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Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming

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Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In his acclaimed book Achilles in Vietnam, Dr. Jonathan Shay used the Iliad as a prism through which to examine how ancient and modern wars have battered the psychology of the men who fight. Now he turns his attention to the Odyssey, Homer's classic story of a soldier's homecoming, to illuminate the real problems faced by combat veterans reentering civilian society. Drawing on his years of experience working with Vietnam veterans, Shay illustrates how the Odyssey can be read as a metaphor for the pitfalls that trap many veterans on the road back to civilian life. He also explains how veterans recover, and advocates changes to American military practice that will protect future servicemen and servicewomen while increasing their fighting power.

The Odyssey, Shay argues, offers explicit portrayals of behavior common among returning soldiers in our own culture — danger-seeking, womanizing, explosive violence, drug abuse, visitation by the dead, obsession, vagrancy, and homelessness. Supporting his reading with examples from his fifteen-year practice treating Vietnam combat veterans, Shay shows how Odysseus's mistrustfulness, his lies, and his constant need to conceal his thoughts and emotions foreshadow the experiences of many of today's veterans. Throughout, Homer strengthens our understanding of what a combat veteran must overcome to return to and flourish in civilian life, just as the heartbreaking stories of the veterans Shay treats give us a new understanding of one of the world's greatest classics.

With a foreword by Vietnam veteran U.S. Senators John McCain and Max Cleland, representing bipartisan support for what Dr. Shay is trying to accomplish, Odysseus in America is an impassioned and cogent plea to renovate American military institutions — and a brilliant rereading of Homer's epic.

Review:

"Whether or not one agrees with Shay's prescriptive measures, this is a mandatory purchase for any library serving the military or their families, or where medical professionals deal with any kind of stress-related disorder. It is also a fresh take on a literary classic. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"While it's an intriguing argument, the case studies do not contribute to existing literature, and the tone of the book...comes off too often as hectoring or stridently didactic. Readers with a working knowledge of The Odyssey and a familiarity with the effects of PTSD among Americans who served in the Vietnam War may get the most out of this book..." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Vibrant, provocative thinking and clarity of style on the page are Jonathan Shay's consistent hallmarks. Even those who disagree with his conclusions will find his work of profound value. This is a moral, insightful, stimulating book." Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Terror and Fighting for the Future

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 201-211) and index.

About the Author

Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., is a staff psychiatrist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston. His patients are Vietnam combat veterans with severe, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. Visiting-scholar-at-large at the U.S. Naval War College in 2001, Dr. Shay speaks frequently at the invitation of U.S. military services, universities, and colleges. He lives in the Boston area.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword

Acknowledgments

Preface


1. Introduction


PART I

UNHEALED WOUNDS

2. Odysseus Among the Rich Civilians

3. Pirate Raid: Staying in Combat Mode

4. Lotus Land: The Flight from Pain

5. Cyclops: The Flight from Boredom

"LAWLESS BRUTES"

CUNNING

"AND KNOW NOT ME" — LOSS OF IDENTITY AND BOASTING

6. Odysseus Gets a Leg Up — and Falls on His Face: The Workplace

7. A Peaceful Harbor: No Safe Place

8. Witches, Goddesses, Queens, Wives — Dangerous Women

9. Among the Dead: Memory and Guilt

THE DEAD (TRY TO) REPROACH THE LIVING

"I WON'T FORGET A THING" — KEEPING FAITH

Timmy

ANYONE CLOSE WILL BE HARMED

IRRETRIEVABLE LOSSES

10. What Was the Sirens' Song?: Truth As Deadly Addiction

THE LANGUAGE OF TIMES THAT MAKE A WORLD

MEMORY UNCONNECTED TO COMMUNITY

TOTAL CERTAINTY IS JUST AS DAMAGING

11. Scylla and Charybdis: Dangers Up, Down, and Sideways

12. The Sun God's Beef: The Blame Game

WHY ODYSSEUS' ADVENTURES ARE AN IRONIC ALLEGORY

13. Above the Whirlpool

GUILT AND GOOD CHARACTER

14. Calypso: Odysseus the Sexaholic

15. Odysseus at Home

LIES, TESTS, DISGUISES

SLAUGHTER OF THE INFAMOUS SUITORS

COLDNESS AND CRUELTY TO NEAREST AND DEAREST

TRAUMA AND ODYSSEUS' CHARACTER

HE LEAVES — AGAIN!


