Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sebastian Junger

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?

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]
--Marshal Zeringue