Sebastian Junger's new book is Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.
From his Q & A with Adam Linehan for Task & Purpose:
Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard a lot of American veterans express interest in flying to Iraq to join the fight against ISIS as civilian volunteers. Quite a few of them have. Why do you think some combat veterans miss the battlefield? Why do they volunteer to go back?--Marshal Zeringue
The demands of combat on the human mind and body are extraordinary. Human likes functioning at an extraordinary level. They love it. And so I think it’s very hard to find a job back home that requires you to function at the level that combat requires. The stakes are life and death. In other words, they’re the highest stakes possible. There’s a huge amount of adrenalin, and the requirement of very intense interpersonal commitment and bonding with other people — all those things produce just a cocktail of pleasurable endorphins and hormones in the bloodstream. All these things really feel good to the human brain. So it’s very, very hard to find a job that reproduces that feeling in the civilian world.
Do you think people can become addicted to combat?
I don’t think the chemical reactions to adrenaline rival those of synthetic drugs — cocaine, stuff like that. When you use the word addiction, you’re really talking about a chemical dependency. I don’t think anyone is chemically dependent on adrenaline. I think...[read on]