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Psychology Team Takes on a Difficult Mission

Read  "PSU professor travels to Afghanistan for 'MIND ZONE,' a new documentary on combat stress"on OregonLive  

     Dr. Jan Haaken, professor emeritus of psychology, a clinical psychologist and documentary filmmaker, embedded with troops in Afghanistan last summer to shoot a documentary on stress in war zones.  

     “MIND ZONE: Therapists Behind the Front Lines” tells the story of how mental health professionals in the military manage their competing missions of both maintaining the fighting forces and preventing psychiatric casualties. 

     Currently in post-production, "MIND ZONE" follows therapists with the 113th Combat Stress Control unit in Kandahar as they train for their missions and reflect on the haunting question of whether this application of psychology is helpful or hurtful to soldiers. As they arrive to replace the previous Combat Stress Control unit, they learn the gravity of the tasks ahead and face daunting dilemmas in carrying out their dual roles as soldiers and healers.

     A team of advanced psychology students has worked on the project, including Tessa Palmer, Darryl James, Mariel Stadick, Ryan Abott, Megan Cobb, William Rector, and Joseph Van der Naald. From winter 2011 through this fall, the team has worked in roles from pre-production research, production assistance during filming, to post-production transcribing, coding, and scriptwriting. One academic paper has been submitted for publication and others are in development. The team also presented a panel on October 24th, 2011 at the Eco-Psychology conference at Lewis & Clark College.

     MIND ZONE is being carried out through the PSU Foundation and with the support of individual donors and foundation grants. To learn more about the project and how to contribute, go to the website at, or give at . The team expects to schedule a community screening of a rough cut in March, 2012, before locking down the project. Distribution will be through Herzog & Company.