‘I was there’ and ‘It happened to me’: an exploratory study of the social organization of killing by military police officers and combat soldiers, 1976-1987
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Various theoretical frameworks have been applied in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of killing. However, while previous studies have examined killing as an outcome-oriented measure, few have explored killing as a socially organized process. Using letters written by soldiers, police officers, and security professionals found in the magazine Soldier of Fortune, this study examines the actual behaviours that occur during the killing process. The present study demonstrates how subjects psychologically adapt to killing through a cognitive mobilization process, experiencing a dissociative state that deactivates one’s emotional reaction. Applicability of findings to other homicides is discussed.