books, and films, meaning upbeat heroes, plots about fulfilling production quotas, and endings promising a glorious revolutionary future. . . .The penalties for negative thinking were real. Not to be positive and optimistic was to be ‘defeatist’. . . . Accusing someone of spreading defeatism condemned him to several years in Stalinist camps.

While the U.S. military has only recently become excited about positive psychology techniques, it has, for the last decade, increasingly used psychiatric drugs to keep soldiers going. One in six service members is now taking at least one psychiatric drug, according to the Navy Times (“Medicating the Military,” March 17, 2010), with many soldiers taking “drug cocktail” combinations. Soldiers and military healthcare providers reportthat psychiatric drugs are “being prescribed, consumed, shared and traded in combat zones.” While soldiers’ increasing use of antidepressants is troubling enough (as the Food and Drug Administration now requires warnings on antidepressants about their increasing the risk of “suicidality” in children, teenagers, and young adults), what’s as or even more worrisome is the increase of other psychiatric drugs. In the last decade, antipsychotic drug use in the U.S. military has increased more than 200 percent, and anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills have increased 170 percent. These kinds of drugs impair motor skills, reduce reaction times, and generally make one more sluggish -- or what soldiers call “stupid,” as the Navy Times notes.
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Comments (38)

I wounder how those numbers compare to the general population. Drug use is not new for warriors. The history of drug use in general is very interesting. And knowing this history, our government thinks the solution is to lock people up in jail as a punishment.

The drugs your talking about are sold for no different reason then street drugs. Profits. It's just one is legal and the other is deemed illegal. I guess it pays to have friends in high places.

Even to this day, from what I understand, our fighter pilots receive basically "meth" or "crank" to keep them alert. In WW2, Germans enjoyed their meth too. I think they may have invented it. Hitler loved it too. One of the reasons his speeches would go on and on and on.
of course after their patents run out on a drug, they have to make a new one for their doctor friends to prescribe.
Does anyone contemplate why the drugs are needed in the first place? Depression, anxiety, insomnia, psychoses. Hello!! Maybe war is not the natural way for humans to interact and solve their differences. When are people going to wake up?!

The drugs are needed more and more because the soldiers are not as easily brainwashed as the old hard core God and country lock step soldiers were. The sheep are beginning to awaken and drugs are the only vehicle the government has to try to stay in power and control. Same with the kids. The school system doesn't know how to handle this new breed of free thinkers so puts labels on them and feeds them paxil and (what's that one for ADD?)...anyway, things are changing and they are changing fast. We all better look around and see what is right before our eyes. JMO
An interesting stat: Only 10-20% of combat US soldiers actually fired their weapons at an enemy target. Seems we had to change that somehow and make them trigger-happy in wars that are more and more dubious. The downside is the mental deterioration.
Forgot to say, in WWII.
i really lough with these.u s army occupies iraq and all the personell over there , knows what they r standing for.
serving a bad and unfair purpose is creating the major psycological problems.if us army had to defent usa ,the problems could have been eliminated.
gear venus the only and trully reason ,we exist on earth face ,is to fight eachother to the end of time.professor cool doh cheers
sorry gear=dearhead banger
I think it's natural for man to fight. Technology changes the way we fight, but again, just look at history. Fighting/war is as common and natural as love.

Animals fight too.

Ritalin miss V. I had a grade school teacher tell me half her class was on the drug and it makes her job a lot easier. Sickening, yet, I can see both sides of the argument. But then I wounder what the long term effects are. I know of a 14 year old girl who takes ritalin, she uses it to suppress her appetite, to be thinner. For real. She didn't tell me directly, but I can tell the way she talks about it. I bet girls talk about it at school too. I just wounder what happens to all these kids on the prescription drugs when they grow up. Like you said miss v, this is something new, with the young kids being on the drugs. And it is so easy to get the drug for the kids. The system is a joke, and the state picks up the bill quite often. Think of the profits and the wealth that has been made with the 'system' pushing these legal drugs. What are the unintended consequences, and long term, what is best.

