The Post Glory Exuberance Disorder-PGED

                                                                                                               by Kathie MM

World War I Victory Parade – 700 Block Hamilton Street – Allentown PA. 1919.
In the public domain

Just google “perpetual war,” and you will find many articles on US involvement in what appear to be endless military actions around the world.  Google “PTSD” and you will find many more articles on the pernicious effects of war on those who are sent to wage it.

Given the huge costs of war–financial and humanitarian–why do so many Americans continue to support their government’s military undertakings?

These excerpts from an article in Transcend Network by Johan Galtung  provide one thought-provoking answer.

“Very well known is post trauma stress disorder, PTSD; no doubt a very painful disorder experienced by many, most, maybe by all of us. Something went very wrong: a shock, violence, physical, verbal, by and to individuals, groups in society, societies, groups of societies….  

What would be the opposite of trauma? Evidently something positive…. [One] type of trauma is defeat in a war and the opposite is victory.  Basking in the glory, not suffering the gloom of trauma.  And then, if trauma could lead to a state of stress,…maybe deep and repeated glory could lead to a state of, let us call it exuberance?….

Death in a war is a major trauma for the bereaved and all, victory a major glory for many and all. The loser is traumatized, the winner glorified. The loser may suffer deep disorder, like nations traumatized by Western colonialism. Or they may say “Never Again” and launch a peace movement.  The winner will do his best to keep war as an institution.  Till his time comes to lose….

Because to any PTSD it makes sense to postulate a PGED [Post Glory Exuberance Disorder] as a strong cause having that PTSD as effect. If we want to reduce the PTSD, it is obviously insufficient to work on the victim side only, with therapies and remedies, when PGED reproduces PTSD.  A whole system has to be changed…. 

Take the war system, … as alive as ever with threats of major wars in many places in the “Middle East” (West Asia), the USA-EU-Ukraine-Russia complex, and in the “Far East” (East Asia).  The relatively peaceful continents are in the “Third World”, Latin America-Caribbean and Africa; the enormity of violence against them being structural more than direct war.

In this there is a message to those who naively believe that “development leads to peace”; right now it looks more like the other way around.  Why, given all the suffering, the PTSD, caused by wars?

Because of PGED enjoyed by the winners.  Not only basking in the glory of ticker tape parades and similar orgies, but in billions to the winners, incidentally also to some of the losers…. Wars make money flow.

The world’s major war machine is the United States of America.  No US president winning a war has ever been blamed for human suffering caused…. The war in Vietnam was lost, a terrible trauma for US leaders, population, and the bereaved of 58,000 killed. But not of 3 million Vietnamese? Grotesque insensitivity.  Questions raised were not about the political use of war but how to win future wars to overcome the “Vietnam syndrome”.

To win means collective glory and exuberance, individual profits in the billions high up, and some heroism, glory, and medals lower down. Of the millions killed and tens of millions bereaved: no word.

Try one minute, or an hour rather, to contemplate the total PTSD perpetrated by US warfare on the peoples of Afghanistan from 2001, and Iraq from 1991, and 2003. True, there has been no US PGED but even some US PTSD from the “unfinished wars” as CNN calls it. Also true, lots of US psychotherapy for PTSD has been made available both places.

But most in need of counseling are Americans hit by wanting PGED, demanding winnable wars as therapy; disasters to the victims all over, even counting in the millions, with enormities of PTSD in their wake.

We are victims of a negative psychology of individual therapy. And short on a positive psychology to provide work for negative and positive peace, for security and good relations to higher ups who want PGED. And to remove causes of war: unsolved conflicts and unreconciled traumas.”


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. Prof. Galtung has published 1670 articles and book chapters, over 470 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

 This is a shortened version of an article originally published on TMS: The Post Glory Exuberance Disorder-PGED.







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One Response to The Post Glory Exuberance Disorder-PGED

  1. LB says:

    Interesting post and insights, Kathie.

    Activist, former war correspondent, and current Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges wrote a book along similar lines, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning”:

    The reviews do a good job of summarizing the book and its main points.

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