Read ‘Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging’

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Tribe is a look at post-traumatic stress disorder and the challenges veterans face returning to society. Using his background in anthropology, Sebastian Junger argues that the problem lies not with vets or with the trauma they’ve suffered, but with the society to which they are trying to return.

One of the most puzzling things about veterans who experience PTSD is that the majority never even saw combat―and yet they feel deeply alienated and out of place back home. The reason may lie in our natural inclination, as a species, to live in groups of thirty to fifty people who are entirely reliant on one another for safety, comfort and a sense of meaning: in short, the life of a soldier.

It is one of the ironies of the modern age that as affluence rises in a society, so do rates of suicide, depression and of course PTSD. In a wealthy society people don’t need to cooperate with one another, so they often lead much lonelier lives that lead to psychological distress. There is a way for modern society to reverse this trend, however, and studying how veterans react to coming home may provide a clue to how to do it. But it won’t be easy.

‘An electrifying tapestry of history, anthropology, psychology and memoir that punctures the stereotype of the veteran as a war-damaged victim in need of salvation. Rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women, Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves … Tribe is a stirring clarion call for a return to solidarity. In advocating a public, shared confrontation with the psychic scars of war, Junger aims to stop trauma burning a hole through individual veterans. Such a collective catharsis might also be our best hope of healing the wounds modern society has inflicted on itself’ Guardian

 


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