Combat Exhilaration and Combat Addiction

Combat exhilaration and combat addiction are two connected phenomena reported by veterans in various contexts in which a sense of elation or high arousal is experienced in battles or related situations and is sometimes followed by a compulsive engagement in aggressive situations or risk-taking behaviors. Although not extensively studied, both phenomena are noted by numerous authors and particularly by scholars working with veterans and studying the effects of combat exposure and violence perpetration.

Reports on combat high—exciting sensations that sometimes arise during fighting and may later affect postbattle behaviors—go back to ancient history, as demonstrated famously in Homer’s Iliad and in several Greek tragedies. Contemporary literature, however, mainly refers to testimonies and accounts of soldiers and veterans of the two World Wars, the Vietnam War, and ...

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