I had a though the other day about drugs. I wounder if they ever did a study on prescription pain killers, and addicts and what percentage of them were given the "medicine" by doctors first, and in the study look all the way back to into their childhoods.
hi miguel
i hate drugs and any kind of medicine ,as a chemichal producte
i dont even get teh most simpoles like aspirine.i believe that human can selfhealed.just needs to believe on that.
but if i was a chief of an army ,i would never be certain of my men if they were on has two sides u know.u cant always direct people on one direction.their damaged brains can choose another .doh comfort frustrated yay cheers
if they juz thinking in a positive way,,,
Why they cant think of d side effects of those drugs that was given to a n0ne sick soldier?
They must divide the budget for medicati0n n0t to over use those drugs, lot of sick people who needs m0re drugs.... n0t those soldier who were already physically fit and juz need s0me focus in a battle!
Teaching soldiers how to hone their positive thinking in overseas combat zones and even non-combat zones, is a great idea. Many times soliders dont want to leave their families, jobs (if reservists) and it puts a huge strain on anyone emotionally. Half the time, the only thing that gets one through tough times, IS positive thinking.
I was reading a book on civil war(USA) medical treatments. Lots of drawings. Yikes!
Experiments with drugs + other stuff has a long history:

Madeleine Smith, a 28-year-old newscaster, was just one casualty of the ghoulish experiments conducted in the 1950s and early 1960s under Ewen Cameron at McGill University’s Allan Memorial Institute.

The experiments were part of the infamous “MK ULTRA” program conducted under the aegis of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s and 1960s, exposed in media and United States Congressional hearings in the 1970s. Patients were brutalized and maimed with drugs, shocks and lobotomies as Cameron sought a means to “depattern” and “re-program” the human mind. Canadian survivors still able to seek reparation finally obtained some compensation from the U.S. government in 1988.

Naomi Klein in Shock Therapy says same techniques are used to this day in Guantanamo and other black sites.
Dead, let me guess, you just watched the movie, 'Men who stare at goats?' laugh
uh oh
No, but I read A wild sheep chase grin
Also, were you aware that many of the casualties of war are due to fratricide, and not enemies? I think the focus needs to be on proper training, and this positive thinking mess sounds like a good option also.
u still making me laughing.i mean u americans.
if u have no soldiers capable to fight ,return home and stay there.if u think that hi soph guns can win every war ,u r wrong as usually.u r in the middle of a new vietnam ,cause ur useless generals forgot the basical principal of the war.if u need a ground ,only infanty can keep airplanes or missiles or satelittes.only the infantry and ofcourse the one with clean mind not the jankies.doh yay cheers
u kn0w what?
I juz n0ticed all countries that u mention here
Like s0viet union,n0rth korea and EUS,
They r all have those massive weap0ns like nuclear bomb??
In a psychological theory are those people implementing that in a world at started in a war should end also by war???
u kn0w what?
I juz n0ticed all countries that u mention here
Like s0viet union,n0rth korea and EUS,
They r all have those massive weap0ns like nuclear bomb??
In a psychological theory are those people implementing that in a world at started in a war should end also by war???
The problem with positive thinking is that's delusional and false. When you see your pals or civilians getting killed or maimed fighting wars for wrong reasons, when you see war in all its gory dehumanizing dimensions, you can't help but be disgusted.
thats right,u need a high motivation to start and keep fighting.this is what i call tunning.rolling on the floor laughing grin cheers
Well the only solution or compromise I can see then, is every army has to have a cook. Dead you can be the cook. Because war is, does, and will be. And it takes warriors to win these battles that have had to have been, and are, and will be. And the warriors must be able to over come the reality of what you are saying. How can you sit there and argue that position when everyone knows all 6 billion of us will never agree to what your saying. Best case scenario, maybe somewhere off in the future, but unlikely and even so, we have to deal with the now. And right now at his moment, people want to kill us, you and me and everyone they don't like. Real murderers trying to get their hands on your throat. Just be thankful people have reasons and found ways to do those terrible things to other people and watch their brothers die but not loose focus on the bigger picture, protecting you, me, them and our families. No?
mike they can protect u just fine staying on usa's soil.they didnt have to kill half a million iraquis for "protecting"ur ars buddy. from chemichal wapons only cia saw???
killing moe people u can only make ur enemies number to increase.
confused peace
alfi, it's a game of chess. You have to think many moves into the future. Action and loss now, to prevent bigger loss in the future. Just like a chess game move can be.
my friend i am a fun of militairy history throu the centuries.
yes for the useless generals of ur army and ur sold to their supporters politicains is chess.but i f u r a leader of some men and see them killed forthe next chees move,u 'd think a little diff.if u the brother of a dead fo nothing soldier or a wife ,or child or or or ,try to explaine ur chess games.make sure u run very very fast rolling on the floor laughing confused frustrated doh cheers
Mike, I respect your opinion. Our only difference is you think the war is to counter terrorism, and I think the war is really about profit, with drugs or terrorism the advertised reason.
A profit of drugs...etc..
OF WHO?? You?
Juz ask,
Why r u so affected of this army wars of ur country?
U cant do anything to change the system....
We r all juz viewers of this war scene!
So cøol...
I'll send a beer over there!
Dead, I think you are forgetting that we currently have a volunteer army. I did not serve in the war overseas, but I was on orders to. I did however deploy to a remote area in Korea, where we lived in a tent city that we built during monsoon season. I will tell you, positive thinking was about one of the few things that got me through that experience, and had I known more about it first hand, it would have made it easier.

I am not sure what you mean by the statement 'positive thinking is false and delusional'
dead Then your talking conspiracy. I have no knowledge of that. But I do have knowledge of 911. I do know people hate us that much, and I do know there are plenty more of them out there. Exterminate them one by one if that's what it takes. Conspiracies have a certain draw to them, but I need proof. I don't buy that it's that easy to keep so many people sworn to secrecy, that would be need to pull it off. Watching too many movies maybe?

The real enemy is apathy and entitlement.
Maybe you should write about "tent city".dunno
Its human nature, to want to attack and belittle the nation sitting at the 'top' if you will. That is the reason for wars. To maintain power and status. The politics is what corrupts it all. Many other countries get jealous or spiteful that they are not dominant, and do everything they can to perpetuate consipiracy theories and cause retaliation.
Drea... this is too simplistic. Check out this for 9/11:


The first one was conducted in August 2004, on the eve of a Republican National Convention, on 808 randomly-selected residents of New York State. It found that 49 percent of New York City residents and 41 percent of New York state citizens believe individuals within the US government "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act". The margin of error for this poll was 3.5 percent.

The second major Zogby poll on 9/11 was conducted in May 2006. It was a telephone interview of 1,200 randomly-selected adults from across the United States, consisting of 81 questions, with a 2.9 percent margin of error. Some of the questions asked include the following:

"Some people believe that the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks, saying there has been a cover-up. Others say that the 9/11 Commission was a bi-partisan group of honest and well-respected people and that there is no reason they would want to cover-up anything. Who are you more likely to agree with?"

Responses: 48% No Cover-up / 42% Cover-up / 10% Not sure
And don't tell me all those people are anti-American
I have no idea about conspiracies but I put nothing past our government. Look at the further implementation of "big brother" since 9/11. Not too far fetched.

Mike, recorded history only goes back, what, 12,000 years? How can you say that war has always been a part of the human experience? No one knows that.
Yes dead, interesting, but, decieving. I took a statistics 2 class that taught me all about how they come up with those figures, in the 'polls.' When they say 'randomly selected' there really is no 'true' way to randomly select a population. Its all based upon the agenda of the poll creator. So, yes, of course if you poll an area with a high population of democrats, like NY, and pose yes/no only questions, of course the data will be skewed in such a way to benefit the purpose of the poll. Also, results are largely dependent upon the way the questions are asked...meaning, typically they can pose the questions in a yes/no only format, so those that really are torn or stand somewhere in the middle, are forced to pick one way or the other.

The truth is, the majority of the general public doesnt know much, if anything about politics and conspiracies....except from what they hear on the news. And we all know this is biased to no end.

In my mind, the only people that have a true right to claim any sort of conspiracy theory, are those in politics. And even then, thats hairy. How can anyone claim conspiracies without first hand knowledge? Sure, we can read all sorts of right wing or left wing books, but does that mean they are true?
Ok, you don't believe in statistics... fine. People have been curious to know how WTC 7 collapsed on it's own footprint at near free fall speed; the official investigation gives no reasons. Or how the passport of the hijacker survived the inferno and landed in perfect condition at a nearby street. Or why the highly unusual amount of put options on the stocks of the airline companies just before the event. And many other such little facts that it's hard if not impossible to explain.
Dead, trust me I know where you are coming from. There are plenty of things in government and politics that simply dont add up. But to generalize the reason for a war based on some widespread conspiracy theory, to me, is wrong thinking. Did you ever wonder or think that perhaps people start these theories as distractions to what is really going on? There are so many things in the government hidden and kept under wraps, and people start speculating. I do believe in statistics, but, to a very small extent. It is just now that I take them mostly with a grain of salt, because I conducted a statistical experiment on my own and I found it very intriguing how I could slightly skew the data one way or another, to appease different groups of people. And Im talking about the same dataset, that was for one intended purpose. One outlier can skew the data big time, and usually those are removed.

Anyway, what Im getting at here is that the government often banks on the ignorance of the normal population, to spread any agenda they see fit at the time. During any war/pre-war, consipiracy theories will rise. The way I see it, is if we didnt have people or military protecting our rights, our country would not be the way it is right now, or anywhere near as free as it is, because another source of power would come in and take over. Unfortunately, there is a large price to pay, with human lives sometimes.
of course,such happened only in the USA!popcorn
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