For the Love of Battle
- Appetitive aggression, in which violent excesses are experienced as sensually pleasurable, may occur in war.
- Humans may have evolved an instinct to hunt that arises in combat situations, leading to this apparently pathological behavior.
- The traumas of war change the psyche of soldiers. A deeper understanding of the psychology of violence can help civilians and fighters process such challenging experiences together.
“I really tortured others. At night we went out and raided villages. We killed whomever we saw. If we happened to see a woman, we raped her.... Fighting is all there is in the life of a man. Whenever I hear guns go off, I want nothing more than to fight. This thirst lies deep within me.”
The young man who is describing these unbelievable horrors has a gaunt but friendly face. We are in Goma, a bleak city at the eastern edge of the civil war taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our team of German researchers from the University of Konstanz and an aid organization, called vivo international, sits shivering in our encampment.
This article was originally published with the title An Appetite for Aggression.