The US Military concedes that any kind of combat leaves soldiers psychologically damaged and makes reintegration to society difficult.
The solution is to find individuals who are already so psychologically damaged the most horrendous combat experience will seem trivial by comparison. Better, find individuals psychologically damaged who’ve also experienced massive physical insult and trauma. Best, individuals psychologically damaged, physically traumatized, and emotionally vacant.
But where to find such individuals?
Captain James Donaldson suggests using massively abused and traumatized children as the basis, arguing “…they’ve already experienced more at home than they’ll ever experience in the field. All we need to is help their bodies catch up to where their psyches and emotions already are.
Nine individuals are selected for Augmentation and entered into combat.
The Story Behind the Story
People’s reactions to The Augmented Man fascinate me. Yes, the book reads like a military sci-fi thriller, and intentionally so. However, the real story is in the metaphor of the abused child.
Children from abusive families tend to think of themselves as monsters unworthy of love, hence the suffering they go through – often without even being aware that what’s happening to them isn’t normal, a “fish don’t know they live in water” kind of thing.
This monster self-concept is often reinforced by society which, not being able to recognize the child’s trauma, blames the child for its behaviors and problems.
So for me, the real meat of the story occurs when Trailer (the main character) uses everything he’s been taught (to be a monster) to heal himself from trauma, and then further when he realizes how much monsterhood he must retain in order to survive in a normal world.
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