(An excerpt from War and the Soul, By Edward Tick, Ph.D.)
A Warrior is not just one who has been to war and returned. Warrior has been recognized as a social role that has occurred since the beginning of time. Becoming a warrior is an achievement of character. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can use the ideal of warriorhood as a guide for healing.
What are the characteristics of the Warrior? The ideal Warrior is assertive, active and energized. He or she is clear-minded, strategic, and alert. A warrior uses both body and mind in harmony and cooperation. A warrior is disciplined. A warrior assesses both his own skills and resources and those of his opponent. A warrior is a servant of civilization and its future – guiding, protecting, and passing on information and wisdom. A warrior is devoted to causes he judges to be more important than himself or any personal relationships or gain. Having confronted death, a warrior knows how precious life is and does not abuse or profane it.
Each of these traits has shadow dimensions as well, which can emerge when the warrior is imbalanced, inadequately trained, or traumatized. Shadow traits may include aggression, vengefulness, or cruelty. Instead of exercising discipline and control, the warrior may show wildness, emotional explosiveness, and impulsivity. He may be hypersexual and compulsive. At his shadowy worst, the warrior becomes masochistic or sadistic. These traits they are commonly unleashed during warfare. But they do not embody the ideal Warrior’s virtue.
The Warrior ideal needs specific conditions to be realized successfully. Initiates need to experience a complete process from training through proving. The process begins early with children listening to warrior stories from their families and culture and then playing warrior games. Later, through formal and informal means, elders guide young people in developing the skills and awareness of warriorhood. Initiates are tested in numerous ways. Their ultimate test traditionally comes in battle. If they survive, the test must be repeated as long as they are required or able to serve. Through that survival and successful service, they prove themselves worthy of being deemed one of their culture’s warriors.Read More