Linking the US Military, Psychopharmaceuticals & Global Counterinsurgency

Research Paper Title

Pharmaceutical Creep: U.S. Military Power and the Global and Transnational Mobility of Psychopharmaceuticals.

Abstract

In 2006, the United States Department of Defence developed for the first time official criteria for the use of psychopharmaceuticals “in theatre” – in the physical and tactical spaces of military operations including active combat.

Based on fieldwork with Army soldiers and veterans, this article explores the transnational and global dimensions of military psychopharmaceutical use in the post-9/11 wars.

The author considers the spatial, material, and symbolic dimensions of what they call “pharmaceutical creep”-the slow drift of psychopharmaceuticals from the civilian world into theatre and into the military corporate body.

While pharmaceutical creep is managed by the US military as a problem of gatekeeping and of supply and provisioning, medications can appear as the solution to recruitment and performance problems in theatre.

Drawing on soldiers’ accounts of medication use, the author illuminates the possibilities, but also the frictions, that arise when routine psychopharmaceuticals are remade into technologies of global counterinsurgency.

Reference

Chua, J.L. (2019) Pharmaceutical Creep: U.S. Military Power and the Global and Transnational Mobility of Psychopharmaceuticals. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. doi: 10.1111/maq.12520. [Epub ahead of print]

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