Suppressing emotions, rather than expressing them, has generally been the modus operandi for the US Army.
The New York Times reports that, working with Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the fathers of positive psychology, the Army is now requiring 1.1 million of its soldiers to take intensive training in emotional resiliency. The new program is modeled on techniques that have been tested mainly in middle schools where studies have shown that the techniques can reduce mental distress in some children and teenagers.
Some doubt whether mental toughness can be taught in the classroom but how can role-playing and learning different ways of examining thought patterns in a safe, controlled environment not be helpful? This is the kind of example that inspires hope that training makes a difference:
One, a veteran of several deployments to Iraq, said he was out at dinner the night before when a customer at a nearby table said he and his friends were being obnoxious.
“At one time maybe I would have thrown the guy out the window and gone for the jugular,” the sergeant said. But guided by the new techniques, he fought the temptation and decided to buy the man a beer instead. “The guy came over and apologized,” he said.