Featured Post


To answer the question "What is Soldiers For Peace?" you must understand who a Soldier For Peace is. A Soldier Fo...

Join Soldiers For Peace International on Facebook!


Feel free to reproduce any of these essays without prior permission as long as they are unedited and posted or printed with attribution and a link to the website.

Monday, November 23, 2009



Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Sep 29, 2009 8:30 AM PDT

This chapter is dedicated to Newt Gingrich, who taught to us the power of emotional persuasion through its application to political propaganda and to George Lakoff, who is his progressive counterpart in the science of political persuasion through emotional language.

Our “reptilian brain” is the older part that evolved to ensure the survival of the individual organisms from which humans evolved and thus the species to which they belonged. Through the evolution of the amygdala, we are programmed to respond to perceived threats at an unconscious level by the fight or flight reaction. Our amygdalae drive an automatic arousal response which temporarily suspends frontal lobe control of our behavior. 

Soldiers are conditioned to similarly suspend individual judgment under combat conditions when their individual survival or that of their comrades is threatened or perceived to be threatened. It takes exceptional control of this conditioned response to risk life and limb to protect those who may intend to kill the soldier or who may be innocent civilians, caught up in the madness of a war brought into their homes by the corporate machine.

The memories stored in the amygdalae have a very special property. These nuclei store memories at a preconscious level that are extremely resistant to the phenomenon known as extinction. This refers to the tendency of normal declarative memories stored in the neocortex to fade over time. Declarative memories are holographic representations of emotionally charged experiences which are searched and referenced by the frontal lobe when it is directed to do so by an act of will, or automatically when an association is formed with resonates with that holographic pattern.

The cells which store extremely emotionally laden experiences form a parallel system of memory storage which remembers features of events which are perceived to threaten the integrity of the organism. These cells have an electrophysiologic property that causes then to fire rapidly when stimulated, and the dendritic connections between these cells are so strongly imprinted that this pattern does not change even when the individual is removed from the hazardous environment. Even though the returning veteran knows that he or she is safe, the feeling of being in constant danger fades very slowly.

One of the reasons that the veteran feels in constant danger is that any aspect of normal experience which is common to the veteran in a war zone and serves as a warning of danger in combat can trigger these anxiety-provoking memories, thus placing the veteran on a state of high alert, which we may call DefCon 4, or battle readiness under a state of attack. Thus, the civilian may encounter a veteran who appears always vigilant, overly reactive to sudden movement or unexpected noise, and ready to do battle under inappropriate circumstances.

We are all veterans of war in the sense that however dimly aware we may be of the experiences of the brave men and women who have risked their lives to protect freedom and democracy, we cannot remain unaffected by a state of war. The more sensitive we are to the suffering of others, the more we are affected. The corporate machine uses this to keep us in a perpetual state of anxiety, ready to turn to any leader who promises to protect us. 

 The shadow government used the corporate media to condition the fearful and submissive who were raised in authoritarian environments. These are the Tea Party supporters who are so ready to drop their daily toils in anger to rise up against the very people who might otherwise help them. If only we could channel that anger and energy toward productive goals, we would quickly regain our democracy and crush the corporatocracy that controls our Congress.

This is also the mission of Soldiers For Peace. We must boldly go where most dare not, into the bastions of what once was conservatism, when we had a society worth conserving. Liberals must free their neoconservative brothers and sisters from the death grip of the corporatocracy. Real conservatives must help us by making clear to those confused by the propaganda of the real meaning of conservatism as articulated by great conservatives of the past who were purged from the Republican Party for not conforming to its increasingly fascist agenda.

By recognizing our common humanity and reaching out to each other as Americans with common goals and aspirations, we can help everyone understand that neoconservatism represents all that our Revolutionary forefathers fought and dies to combat. In the halls of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans for Peace and other former service members must venture to educate other veterans about the true meaning of Americanism and the difference between socialism and abiding by the social contract upon which the Constitution is based.

In the immortal words of Roger Waters:

Us and them...
and after all we're only ordinary men.

Me and you...
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.

Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
The General sat, and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.

Black and blue...
and who knows which is which and who is who.

Up and down,
and in the end it's only round and round,
and round.

Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
the poster bearer cried.

Listen son, said the man with the gun,
there's room for you inside.

Down and out,
it can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.

With, without...
and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about

Out of the way, it's a busy day,
I've got things on my mind.
For want of the price of tea and a slice
the old man died.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

On the lower Umpqua, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. This is the simplest way that I could explain the biological underpinnings of some of the most prominent features of PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is important for understanding how a traumatized nation can act so irrationally that its behavior becomes self-destructive.

    Our nation has suffered a collective trauma that has changed us for the following 47 years. Kennedy was shot by a man recruited by a Mafia Don known to Hoover who was never prosecuted, according to FBI documents realeased about a year ago.

    While only fools believed that the Tower Commission adequately looked at the first of the Kennedy assassinations, it is interesting to consider that if Hoover knew who ordered the hit on Kennedy, he also knew who approved it.

    Even if this were actually just a Family thing, all the major Families would surely have been consulted before taking such a dangerous step as bringing attention to a Mafia under regular attack by the Kennedys.

    The fact that Hoover knew who committed this crime and covered it up is presumably the same reason that the Families felt protected in staging at least the assassination of James Earl Ray by known Mafia associate Jack Ruby, who was dying of cancer. I hope the Families have a generous widow's benefit plan.

    Racking my brain to figure out who could have provided cover for the assassination of the President, I eventually concluded that it was most likely that the CIA authorized it on behalf of the international corporate terrorists who give them marching orders. Who else can overrule the President but the people who generally pick them?

    It seems that the election of John F. Kennedy had not been in their plans. It is said that Joe greased many a palm in his quest to make one of his sons President, but apparently the Mafia was not among them, judging by Robert Kennedy's aggressive attempts to bring them to justice as Attorney General under his brother. That made them the logical place to hire the hit.

    It is easy to say that the Mafia had reason to want revenge, but it seems implausible that they would have risked the possible recriminations that would arise from killing Kennedy. Had the corporatocracy not wanted John and arguably Robert killed, John at least would have lived.


This is a community for progressive action. Please keep comments on topic and play well with others.