Colored by the popular and official mythologies of heroism, the accepted view of mental collapse during combat is that it is a fairly rare occurrence that can be attributed to psychological weakness or simple cowardice. With the advent of each new generation of weapons, however, this view becomes less tenable. The increasingly lethal battlefields of conventional warfare have sharply escalated the numbers of psychiatric casualties, which reached staggering proportions worldwide by the early 1980s. Professor Gabriel, a leading authority on military psychiatry, provides the first systematic examination of the problem, its history and current dimension, the systems developed by the superpowers to counter it, and the far-reaching implications of our continued acceptance of warfare under radically altered conditions.
RICHARD A. GABRIEL, Professor of Political Science at Saint Anselm College, is a well-known scholar in the field of contemporary military affairs.