In many places in the world today there are civil violence and war-like conditions such that the people there live under the constant threat that each day may be their last. The strain of living in constant fear exacts a heavy emotional toll. People who might be healthy under peaceful conditions often develop severe emotional and psychosomatic illnesses. Sleep disorders, depression, suicide and stress-related medical problems are widespread. The most vulnerable and tragic victims are children born into an environment where death and destruction are the norm. Some children develop severe learning disabilities and become pathologically frightened and withdrawn.
Lebanon, El Salvador and Northern Ireland are examples of such zones of random violence. In the Balkans in 1993 gratuitous cruelty has characteristically accompanied the racial purging and persecution of civilians. Frequently this takes the form of frenzied sexual atrocities, mutilations and orgiastic killings. These are usually committed while the perpetrators are experiencing the effects of severe long-term, high-adrenalin stress and while under the conflicting "upper" and "downer" influences of alcohol and marijuana. Many men in war zones discover that sexual desire and performance deteriorate rapidly under sustained stress, in contrast to the experience of women. It has been suggested that massive chemical imbalances in the body could be inducing men to perform greater excesses in a bid to stimulate their dulled senses to some semblance of normality.