When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home
Traumatized veterans returning from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are often diagnosed as suffering from a psychological disorder and prescribed a regimen of psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs. But why, asks psychologist Paula J. Caplan in this impassioned book, is it a mental illness to be devastated by war? What is a mentally healthy response to death, destruction, and moral horror? In When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home, Caplan argues that the standard treatment of therapy and drugs is often actually harmful. It adds to veterans' burdens by making them believe wrongly that they should have "gotten over it"; it isolates them behind the closed doors of the therapist's office; and it makes them rely on often harmful drugs. The numbers of traumatized veterans from past and present wars who continue to suffer demonstrate the ineffectiveness of this approach.
Sending anguished veterans off to talk to therapists, writes Caplan, conveys the message that the rest of us don't want to listen—or that we don't feel qualified to listen. As a result, the truth about war is kept under wraps. Most of us remain ignorant about what war is really like—and continue to allow our governments to go to war without much protest. Caplan proposes an alternative: that we welcome veterans back into our communities and listen to their stories, one-on-one. (She provides guidelines for conducting these conversations.) This would begin a long overdue national discussion about the realities of war, and it would start the healing process for our returning veterans.
About the Author
Paula J. Caplan, a clinical and research psychologist, is an Affiliate at Harvard University’s DuBois Institute and a Fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of The Myth of Women’s Masochism, They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal, and eight other books. Her articles, essays, and op-eds have appeared in both scholarly and popular publications.
Table of Contents
- When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home
- "If we, as citizens, want to do right by the young men and women who serve in our military and fight our wars, we can start by reading this profound and moving book. By the book's end, you will be certain of one therapeutic truth: A society that sends its young off to war needs to be ready to hear their stories when they return and know that 'there is healing power in not only listening but also remembering what the speaker says.'"
- -Robert Whitaker, author of
- Anatomy of an Epidemic
- Mad in America
- "The suffering of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, their families, and those whose lives they affect is likely to be the greatest mental health tragedy of at least the next decade. Dr. Caplan's passionate, eminently readable book makes a compelling case that this is about human pain, not mental illness. Dr. Caplan's critically reasoned review of the multiple dimensions of this crisis is both a call to action and a guidebook for how we can all do our part (still to be done for Vietnam vets) to welcome our American heroes home."
- -Paul Block, Director, Psychological Centers, Providence, RI
- "Caplan peels away the layers of myth, denial, and cliché we've used to shield ourselves from our veterans' unmet needs and our unpaid debt to them. Veterans' own stories put a human face on this book's careful research and thoughtful analysis. This book is a must-read not just for those who care about our veterans but for anyone who has benefited from their sacrifices, which is to say all of us."
- -Kenneth S. Pope, psychologist, ABPP, and coauthor,
- Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling
- "Rather than dealing with soldiers' postwar pain through denial or the distancing, detachment, diagnosis, drugs, and dis-ease of professionals, Caplan advocates that we all contribute by listening when soldiers tell their stories, and she presents a clear and convincing case that we should not recoil from or deny the horrors of war. Refusing to recognize the experiences of soldiers contributes to the continuation of both war and the debilitating impact of war on returning warriors. Caplan employs prose, poetry, literature, logic, and empirical data to convince us of our power to contribute to a community that connects with and socially supports returning veterans. It is important for all of us, laypersons and professionals, to hear what Caplan has to say and to listen to the stories that veterans have to tell."
- -Maureen C. McHugh, Professor of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
- When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home
- How All of Us Can Help Veterans
- Paula J. Caplan
- The MIT Press
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- London, England
- Paula J. Caplan
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
- For information about special quantity discounts, please email special_sales@ mitpress.mit.edu.
- This book was set in Stone Serif and Stone Sans by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Caplan, Paula J.
- When Johnny and Jane come marching home : how all of us can help veterans / Paula J. Caplan.
- p. cm.
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- ISBN 978-0-262-01554-7 (hardcover : alk. paper)
- 1. Veterans—Mental health. I. Title.
- RC550.C37 2011
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- To the memory of my beloved, gentle father, Jerome Arnold Caplan, my hero, who so loved his family and loved the men with whom he served during World War II in the 969th Field Artillery Battalion when he was Captain Caplan
- Other Books by Paula J. Caplan
- Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis
- Gender Differences in Human Cognition
- They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal
- You’re Smarter Than They Make You Feel: How the Experts Intimidate Us and What We Can Do About It
- Thinking Critically About Research on Sex and Gender
- Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman’s Guide to Surviving in the Academic World
- Don’t Blame Mother: Mending the Mother-Daughter Relationship
- The Myth of Women’s Masochism
- Between Women: Lowering the Barriers
- Children’s Learning and Attention Problems
- Note to the Reader ix
- Acknowledgments xi
- Prologue xv
- 1 When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home:
- The Problem 1
- 2 Being a Veteran 23
- 3 There’s Only So Much Emotional Carnage of War That Therapists Can Fix 69
- 4 The Wrong Responses Begin:
- What the Military Is Doing While Johnny and Jane Are Over There . . . and Why It’s Not Enough 111
- 5 What the VA Is Doing Once Johnny and Jane Are Home . . . and Why It’s Not Enough 145
- 6 What Every Citizen Can Do to Help 165
- 7 This Matters Desperately 209
- Afterword 221
- Notes 227
- References (available online at http://mitpress.mit.edu/caplanjohnny)
- Index 273
—Kenneth S. Pope, psychologist, ABPP, and co-author, Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling
—Samuel Shem, author of The Spirit of the Place and The House of God
—Michelle Wilmot, Women’s Outreach Coordinator for Vets4Vets
—Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America
—David Collier, licensed psychologist/team leader, Salem (OR) Vet Center
—Robert Shetterly , artist and author of Americans Who Tell the Truth
—Maureen C. McHugh, Professor of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
—Roy J. Eidelson, Past President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility; President, Eidelson Consulting
—Paul Block, Director, Psychological Centers, Providence, RI
—Jamin Raskin, Professor of Law, American University, and Maryland State Senator
2011 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Psychology, presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers