The Dark Side of “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness”

Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk and Stephen Soldz

Why is the world's largest organization of psychologists so aggressively promoting a new, massive, and untested military program? The APA's enthusiasm for mandatory "resilience training" for all US soldiers is troubling on many counts.

The January 2011 issue of the American Psychologist, the American Psychological Association's (APA) flagship journal, is devoted entirely to 13 articles that detail and celebrate the virtues of a new US Army-APA collaboration. Built around positive psychology and with key contributions from former APA President Martin Seligman and his colleagues, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is a $125 million resilience training initiative designed to reduce and prevent the adverse psychological consequences of combat for our soldiers and veterans. While these are undoubtedly worthy aspirations, the special issue is nevertheless troubling in several important respects: the authors of the articles, all of whom are involved in the CSF program, offer very little discussion of conceptual and ethical considerations; the special issue does not provide a forum for any independent critical or cautionary voices whatsoever; and through this format, the APA itself has adopted a jingoistic cheerleading stance toward a research project about which many crucial questions should be posed. We discuss these and related concerns below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fort Hood: A Harbinger of Things to Come?

Bryant Welch

The Army knew that Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan was shouting political and religious harangues to patients during his therapy sessions at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

When that happens in a psychiatric setting, it is time to radio Houston that we have a problem.

Instead of admitting the serious break down in Army quality control, each day the Army provides a new explanation of why blame for the Fort Hood shootings should be laid at the feet of Muslim terrorists and not the US military.

This problem the military has in confronting psychiatric problems is longstanding.

Unless there is a dramatic change in the military’s use of mental health expertise there will be more Fort Hoods as our troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious psychiatric disorders.

Read the rest of this entry »