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Military Conditioning (Anger/Aggression)

Discussion in 'Anger' started by Jimmy, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member Can Ban

    Military Conditioning (Anger/Aggression)

    Anger is a major problem with I suppose all veterans. So I thought I would share with you my opinion.

    I have hidden my anger with substance abuse since returning from the sandy place; however, gave that up over two months ago and am now facing the horrible effects of anger/fury.

    I believe most of it stems from Military Conditioning (Training).
    When you are taught hand to hand combat, or even bayonet fighting, they teach you to use your aggression and push past the normal anger even when hurt and teach you to turn it into 'controlled hate/fury' to successfully defeat the enemy.

    When you are booted from the military due to mental illness (PTSD), they don't de-program you.

    This means when you get into a confrontational situation, whether it be with your partner, children, or even just some tool in the street, your training takes over and that is why I believe we lose it a lot of the time.

    Some of my friends who do not suffer tell me to just walk away. In hindsight, this is a good idea, but if you have had a bad day and your head is 'red lining', it just does not work.

    There are anger management courses which are great, and cognitive behavioural therapy, but I believe each situation is different and it depends how your day is going.

    People told me when I returned that I was angry with the world. In a way, I suppose I was. I was brought up with good morals and beliefs, and these were shot to shit. Like a lot of you guys, I have seen things that my mind just could not comprehend. For example, how women and children are treated in other countries, and just their value on life.

    I am struggling at the moment with my medication because I tried to be my own chemist and use natural green leafy substances and alcohol. All they did was hurt me in the back pocket and the issues were still there the next day.

    Now, my children are proud of my progress even though I don't tell them that some days I want to cut my head off.

    Would be interested in anyone else's coping strategies.

    :confused:
  2. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Can Ban Administrator

    Well said mate.

    My first learning curve towards not so much controlling my anger, but learning how to think differently, was with road rage. When I had uncontrolled PTSD, being it just developed and had no idea what the hell was wrong with me, I had beaten people, gotten out of my car and hit people, even run into a few people intentionally... pretty bad stuff even when I reviewed my actions afterward. Something my therapist said to me just clicked. She said... what if they had PTSD and their thoughts were exactly the same as my thoughts?

    Well, that gave me a little different perspective to use. From that point on, when I got frustrated with an idiot motorist cutting me off, being in my way... hell, just existing, I said to myself... "maybe they have PTSD and are just as pissed off with me as I am with them" and I could relate to that, thus my anger just soothed... was atleast controllable. I did this for months until now... I rarely get angry on the road. Sure, I still do with some total morons, but I don't ram people or punch them any more.

    My further growth in controlling my anger, was learning to identify what I felt. My therapist introduced me to the iceberg of emotions theory. Basically, anger, rage, hatred, etc... these are not actually emotions, instead they are emotional responses. This being, you feel something else in order to get angry. Anger is the result, but not the cause. So this furthered my own development in coming to terms with deprogramming my own anger response to a more acceptable civilian response. When I get angry, I immediately look to the underlying emotion... ie. usually frustration is a big one. A motorist is frustrating me. So I deal with the frustration emotion which works for me to remove the anger response, or atleast calm it down.

    These were two of the best things I was ever introduced to in order to calm my own anger... and they have become part of me nowadays and I use them instinctively, just like the military taught us to use anger, instead I reversed it moreso recognising and framing it as an instinctive behaviour. A little military positive learning turned the negative military learning for the better.
    princessx likes this.
  3. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member Can Ban

    Thanks Mate,

    I have read the info on both your sites, and it is exactly like they teach on the PTSD course. The problem is, that like anything if not practised, we forget.

    My anger as I explained before was shrouded and hidden by first alcohol abuse, then substance abuse. Yes, it is great for problems as it makes you not 'give a rats' but when you come off them, the issues are still there.

    This is the major problem I am experiencing now.

    The anger coping strategies are just not working at the moment as I am dealing with a virus. These are all linked.

