Attrition: Violent Video Games Cure Combat Stress

Archives

August 8, 2007: U.S. Army medical researchers have noted that soldiers that play violent video games, are better able to handle the stress of combat. More elaborate (virtual reality) combat simulations are now being used to treat combat veterans who are suffering from severe stress reactions from combat (PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder).

The U.S. Army has been studying combat fatigue (or PTSD) a lot more these days. Currently, about 400 soldiers a year are sent home from Iraq because of severe PTSD, and thousands have less serious bouts of PTSD, which are treated in Iraq, with the soldier soon returning to duty.

What the army is up against is something they discovered during World War II. Back then, PTSD was called combat fatigue, and it was a serious problem. In the European Theater, 25 percent of all casualties were serious PTSD cases. In the Pacific Theater, the rate varied widely, depending on the campaign. In some of the most intense fighting, like Okinawa in 1945, it accounted for over a third of all wounded.

Israel has done a lot of work in finding new ways to diagnose PTSD, and has also noted the video game effect. Researchers are using a more realistic virtual reality type system to enable patients to relive the combat situations that triggered the PTSD, and learn to cope with it.

This may all sound counterintuitive, and that's what outsiders (including some journalists) thought when they first came across combat troops playing violent video games to unwind after a day in combat. When asked, the troops generally shrugged and commented along the lines of, "it relaxes me." A military historian would point out that, in the past, troops often sought out violent, or stressful, entertainments when given some respite from combat. During the World Wars, troops on leave would, after getting cleaned up and sleeping for twelve hours,would go gamble, or engage in team sports. They were looking for some excitement. Farther back in history, a little hunting, or looting (or worse) was always popular between battles.

It's another case of something, that's been around for a long time, getting noticed, and put to use more deliberately and aggressively.

 


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close