Dave Grossman (author)

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David Allen Grossman (born August 23, 1956) is an American author and law enforcement trainer who has specialized in the study of the psychology of killing, a proposed subset of psychology focused on the study of the effects of killing on the human psyche. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army.

Early life and military career[edit]

Grossman was born in Frankfurt, West Germany on August 23, 1956. His career includes service in the U.S. Army

Law enforcement training[edit]

Following his retirement from the Army, Grossman founded the Killology Research Group to educate law enforcement officers and soldiers how to improve outcomes in lethal encounters. Grossman is best known for his police training program, based on the self-coined study of "killology", which aims to reduce officers' psychological inhibition to kill suspects. Grossman describes a facet of his training as it relates to the human reluctance to kill as "making it possible for people to kill without conscious thought."[1]

Grossman also speaks at civilian events on ways to reduce violence in society and deal with the aftermath of violent events such as school shootings.[2] As a civilian Grossman has served as an expert witness in numerous state and federal court cases and was part of the prosecution team of United States vs. Timothy McVeigh.[3]


Grossman's first book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society is an analysis of the psychological processes involved with killing another human being. In it, he reveals evidence that most people have a phobia-level response to violence, and that soldiers need to be specifically trained to kill. In addition, he details the physical effects that violent stresses produce on humans, ranging from tunnel vision, changes in sonic perception, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Robert Engen, in a paper for the Canadian Military Journal critiquing On Killing, both praised and criticized Grossman's works, saying: "On Killing and On Combat form an excellent starting point, there are too many problems with their interpretation for them to be considered the final word on the subject."[4] Grossman's response to Engen, printed in the same journal, addressed the criticisms by arguing that SLA Marshall's findings,[What findings?] even after having doubt cast on their methodology, have borne out in further scientific studies and real world experience[citation needed], and furthermore, “have been the cornerstone of military and police training for over a half century.” [5]

In Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, Grossman argues that the techniques used by armies to train soldiers to kill are mirrored in certain types of video games. The conclusion he draws is that playing violent video games, particularly light gun shooters of the first-person shooter-variety (where the player holds a weapon-like game controller), train children in the use of weapons and, more importantly, harden them emotionally to the task of murder by simulating the killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents in a single typical video game. Grossman uses blunt language that draws the ire of gamers—during the heights of video game controversy, he was interviewed on the content of his books, and repeatedly used the term "murder simulator" to describe first-person shooter games.[6][7]

His third non-fiction book, On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace, is an extension of the first, intended to provide coping strategies for dealing with the physiological and psychological effects of violence for people forced to kill in their line of work (soldiers and police officers).[8]


In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests, Grossman's message received criticism from a number of sources as pushing policing in America in the wrong direction and encouraging unnecessary use of force.[9] University of Nebraska criminal justice professor Samuel Walker characterized Grossman's training as "okay for Green Berets but unacceptable for domestic policing. The best police chiefs in the country don’t want anything to do with this.”[10] Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned "fear-based training", a designation that included Grossman's seminars, in 2019.[11]



  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (1995) (ISBN 0-316-33000-0)
  • Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence (1999) (ISBN 0-609-60613-1)
  • On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace (2004) (ISBN 0-9649205-1-4)
  • Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing (2016) (ISBN 978-0-316-26593-5)
  • Bulletproof Marriage: A 90-Day Devotional by Adam Davis and Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (2019) (ISBN 978-1424557592)


  • The War with Earth (2003) (ISBN 0-7434-9877-1) (with Leo Frankowski) Book two of the series starting with Frankowski's A Boy and his Tank.
  • The Two-Space War (2004) (ISBN 1-4165-0928-3) (with Leo Frankowski) New series.
  • Kren of the Mitchegai (2005) (ISBN 1-4165-0902-X) (with Leo Frankowski) Book three of the series starting with A Boy and his Tank.
  • The Guns of Two-Space (2007) (with Bob Hudson) Book two of the series starting with The Two-Space War.
  • Sheepdogs: Meet Our Nation's Warriors (2013) (with Joey Karwal, and Stephanie Rogish)

Entries in scholarly reference works[edit]

  • Grossman, D., "Aggression and Violence," in Oxford Companion to American Military History, Oxford Press, 2000.
  • Grossman, D., "Evolution of Weaponry," in Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, Academic Press, 2000.
  • Grossman, D., & Siddle, B.K., "Psychological Effects of Combat," in Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, Academic Press, 2000.
  • Murray, K.A., Grossman, D., & Kentridge, R.W., "Behavioral Psychology," in Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, Academic Press, 2000.
  • Grossman, Dave, "Two Lessons from Jonesboro: Conducting Critical Incident Debriefings and the Role of Television in Feeding the Need for Enemies".


  1. ^ "Frontline: The Soldier's Heart". PBS. November 22, 2004. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  2. ^ Corney, Madison. "Lt. Col. Dave Grossman talks violence prevention". NBC. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014.
  3. ^ Freeman, Sharon Morgillo; Moore, Bret A; Freeman, Arthur, eds. (June 3, 2009). Living and Surviving in Harm's Way: A Psychological Treatment Handbook for Pre- and Post-Deployment of Military Personnel. Taylor & Francis. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-135-85934-3.
  4. ^ Engen, Robert. "Killing for Their Country: A New Look At 'Killology'". Canadian Military Journal. 9 (2). Archived from the original on 21 July 2011.
  5. ^ Government of Canada, Department of National Defence; Government of Canada, National Defence. "SLA Marshall Revisited?..." www.journal.forces.gc.ca.
  6. ^ Crawford, Garry (August 4, 2011). Video Gamers. Routledge. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-135-17887-1.
  7. ^ Chalmers, Phil (2009). Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer. Thomas Nelson Inc. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-1-59555-152-8.
  8. ^ Wardrip-Fruin, Noah; Harrigan, Pat (January 2004). First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-262-23232-6.
  9. ^ https://deadline.com/2020/06/last-week-tonight-with-john-oliver-george-floyd-protests-police-reform-black-lives-matter-1202953155/
  10. ^ Schatz, Bryan. ""Are You Prepared to Kill Somebody?" A Day With One of America's Most Popular Police Trainers". Mother Jones. Mother Jones. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  11. ^ George Floyd death puts spotlight on 'warrior training' for police

External links[edit]