    My resistances and immune system, including my pain receptors are all screwed due to substance abuse. So anti-depressants, antibiotics, and pain medication just is not working at them moment.

    My GP has said that its only been nine weeks and eventually everything will come good, but its just so darn tempting to go back to what I know; however, my boy is too important.

    I have booked in to a mood disorder course in the new year and hopefully everything will be stabilised by then.

    Thanks for all your support Anthony, I am going to pass on to the PTSD coordinator and Dr John Rogers, probably one of the leading PTSD psych's in Queensland about your site mate. Maybe they can offer you some useful info or feedback and maybe able to use it as a tool for the guys just coming out of the program or just being diagnosed.

    Have a great New Year mate.:cool:
  4. dave

    dave New Member

    I was one of those angry at the world for not being how I grew up thinking it should be. I didn't ask to be changed and no one warned me that my scale of what's important in life would become completely different than "normal" people. What most people spend their lives worrying doesn't even register on my radar screen. I didn't want to be different, I wanted to return to the life I had before the war but it all seemed shallow and empty shortly after coming home. I was confused about why everything had changed. I was embarrassed and frustrated about reactions I learned to survive that now I couldn't control, so I used anger to push people away and protect myself.

    We learned to survive by getting control of situations that threatened us. Anger and fear were easy ways to raise adrenalin immediately and overpower any threat. I've been told that our brain doesn't distinguish between real life threats and threats to our ego, our bodies react the same to each confrontation. Many times I have to tell myself "no one is going to die here, now, if I don't react." The physical strain my body goes through and the later embarrassment just aren't worth it anymore.

    I've had to accept that people are not perfect (including myself) and they certainly don't have to act the way I think they should. Unfortunately, people are just people. I can't expect things that are not in the hearts and minds of others.
  5. BioHazard

    BioHazard New Member

    I used to stay angry a lot, sometimes for days on end. Especially when I first came home from the sandy place. I started to drink because before my deployments I was a happy drunk. I am not a happy drunk anymore, so I have stopped drinking after three years in a bottle. Some days I just want to crack open a bottle of rum and drink until I hit the floor, but most days I don't entertain the notion of taking even a single sip.

    I used to get angry over the most minor things. A program I want to watch has been delayed for a Presidential address? Let me throw things and yell for 20 minutes. Can't find my work uniform? Let me threaten to leave my wife for someone better organized. The puppy had an accident on the rug? Smack it with a newspaper and yell incoherently. I literally almost threw away all of the good things in my life because I was so convinced that i was guilty of such bad things that I did not deserve to have good things, so I almost chased the good away. It took my wife threatening to leave and take the kids if I didn't get help for me to agree to see a psychiatrist, which is when we found out that I suffered from PTSD. That has been almost three years ago. I know it will never be cured, but it can be controlled and managed quite well.
  6. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member Can Ban

    Thanks Dave and Bio,

    That's what I really like about this site. Everyone here has experienced a combat environment. And can empathise.

    In my previous thread I explained about my current problems. Its when it changes from anger and builds to fury over trivial little things. Like you said Bio.
    I hate losing control. And like you said Dave

    .

    As I am a single Dad, my children have had to learn to sometimes not have a say and its not fair on them.

    The other problem is the anger at the Defence Force for kicking me out. I loved my career and was a Sergeant Major. Now I have to fill that void. I started by filling it with alcohol and substances, now I am searching what to fill it with.

    I have a great vegetable garden. hehe
    :D
  7. BioHazard

    BioHazard New Member

    I completely understand about the anger toward the military for kicking you out. The Army didn't kick me out, per se. They just told me I could not re-enlist due to my growing mental problems and alcohol problem. I was a staff sergeant (E-6) before they started taking my ranks for trouble I got into.When I left the military, I was an E-4. I started drinking, and almost lost everything important to me. I spend a lot of time working on my car or buildiing plastic models. I couldn't grow a weed in a pile of manure, lol.
    guamhaze likes this.
  8. dave

    dave New Member

    One of the bitter pills of life is that it's not fair. To the military, we were just damaged goods and couldn't function as they wanted anymore. It's a hell of a thank you for giving your best but there is life after the military. You're doing the right thing for yourself - you're more than what the military took from you. Life is a process, not a series of events. You're moving into a new area of your life. It's frightening because it's unfamiliar, but you've learned to deal with fear before, you're in the beginning of making a new life for yourself.
  9. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Can Ban Administrator

    The things you mention Bio... cost me my first two marriages. I could literally hold onto having the shits about something for weeks, then just suddenly I was ok again.

