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Myths and symbols as regulators of combat behavior

Significant mechanisms for regulating the behavior of combatants are myths and symbols.

Myth (from the Greek. Mythos - tradition, legend) - a story about gods, spirits, deified heroes and first ancestors that arose in primitive society. They intertwined the early elements of religion, philosophy, science and art.

Myths in a figurative sense are false, uncritical, divorced from reality states of consciousness, concept, representation. From the point of view of a resource approach to understanding the psychological capabilities of a combatant, myth is a kind of quasi-resource that allows you to find faith and motivation where it really is not.

In a combat situation, they can arise both spontaneously and transmitted through informal communication channels (the “soldier’s telegraph”), and can be purposefully formed by psychological support agencies.

The troops sometimes develop a whole system of myths. The study shows that the following topics are among the most popular myth themes in war:

• the imminent end of the war ("discontent is ripening in the enemy camp, which will result in a riot, a revolution"; "The UN General Assembly will decide ...");

• about an imminent victory ("they will enter the war ... and then ..."; "the development of a superweapon is being completed, which ..."; "now that the commander has become ...", etc.);

• on the defeat of large enemy groups;

• about the unprecedented exploits of the military personnel of his army;

Myths convoluted in their content, as generalized as possible, elevated to the rank of social or group value, become symbols.

A symbol (Greek symbolon - a sign, signal, sign, omen, pledge, password, emblem) is a sign associated with the objectivity designated by it so that the meaning of the sign and its object are represented only by the sign itself and are revealed only through its interpretation.

In an encyclopedic article, A. L. Dobrokhotov substantiates the specificity of a symbol and its function. He emphasizes that in contrast to a concept for which uniqueness is an advantage (compared, for example, with the word of a natural language), the strength of a symbol lies in its ambiguity and the dynamics of the transition from sense to meaning.

Unlike allegory and the emblem, a symbol is not an allegory, which is removed by substituting a direct meaning instead: the meaning of a symbol does not have a simple existence that could be referred to as an interpreting consciousness. In (unlike parable and myth, a symbol does not imply a detailed narrative and can have an arbitrarily compressed form of expression. Unlike a metaphor, a symbol can transfer the properties of objects and establish their correspondence not for the mutual description of these objects, but for reference to " indescribable. ”In contrast to the sign, the symbol is not a sign of the temporal or spatial phenomenon of supernatural reality, since it allows an infinitely large distance between itself and its intentional object [22].

Specific differences of the symbol from all the mentioned sign paths are its following functions:

1) the ability of a symbol to endlessly reveal its content in the process of correlation with its objectivity, while preserving and “irreversibility” of this symbolic form;

2) the ability of a symbol, associated with the experience of its interpretation, to establish communication, which, in turn, creates a (actual or potential) community of "initiates", that is, subjects in the field of action and the relative intelligibility of the symbols (for example, the church, direction in art, esoteric circle, cultural ritual; army, military branch); at the same time, the esotericity of the symbol is balanced by its “democracy”, since everyone can find his own level of understanding of the symbol, accessible to him, without falling into profanity;

3) the steady attraction of the symbol to the ascent from these "parts" to the real and alleged "whole".
The symbol in this case is the meeting place of that which in itself is not connected.

For example, today there are several peculiar myths about the hoisting of the Red Banner over the Reichstag in Berlin in April 1945. One of them says that the scouts of the 150th Infantry Division M.A. Yegorov and M.V. Kantaray did this. Indeed, at that time several banners were hoisted over the Reichstag and historians rack their brains over the determination of who to give the palm to. However, with the help of official propaganda, the symbol of the victory of Soviet troops over Nazi invaders in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. became the Victory Banner, erected precisely by Egorov and Kantaria.

Thus, the myth that tells about when, where, by whom and how specifically the Banner was installed turned into a symbol - the “Banner of Victory”.

The Star of the Hero of Russia does not mean much in itself, but, as a reflection of the feat, it acquires all the properties of the symbol.

The symbol of the war is the exploits of colleagues, honorary titles, belonging to a particular social group (for example, Heroes of Russia), specific victories of their troops, battle banners of military units, individual commanders, etc.

Given the fact that symbols are perceived as social value, attractive and emotionally contagious, arouse the desire to possess them, enter the social group of owners and, therefore, are able to produce motives for combat behavior and increase the combat activity of military personnel, commanders and military psychologists should carefully study spontaneously arisen and artificially create combat characters.

Rituals should be introduced into everyday combat life that would transform frustration, anxiety, despair (associated, for example, with unsuccessful battle, the death of military comrades, etc.) into a feeling of fierce hatred of the enemy, a passionate desire to take revenge, fear (arising, for example , while waiting for a fight) in a high offensive rush. Effective means of such transformations are rituals such as oaths on the graves of comrades-in-arms, mobilizing rallies before the battle, etc.

Thus, the fighting behavior of military personnel is deterministic. In his motivation, along with broad social, group and individual motives, superstition, the subjective products of the interpretation of myths and symbols of wartime are interwoven. To know and take into account the psychological mechanisms and the effects of their manifestation means in many ways to be able to control the combat activity of military personnel.

Questions for self-control

1. What is superstition?

2. How is superstition different from prejudice?

3. In what forms are superstitions manifested in a combat situation?

4. What is the psychological “trajectory” of the influence of rituals on the combat behavior of military personnel?

5. What is the regulatory nature of myths and symbols regarding the fighting behavior of warriors?

Additional literature for independent work on the topic

1. Bacon F. The New Organon. - L., 1935.

2. The Great Encyclopedia of Cyril and Methodius. - M., 2001.

3. Zakharik S. V. The formation of psychological stability in paratrooper soldiers to the influence of factors of modern combat (based on military operations in Afghanistan): Dis ... cand. psychol. sciences. - M., 1993.

4. Mezentsev V. A. About superstitions - seriously. - M., 1989.

5. Remarque EM. On the western front without change. - M., 1972.

6. Senyavskaya E.S. Psychology of war in the XX century: the historical experience of Russia. - M., 1999.

7. Soviet encyclopedic dictionary. - M., 1990.

8. Social psychology. Short essay / Ed. G.P. Predvechny, Yu. A. Sherkovin. - M., 1975.S. 307.

9. Spinoza B. Selected works in 2 volumes. - M., 1957. T. 2.

10. Shumkov G. E. Drunk courage, or alcohol in battle // Society of Adherents of Military Knowledge. 1909. No. 1.
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