Gen Mattis on “post-traumatic growth”

Ran across this today, which eloquently captures an important concept that I was wondering how to convey myself.  I think I’ll use this in the book somewhere.  Its from a 2015 interview with General James Mattis, before he became Secretary of Defense.  He’s being interviewed by Peter Robinson, on the show ‘Uncommon Knowledge”. It’s a wide-ranging discussion, but this part comes in right at the end.

Here’s my (slightly edited) excerpt of the General’s remarks:

I would just say there is one misperception of our veterans and that is they are somehow damaged goods.  I don’t buy it. There is also something called post traumatic growth.

For those who close on the enemy, who seek out, close with to kill the enemy, it is a very atavistic, primitive environment and there is post-traumatic stress for anyone who’s been through it.  There is stress, no doubt about it. It’s not an insignificant moment the first time you draw down and you shoot your fellow man, that’s all there is to it. Or you see your buddy get hit next to you. So, the bottom line, there’s going to be stress.  

But it does not have to be post traumatic “disorder” or “syndrome”. You don’t have to come at it from a position of illness.  You can come at it from a position of wellness, from a position of growth as a human being. I’ve seen people come out of this sort of thing better.  Better men, better husbands, better fathers, more in touch with their God or whatever their source of spiritual strength is, kinder, more compassionate.

Not everyone reacts the same way, but I don’t buy that somehow if you came home from Iwo Jima or Gettysburg or Iraq or Afghanistan, that somehow you’re limited in what you can do.  The Greatest Generation came home from WWII, the worst war in world history and they created good communities, they rose to be college presidents, started industries… I just don’t buy that somehow we are handicapped because we’ve been in those circumstances.  I recognize the grim realities. I don’t recognize the limited potential of a human being when they come out of that.  –Gen James Mattis, USMC (retired)

Here’s the YouTube, starting with this discussion:

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