    People used to ask me if I was angry at the military for discharging me. Initially I was, but then I realised something different. It wasn't them that signed me onto the dotted line with the responsibility and knowledge that deployment was a possibility, it was me who signed on the dotted line and I knew in the back of my head that what I was signing could also be me signing my own premature death from combat. Took me a while to figure that one out... but its true. Some of my mates were also angry at the Army for discharging them, but when I said that to them, they sat on it for a while and thought about it, and they honestly knew that when they enlisted that death was a possibility for an outcome from enlisting.

    When I was asked after this little realisation to sit down and reassign blame after my own epiphany, the blame for me incurring PTSD due to combat was actually more 95% my own fault, 5% Army for not highlighting to me before deployment that such a thing was even a possibility, being PTSD. They did provide us after deployment counselling, but like usual, I just said what they wanted to hear and wanted to get the hell out of their and be with the boys and having a drink, getting home basically, not answering questions or reliving what had happened over the past months. What I know now vs. then!!! If I had prior knowledge that I could be mentally fucked up for life if I didn't talk about what I felt at that time and during my deployment... well.... my actions could have been different, they could have been the same, but that was a choice I was not given... hence the 5% blame assigned to the military for their lack of information on an important aspect of deployments.

    The military have certainly taken care of me as a result of obtaining PTSD from my operations, but I really think if I knew more before deployments, then this could be avoided for many people, along with the heightened anger. I was angry for many years about getting PTSD due to my deployments... but I actually could only blame myself because I chose to sign on the dotted line knowing I was going / possibly going into combat zones during my service. That rid a lot of my own anger in one very short period.
  10. BioHazard

    BioHazard New Member

    Yeah, I know what you mean about costing you so much, Anthony. It took the best, most caring person I have ever met packing her clothes and threatening to leave to get me to even see a counselor. But, it also pulled my head out of my ass and got me to start looking at my actions from someone else's point of view.

    I got out of the military in 2006. By that time, I was already a raging alcoholic, more prone to throw things and yell profanities than to rationally discuss a subject. It culminated in my assaulting someone I considered to be one of my best friends. He was trying to calm me down during an argument over a card game. I also attacked one of the M.P.s when they came to take me away. The next morning, when the wife came to bail me out of the stockade, she told me that I could see a therapist and try to work out why I was suddenly so angry all the time, or she was taking the kids and going to her father's house. I made an appointment for later in the week. It has been 2 years, 8 months, and 26 days since I started therapy. It has helped me work through a lot of my issues, but there are still things I need to fix, and there probably always will be.

    For a long time, I thought the same way you did, Anthony. I thought it was all the Army's fault. It took seeing my aunt's youngest son telling me that he wanted to join the military to realize that at one time, I was just like this fresh faced young man. Eager to sign my life away in a fit of patriotism. I told him that I disagreed with his decision, but respected his status as an adult capable of making that decision, and that I would fly a flag for him every day that he was deployed. I went with him to the recruiter's office and made sure that they didn't put the screws to him. I stopped the recruiter dead in his tracks when he tried to tell my cousin that he probably would not get deployed. I told him if he could put into the contract that my cousin would never get deployed in a military operation, I would let my cousin sign the contract. When he admitted that he couldn't do that, I told him to stick to the truth, or I would find a recruiter for my cousin who could stick to the truth. Best time I have had since I joined the military, lol!

