Dr. Helen

Without Sheepdogs, would our society survive?

I was reading a Men’s Journal magazine today and came across an interesting article from March 2017 on David Grossman, the author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The article in the print version I read had a headline that read something like “Should Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, the “Killologist” Be Training America’s Cops?” I guess that sounded too negative towards Grossman and unfavorable towards cops and on the web version, it read:” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, the “Killologist” Training America’s Cops”. In either case, it is an interesting read:

One morning in October 2016, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman was in a Red Lion Hotel conference room in Sacramento, California, preparing to speak to a group of state troopers about what it’s like to kill.

Grossman, 60, is a former West Point psychology professor who’s spent much of his career studying killology — his term for the psychology of taking a life. Among the military and law enforcement, he’s a revered figure. His first book, On Killing, is part of the curriculum at the FBI academy and on the Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List. Its follow-up, On Combat, is probably best known for his assertion that people can be divided into three groups — sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs — and it’s the sheepdogs, “blessed with the gift of aggression,” who are responsible for protecting the sheep from the wolves. The analogy has been adopted by various military and gun-rights groups; in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, the father of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle gives a (fictional) dinner-table speech about sheepdogs taken directly from Grossman’s writings.

Much of Grossman’s work draws on his study of killing in combat — specifically, the psychological and physiological effects a person experiences upon taking a life. Since retiring from the Army 19 years ago, he has worked with hundreds of agencies, including the FBI, the DEA, ATF, the Secret Service, the Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. Marshals, and U.S. Special Forces. But these days Grossman’s real bread and butter is local police. Over the past two years, he has spoken to more than 100 departments around the country. There’s probably no one in America who trains more cops; there’s almost certainly no one who trains cops who is better known.

It’s pretty clear from the slant of the article and the headline in the print version that the writer is not much of a fan of Grossman but Grossman makes some good points, particularly about the various types of people and the need for Sheepdogs in the form of police or others to be vigilant. For without Sheepdogs, would our society survive?