Dehumanization is the act or process of reducing people to objects that do not deserve the treatment accorded humans. Exposure to brutality and killing in war often causes dehumanization.
Dehumanization can be remarkably effective in protecting people's mental adjustment. Dehumanization does not always insulate the self from guilt, however, and its failure to do so can bring severe consequences.
During the war while soldiers are surrounded by buddies who agree that the enemy is less than human and deserve to be brutalized, it is easier for such definitions to remain intact.
After returning home, the dehumanizing definitions can break down, and many soldiers find themselves disturbed by what they did during the war.
Four main characteristics of Dehumanization: -
1.Increased emotional distance from others. People stop identifying with others, no longer seeing them as having qualities similar to themselves. They perceive them as "the enemy," or as objects of some sort. Sometimes they think of their opponents as less than human, or even not as people at all.
2. Emphasis on following orders. The individual do acts of brutality in patriotic language. Torture is viewed as a tool that helps soldiers do their duty.
3. Inability to resist pressures. Ideas of morality take a back seat to fears of losing job, losing the respect of peers, or having integrity and loyalty questioned.
4. A diminished sense of personal responsibility. People come to see themselves as only small cogs in a large machine. The higher-ups who give the orders are thought to have more complete or even secret information that justifies the torture.