    I am still at odds with the Veteran's Administration about my PTSD treatment, because they keep trying to charge me for it every few months, until I show up with my release forms and psychiatric evaluation documents. Eventually they will give up.
  11. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Can Ban Administrator

    Wow... that is harsh that they try to continually sting you with the bill for PTSD treatment... which I am an avid believer that is the one thing the military will always be responsible for with any soldier who has PTSD from operational deployment. The bare minimum IMHO is that they take care of that cost that the person never had prior to serving their country. Good for you for fighting them on it.

    I know what you're saying about pulling your head out of your arse though... the amount of times I had to learn that one myself, accept I was being a right cock about something and remove my own head from my arse... I firmly believe one of the hardest things is to accept being wrong and apologize. Still bites me in the arse sometimes.
  12. phil

    phil New Member

    Anger is all i know

    I always feel like i am going to explode and get into an altercation. i always feel as though i have to be on the defenxive or that i am being attacked does this ever go away
  13. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Can Ban Administrator

    Phil, it doesn't go away by itself mate, but with a some good old education and hard work on your part, yes, you can pretty much rid the majority of it.

    Now you're thinking... were do I begin?

    Well... the beginning is that you're here, but now you need to start telling us why your angry. Seriously Phil, I can help you get rid of a whole lot of your anger... you are in the right place. You are going to get pissed off at times, even pissed at me, have no doubt, but if you keep at this your going to be a whole new person again... the person you want to be.
  14. Matt218

    Matt218 New Member

    I've seen it first hand both as a child and as someone with the issue. My dad did some hush-hush work during Vietnam that he has never talked about, but I know he has done some things that messed with his head. I saw him get confronted by 3 guys at a bar we stopped at on a road trip to use the bathroom. I was 8 or 9, and watched him, in about 3 or 4 seconds, put down 3 fairly built bikers who had a problem with "passer through's" or something along those lines. He said nothing after the fact, and I don't think my Mom ever knew.

    When I got back from Afghanistan, me and a buddy who joined with me were drinking at his house. (He was deployed after me with a different unit, but we were both home on leave at the same time) and some dude started getting out of control and shoved his cousin, who is like a sister to me. My buddy knew I was getting amped up, and he told the dude he should probably leave because "I can't tell you what Matt might do, he's war-crazy" (slightly teasing me, and trying to get the kid to stop) He came up about 5 feet from me, and started talking about how he was "gonna kill me". I snapped. I stepped closer, he pushed me, and I punched him about 4 or 5 times in the face and neck. He dropped to the ground and I got on his back, and began fighting with him on the ground. I kneed him in the face about 3 times, punched him in his face and kidneys about 6 or 7 more times, then choked him out. My buddy called the cops, and homeboy sprawled out the front of the house, and began fighting with my buddy. The cops rolled up, me and my buddy are covered in blood, I'm visibly amped up pacing back and forth. Homeboy took off running as he had warrants, and the cops laughed about how stupid he was for messing with two dudes from the Army.

    To this day I will kill that kid if I ever see him again, yet I flipped out more than I ever have.

    I was never an aggressive person by nature, I would talk someone down before getting physical, but I just stopped bothering.
  15. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Can Ban Administrator

    Matt... talking people down isn't a bad thing still though mate... I used to be like that, hated fighting, same deal as you and most others... Army, conflict, fight more... did a lot of bad things, but now I also realise that there are just some real dicks in the world, but unless they literally threaten me or I feel extremely threatened, I just leave them alone. Looking at what you said above, I don't believe you have turned violent really... sure, your training helps, but this guy pushed a chick... and its just not right to hit or push women period, we all know that one. He provoked you and threatened you... does that make you violent under that circumstance? No. Honestly, I think you're actually doing alright, otherwise you would have been on top of him from the moment he pushed her. If you just clocked the guy without reason, then that is something you would have to get under control real quick... but that's not the case from what you explained above. I don't justify, I call it as I see it.
  16. Nate