PART II

RESTORATION

16. Introduction

AVERSION TO RETURNING VETERANS IS AN OLD STORY

DAMAGE TO CHARACTER — INJURED THUMOS

ARISTOTLE AGAIN — HUMAN IS POLITIKON ZOON

17. From the Clinic to the Wall

STAGES OF RECOVERY

A TRIP TO THE WALL WITH VIP

18. Lew Puller Ain't on the Wall


PART III

PREVENTION

19. Introduction

20. Preventing Psychological and Moral Injury in Military Service

COHESION — THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN COMBAT

Why Does Cohesion Matter?

Cohesion, from the Point of View of Ethics...

Unit Associations — A Neglected Resource

Training

Training, From the Point of View of Ethics...

Leadership

Leadership, from the Point of View of Ethics...

21. Odysseus As a Military Leader

THE TROJAN HORSE

SUMMARY OF THE CHARGES AGAINST CAPTAIN ODYSSEUS

ACHILLES, ODYSSEUS, AND AGAMEMNON

22. Conclusion

THE CIRCLE OF COMMUNALIZATION OF TRAUMA

PURIFICATION AFTER BATTLE

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "BE HOME"?

TRAUMA STUDIES AND OTHER FIELDS OF KNOWLEDGE

A NEW ABOLITIONISM

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001


Appendix I: A Pocket Guide to Homer's Odyssey

PART ONE (BOOKS 1-4): A HOME WITHOUT HUSBAND OR FATHER

PART TWO (BOOKS 5-8): ODYSSEUS STARTS THE LAST LAP FOR HOME

PART THREE (BOOKS 9-12): ODYSSEUS TELLS HIS ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

PART FOUR (BOOKS 13-16): FATHER AND SON RETURN TO ITHACA AND ARE REUNITED

PART FIVE: (BOOKS 17-20): STRANGER AT HOME

PART SIX (BOOKS 21-24): VETERAN TRIUMPHANT

Appendix II: Information Resources for Vietnam Veterans and Their Families

Appendix III: Some Proposals

OBSOLETE ASSUMPTIONS BUILT INTO THE CURRENT MILITARY PERSONNEL SYSTEM

SOME SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS

HOW WE GET THERE FROM HERE

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743211567
Foreword by:
McCain, John S.
Foreword by:
Cleeland, Max
Foreword:
Cleeland, Max
Foreword:
McCain, John S.
Author:
Shay, Jonathan
Author:
Cleland, Senator Max
Author:
McCain, Senator John
Publisher:
Scribner
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
War
Subject:
Neuropsychology
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Mental Illness
Subject:
Mental health
Subject:
Military - Vietnam War
Subject:
Vietnamese conflict, 1961-1975
Subject:
Case studies
Subject:
Sex role
Subject:
Sex differences
Subject:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Subject:
Veterans
Subject:
Military - Veterans
Subject:
War neuroses.
Subject:
Vietnamese Conflict, 19
Copyright:
Series Volume:
107-423
Publication Date:
November 5, 2002
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.34x6.36x1.01 in. 1.20 lbs.

Related Subjects

» Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
» History and Social Science » Military » Vietnam War

Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780743211567 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Whether or not one agrees with Shay's prescriptive measures, this is a mandatory purchase for any library serving the military or their families, or where medical professionals deal with any kind of stress-related disorder. It is also a fresh take on a literary classic. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "While it's an intriguing argument, the case studies do not contribute to existing literature, and the tone of the book...comes off too often as hectoring or stridently didactic. Readers with a working knowledge of The Odyssey and a familiarity with the effects of PTSD among Americans who served in the Vietnam War may get the most out of this book..."
"Review" by , "Vibrant, provocative thinking and clarity of style on the page are Jonathan Shay's consistent hallmarks. Even those who disagree with his conclusions will find his work of profound value. This is a moral, insightful, stimulating book."
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. 201-211) and index.
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