War and the family

Authors


Abstract

Although war can impose powerful stresses on family relationships and functions, and its horros have been described since Euripides wrote The Trojan Women, the subject has received little scientific study. The American Civil War had significant effects on the family and increasing industrialization further disrupted family ties and transformed women's roles. Twentieth-century wars have had both immediate and delayed effects on the family, ranging from anxiety and grief about losses and separations to increased antisocial behavior and juvenile delinquency. Subsequent problems stem from readjustments to civilian life, high divorce rates and women assuming more powerful roles in the family and society. Analysis of a random sample of child guidance clinic records 1923-1983 revealed an increase in children's academic problems and aggressive behaviors during and after World War II. Increases in anxiety and obsessive and aggressive behaviors were evident following the Vietnam conflict along with the adverse effects of post traumatic stress disorder on family life. Although US participation in the Gulf War was limited, disruptive effects were seen in the children of affected military families, and for Iraqi children the consequences were devastating. War generally accelerates dormant changes in family life not yet fully apparent or appreciated.

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