    Nate Member

    I find that the military conditioning has given this battlemind that I jump in to, and I can't turn it off.
    How is it that a person can go to work and next thing you know it is time to go home but you don't know what you have gotten done that day because your brain disconnects from everything around you? Well I know what that feels like and I can get a lot done but never know how it all gets done and I get that great pat on the back with a good job, yes it feels good to get that pat on the back but at what costs. I go home drain out and have a hard time connecting or being able to stay with anything so I turn to the TV and turn in to a vegetable or sleep the afternoon away. What kind of life is that for a loving wife or 4 of the best kids in the world?
    What puts me in to the battlemind? I have no idea at this point what puts me there but most of the time once I know I am in that state of mind I find I can come back from it until the next day. I have tryed the getting up every 15 minutes and walking away from the desk but that doesn't because as I am walking around I find myself just thinking about what else I have to do, I really feel that this new position I have been put in to isn't going to help because there is only me and a Warrant that is never there by the looks of it so it will be me. That will okay because I will be working for myself but I am only on half days but feel like they are trying to push me into full days. I think the uniform helps drive me into that disconnecting and to focus on the job at hand because if I didn't get it done someone else would have to pick up my slack and I don't want anyone to have to pick after me. But on the other hand I hate fallowing up someone to pick up there slack and I think that is what I will be doing in this job and what I was doing in my last position. What should I do? Where should I turn?
  17. Jimmy

    Jimmy Well-Known Member Can Ban

    Mate, as you know none of us are really qualified to technically give you an answer, and some of your questions might not have answers, they just are.

    I suffered similar to you when I returned from Iraq in 2006. They promoted me to Warrant and shoved me in an office out of harms way. To this day, I still have no idea on what I did or if I actually completed anything. The battlemind you are talking about can be a couple of things; however, what your describing sounds like 'disassociation'. I call it off with the pixies.

    I can be driving along and all of a sudden I am there and do not remember the trip (scary). I can also be in the lounge watching the idiot box and my son can have a conversation which I cannot remember.

    I was at my girlfriends the other day, laying on her bed. She said my eyes were wide open so she laid down next to me and started reading her magazine. The said I spoke so she answered me. I apparently jumped out of my skin and told her she scared the shit out of me.

    Here is a definition for you.

    Dissociation is a partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s conscious or psychological functioning. Dissociation can be a response to trauma or drugs and perhaps allows the mind to distance itself from experiences that are too much for the psyche to process at that time. Dissociative disruptions can affect any aspect of a person’s functioning

    As for your work, I attribute it to your training. If you remember basic training, you can strip a weapon blindfolded.
    It's the way the military train you to do anything without questioning and to perfection.

    This is all just my opinion, hope it helps.

    Jimmy
  18. Nate

    Nate Member

    Thanks Jimmy that does help.
  19. femalevet

    femalevet Active Member

    Not sure who is who here or what war you were in. I can honeslt say that I served in a combat zone, the same one being Iraq. I also did a tour with NATO in Kosovo in 2001. I got to watch NATO bombers destroy a lot of shit It is often hard to talk to other vets about my experiences because they either do not believe me or they just do not care because they are positive that their trauma was even worse. Right now I say, your sisters need you. If any of you were over there then you know there are some of us female sodiers, marines, sailors, air, the same, female and male who have sacrificed something for the betterment of this war. WMD's may not have been produced but was there any question that there was Al-Quaeda and the Taliban in Iraq? And did we kill the major figures of these terrorist organizations as we should have. Was a rehearsed bomb attack for Washington, D.C. not averted? Was there not a bomb of the same scenario not averted in NY City.. We did not kill the mastermind, but we are putting a serious dent in his work. Eventually, there will be a time when his works will be the only casualties, The best way to kill a devil is to do it in full view of the rightous, and these people are the closest friends we have.
  20. femalevet

    femalevet Active Member

    Try getting promoted to WO2 when you have a leg that does not work? Truth is I made the most of it until I just wasnt
    "Hard Core" anough to finish....but then that is what medical boarding is for.

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