Military Matters: Veteran Psychotherapy and the Use of Military Metaphor
The use of military metaphor in the health sciences has been a topic of recurrent interest and debate for several decades. In that time, writers have decried how “wars” against such scourges as cancer, drugs, and, more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, can shape conceptualizations of these maladies and their treatments in unproductive ways (see, for example, Hauser & Schwarz, 2020; Nie et al., 2016; for an earlier and seminal statement of this position, see Sontag, 1978). Fuks (2010) cautions against this militarized language, in which providers wage war against disease, concerned not only that the disease might supplant the patient as the focus of attention but also that providers themselves might be adversely affected: “it is not simply for patients that medicine must create new metaphors. What is also at stake is the very persona of the physician whose own identity cannot be rooted in warfare and assaults” (Fuks, p. 64). Other writers have readily embraced war metaphors. War metaphors can bespeak a shared knowledge, garner attention and invoke a sense of urgency (Flusberg et al., 2018). Indeed, through their ebook of the same name, Nold and Nold (2021) offer a review of adjunctive treatments marshalled in support of a Total War on PTSD.