Military maladjustment a psychosocial view
Disciplinary problems among members of the Armed Forces appear to be high (Glass et al., 1969; Atkinson, 1971 and Mirin, 1974). Over five years, (1968 - 1972) the U.S. Army saw increase of 90% administrative discharges for unfitness, unsuitability and misconduct (Nicholson et al., 1974). The pattern of disciplinary problems in peace time location include going away without official leave, (A.W.O.L.), failure to attend to military duty, sloven attendance to military duty, acts of aggression among peers and supervisors, alcohol plus drug abuse and misapplication/misappropriation of public property/funds, (Beary et al., 1983; Miller, 1984; Fox, 1974 and Friedman, 1972). Psychiatric disorders have been associated with disciplinary problems in the military situation. These include neurosis, psychosis, personality disorders and para-suicide (Ayugi, 1986; Mucha et al., 1970; Tucker et al., 1967 and Offenkrantz et al., 1957). Attempts at rehabilitation of the disciplinary maladju~ted soldier are rather disappointing (Colman et al., 1969; Robbins, 1967). This author studied disciplinary maladjustment, in Moi Air Base over a one year period, (1986). Data was collected on the type and nature of the disciplinary maladjustment. Personal, service, peer group and family factors likely to contribute to commission of military code infractions were evaluated. Among the 75 offenders studied, 37% were charged with A.W.O.L., 20% were charged with conduct to predudice of good discipline, 16% were charged with failure to perform military duties, 14% were charged with disobedience to standing orders, 7% were charged with quarrelling and fighting, 3% were charged with neglect of duty and miscellaneous offences relating to property each. Fifty-seven percent had a previous offence in the previous three months. Eighty-four percent of the offenders were privates, eight percent were corporals, four percent were sergeants and the remainder four percent were senior sergeants and above. Most (59%) were aged below 25 years with 97% being aged below 36 years. Majority (61%) were of secondary school education and above. Minority (47%) were in "soft jobs". Sixty-three percent had served the military for less than 6 years and 94% had served for less than 11 years. Most of them (48%) blamed themselves for the offences committed with only 24% blaming the military service. Seventy-five percent gave history of regular use of alcohol and 51% of the alcohol drinkers were positive for brief MAST, 77% had raised M.C.V. wher~as 30% had raised G.G.T. levels. Sixty-nine percent smoked cigarettes, 16% chewed miraa and 20% had tasted cannabis whereas 7% used tranquillisers, stimulants and cocaine. Thirty-nine percent had a psychiatric diagnosis:- of these 38% had neurotic depression, 24% personality disorders, 14% anxiety neurosis, 14% manic-depressive psychosis and the remainder had temporal lobe epilepsy, psychosomatic disorder, and drug induced psychosis; with a frequency of 3% each. Majority (56%) were married and 64% were married for less than nine years. Sixy-four percent had less than three children whereas 79% were geographically separated:fromtheir wives despite reported good marital harmony (69%). No significant poor relations with extendea family members were noted and there was no evidence of significant gen~tic loading for psychiatric illness in the offenders. Peer relationships were good (80%) while relationships with military supervisors were equivocal. It is hereby suggested that disciplinary maladjustment is a major concern of the military commander at any level. Any attempt to curb the problem is a-saving to the military and a contribution towards the creation of a cadre military force. Psychiatric evaluation of military offenders at the earliest possible occasion is suggested as a step in the right direction. This calls for the training of military medical personnel conversant with the evaluation of human behaviour at all levels. Psychiatrists well conversant with the nuances of the military subculture should be used as personnel officers/consultants for effective deployment of personnel in the military, both in command and otherwise, to minimize the "square-peg-in-a-round-hole" phenomenon with resultant failure to adjust to military life.