War and Redemption : Treatment and Recovery in Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder book cover
1st Edition

War and Redemption
Treatment and Recovery in Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

ISBN 9780367604516
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

Much has rightly been written about the physiological and psychological symptoms, known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffered by combat veterans, and their treatment. Much less has been written about the moral, spiritual and existential pain that soldiers experience as a consequence of carrying through the stated purpose of war for the common soldier - kill the enemy until the war is won. Based on his 20+ years' experience of treating combat veterans, Dr Larry Dewey explores the war trauma and life adaptation of combatants over two decades of intensive treatment. He addresses moral, spiritual and existential issues while also attending to the important physiological and psychological symptoms. Using case material, thoughts, experiences and, literally, the words of 65 veterans of various wars, he portrays in depth and with meaningful detail the process of successful treatment and the eventual positive adaptation for these veterans. The volume explores the deep pain and burden of killing and the role of propaganda and love in starting and maintaining war. Through the veterans' stories the author portrays the personal war of the ordinary combatant and the burden of guilt, grief and pain they often carry afterwards. The second part tackles the actual healing process, and part three explores the concepts of sin, confession, mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love, and how veterans have used them in aiding their own recovery from war's grief and moral pain. War and Redemption provides an invaluable tool in the understanding and treatment of PTSD for therapists, veterans and their families. It will also be a fascinating and valuable resource for all those interested in PTSD more generally.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part I: The Descent into Hell: The burden of killing; How propaganda and love make war possible; The trauma of war and the emotional cost to the common men who fight it; The burden of 'breaking the Geneva Convention of the soul'; The rules of fear. Part II: What Vets Have Taught Me About Effective Treatment: 'It helps to tell the story - but it's hard'; Grief and grieving; Understanding conditioned responses; The therapeutic reunion; 'Keeping the demons at bay': sharing and support and 'working through' in group therapy; Humor; Sleep and medication; The 'antidote experience' and its use in therapy. Part III: The Hope of Redemption: Having the courage to face the truth and being willing to take corrective action; Mercy, reparative acts and forgiveness; Spiritual connection and recovery; The cure of love: what the world's best copers teach us about living well; Bibliography; Index.

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Larry Dewey is Chief of Psychiatry at the Boise, Idaho Veterans Affairs Medical Center (USA) and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, USA. He has worked with combat veterans and their families in outpatient clinics, support and therapy groups, specialized treatment programs, and inpatient units for over twenty years. Veterans treated have included those involved in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Bosnia and Kosovo, and most recently Afghanistan and Iraq. These veterans come from every branch of the service, every rank, and almost every conceivable type of combat experience. Prior to beginning his clinical career with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr Dewey graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1979 and completed his psychiatric fellowship and residency training at Yale in 1983.


’Larry Dewey, MD, has written a gripping and insightful narrative of combat trauma, and the deep and lasting emotional wounds caused by the horrors of war. Immersing himself in the therapy and lives of combat veterans of WW II, Korea and Vietnam, Dr Dewey accurately and compassionately describes the causes and painstaking treatments of their terrors, grief and spiritual devastation. Most importantly, he provides hope that these tormented heroes can achieve some peace and a  better quality of life through therapeutic interactions with fellow veterans, supportive family members, and knowledgeable therapists; meaningful activities in their communities; and skilled use of psychotropic medications. This superb book should be mandatory reading for clinicians providing care to veterans, for family and friends of those men and women who must pick up their lives after returning from combat, and for the general reader with the courage to encounter the overwhelmingly traumatic experience of war and its bitter psychiatric consequences.’ Professor Murray A. Raskind, University of Washington, USA ’Dr Dewey teaches us how to treat combat veterans by chronicling his own learning in listening to his patients...over the last 20 years. He uses case material and extensively shares with us the personal memories and vivid, often horrific stories of his patients in combat as a powerful teaching tool...A "must read"...’ Rodney R. Baker, Mental Health Director, San Antonio VA Hospital, USA ’...a vivid and socially sensitive account of the experience of combat veterans and the emotional wounds that arise as a result of the horrors of war...’ Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy