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Dissertation Title:

Reigniting The Psychological Dimensions of the Shadow Side of War


Brandon Jacob Hill

Date, Time & Place:

August 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm
Room B, Ladera Lane campus


Objective: In this study the researcher examined the psychological mindset of men who have killed in combat and specifically the mental process that allowed them to do so. Additionally, this study examines killing from a Jungian perspective. Method: Grounded Theory Method provided the structure to examine ten written accounts of men who experienced combat and killed during those experiences. Examination of each account included reviewing a psychological understanding of a kill and coding specific acts of killing into larger themes on killing. Finally, themes of killing were placed into categories that then created a theory on how a person is able to kill in combat. Results: The accounts revealed a mental process that utilizes behavior that was categorized as desensitization of killing, permission, internal or external, dehumanization of the enemy, and justification of one’s actions. Each category provided mental support for killing in combat. Thus making lethal decisions was permissible as the servicemember exercised these categories. Conclusions: The process of killing seems to involve, from a Jungian angle, a masculine protective energy, which furthers the need to kill for the sake of others. Bloodlust, murder, and reckless slaughter were absent from these accounts. The men who killed in these wars did so with focus, purpose, and control. Further exploration is needed for different methods of killing as well as how killing affects gender.


Please note parking is available on the Ladera Lane campus. Shuttle service is not available.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, Track OP, 2009
  • Chair: Dr. Aaron Kipnis
  • Reader: Dr. Mark Montijo
  • External Reader: Dr. Michael Seabaugh
  • Keywords: