The First Ambush: Hijacking the Human Brain

‘Unbeknown to me at the time, the army’s training and/or indoctrination would come to shape my life, my decisions and my neurological processes for years to come. I suppose at the time we took it all in our stride and laughed it off. But we as people and in particular our brains were being prepared for the inhuman rigours and demands of traditional war fighting, closing with and engaging the enemy and by extension modern international conflicts’ – Ryan Hall, British infantry, 2000-2008

A major new report has just been published drawing on veterans’ testimony and around 200 studies from the last half-century to explore for the first time the effects of modern army employment on soldiers, particularly their initial training. The studies are mainly the work of military academic research departments in the UK and US, supplemented by research in other countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, and Norway. The report finds that army employment has a significant detrimental impact on soldiers’ attitudes, health, behaviour, and financial prospects. This is partly due to soldiers’ war experiences, but also to how they are recruited and trained, how they are conditioned by military culture, and how they re-adjust to civilian life afterwards.

It reveals how in the process of transforming civilians into soldiers, army training and culture forcibly alter recruits’ attitudes under conditions of sustained stress, leading to harmful health effects even before they are sent to war. Among the consequences are elevated rates of mental health problems, heavy drinking, violent behaviour, and unemployment after discharge, as well as poorer general health in later life.

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Alan Corbett

Posted on Jan 19, 2017

Dr. Alan Corbett: A Man Enormously Loved

By Professor Brett Kahr

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Christmas of 2016 proved to be a very heavy-hearted one for literally hundreds, if not thousands, of mental health professionals around the world, who have had to mourn the loss of our dear, dear friend Alan Corbett, who has died at far too early an age.

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Addressing the Gap Between the Psychological Needs of Children and the Services Provided

In a world where the torture, maltreatment, and neglect of children shamefully persist, it is incumbent upon all of us to intervene appropriately to put a stop to it – whether in refugee and displaced camps, conference rooms, or through developing more comprehensive campaigns and policies to hold perpetrators accountable (whether governments or rebels opposing governments), or indeed working in clinics where traumatised children and their families seek help. The manner in which we act to improve the opportunity for recovery in children and young people subjected to torture and other inhumane violent treatment should be our primary concern.

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How Society Shapes Who We Are

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The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.

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Breaking the Silence

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There is internationally the deep power of music, dance, and art with all the meta-understandings and meaning that come from them. However, our species depends on speech, on a voice to communicate. If a baby’s cry did not resonate at a profound level, the baby would die, incapable of attending to its needs. We are constructed in a relational way, primed to hear and be heard. All around the world we are still dealing with the generational pain which was transmitted when a culture developed in which “children should be seen and not heard”, where the unmet need of wounded adults meant there was no space for the actual child. And all around the world we are witnessing groups who cannot bear to hear the pain of others. Subjects are turned into objects by silencing them, not allowing them a voice. Sometimes “the other” is a child, sometimes the other is defined by gender, race, religion, sexuality, class, or politics.

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Challenging the Myths Surrounding Sexual Abuse and Sexual Offenders

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There are few crimes which evoke more horror and loathing than sexual abuse, especially when the victim is a child. Yet in the late 1960s, when I first began a residency in psychiatry, there were also no established evaluation and treatment programs for the sexual offender.

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Depositing, Transgenerational Transmission, Dissociation  and Remembering through Action

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As a psychoanalyst, I have been actively involved in international relations since 1979 and have visited many areas where wars and war-like situations existed just prior to my visits or even during my visits. I observed children with or without parents in such locations, places like South Ossetia and Kuwait. I also participated in projects designed to help children traumatized by wars or war-like conditions, and last year I was invited to a meeting in France to deliver a paper on the children of war with whom I had worked. 

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Retrieval, Recovery, and Renewal

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“What have we done to you – poor child?”- Sigmund Freud (1897)

There is an important irony in psychoanalysis that our book, Analysis of the Incest Trauma: Retrieval, Recovery, Renewal, attempts to address.

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Trauma and Attachment

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Going beneath the skin of the contemporary fascination with serial killers: the Allure of Power, Control, Dominance

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‘I hadn’t started out per se to ‘study’ serial murderers, now many years ago.  I was doing neurological research on the NASA Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.  Increasingly I was becoming interested in neuropathology of primitive personalities.  In biochemistry we go to the molecular structure of a compound to see what its chemical signature is composed of.  What then was the signature of what may be the most primitive form of man; who represented man at his serially worst: A murderer who killed for seemingly pleasurable gain and who used power, control and dominance, as a way of torturing his victims before he murdered them.  In those days the term ‘serial killer’ was not yet in the public sector as it resides today nor did the idea of a serial killer carry the current voyeuristic allure.

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The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

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Years ago I started writing a novel in which a recently retired psychoanalyst is interviewed by a young post-graduate psychologist about his life and experiences. I wrote 25,000 words before I realised that I was writing about my own experiences. This then morphed into my memoir.

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Within the broader world of psychology and clinical psychology, neuropsychology has had a reputation for being overly academic and assessment-focussed. When I joined the profession over twenty years ago, we had our elegant models of cognitive function and dysfunction, and the neurologists and GPs could expect long and complex neuropsychological assessments from us, which pin-pointed areas of difficulty. However, a casual observer might rightly wonder aloud, ‘So what? How does this help the distressed patient and their family?’

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We’re teaching our kids not how to Remember, but how to Kill

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Introduction

Why should we study killing? One might just as readily ask, Why study sex? The two questions have much in common. Every society has a blind spot, an area into which it has great difficulty looking. Today that blind spot is killing. A century ago it was sex.

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How Mind Control Programming is Accomplished and How it Works

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White Witch in a Black Robe: A True Story of Criminal Mind Control brings to light an undercurrent in society that a minority know about, many don’t want to know about, and the majority are unaware of. 

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The Tragedy of Crookham Court School

In 1969 Ian Mucklejohn went as a supply teacher to Crookham Court School, a private boys’ school in Berkshire, where he kept a diary of its eccentricities and odd characters. But it became clear that these peculiarities disguised a sinister undercurrent. Years later, he helped to expose one of the biggest scandals in modern British education, as evidence emerged of the sexual abuse by teachers of dozens of boys at the school. He writes here about the book recounting how the abuse came to light and the lessons that need to be learned. 

 

Crookham-2-005 (2)‘How’ I asked a Norwegian client last summer, ‘can Norway exist as the incredibly open society it is?’  I asked because, within a minute of tapping his name into a search engine, I had discovered not only a Norwegian enquirer’s full address, but also his landline number, his mobile number, his date of birth, his wife’s name and date of birth, his salary, the tax he paid and what that tax was spent on.  My client looked me in the eye.  ‘I think,’ he mused ‘It’s because we trust each other.’

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How early traumatic experiences, and our primitive responses to them, become embedded in our personalities

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We live in fascinating times, where recent advances in trauma theory, attachment theory, relational psychoanalysis, and infant research not only allow us, but require us, to revisit and reconsider the fundamental tenets of our theory and practice.

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Moralizing Evil

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Are we headed toward human extinction?  All inhabited continents are engaged in military conflict, and there is no foreseeable end in sight.  World superpowers, rogue nations, and international politics fuel existing warfare, leading to repetitive cycles of death, despair, transgenerational trauma, and systemic ruin. 

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The Therapist as Therapon: A Healing Sancho Panzo

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The success of Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote - reputed to be the second bestselling book after the Bible - is no doubt due in large part to the author’s remarkable skill in telling a story, as he puts it, "to fight melancholia". Indeed, the original idea for the eponymous hero first appeared to Cervantes while he was himself imprisoned in Sevilla, on a false accusation - a melancholy experience that triggered memories of a previous traumatic incarceration, when twenty years earlier he had been captured by Barbary pirates (as a soldier fighting against the Ottoman empire) and spent five years as a slave in Algiers.

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