I want the reader of this post to know that I am writing about the combat veteran with a severe form of PTSD. Not every combat veteran will fit this category, as a matter of fact most combat veterans do not fit this category. Even though most combat veterans will not experience this degree of symptomology, many will feel several of these symptoms and feelings.
To put a finger on what combat rage feels like and the disconnection between the veteran is problematic in that the separation from such disables the feeling of this affect. Try and imagine a time when you felt an extreme distance to your own feelings and envision, then expand it to a gulf. Now, the anger or rage we all have in us takes a matter of triggering by an extreme stress situation to disengage and embark on evolutionary defensive mechanisms; a survival fight or flight defense. Suppress the flight part and you are coming closer to the realization of fight or die, this switch goes off and now the training kicks in and you become guided by your warrior self, a world of black and white, a dichotomy of kill or be killed. Fueling this fire is the consumption of rage, anger multiplied, like an electromagnetic coil holding the boiling and broiling plasma of fear, rage and humanity in such a precise way as to be utilized to do what needs to be done. Kill or be killed without consideration of another's life other than yourself and your squad.
Now remove this person from the battlefield and look through his/her eyes and tell me of the total ambiguity and discord in society you see and now feel the fight within self to let loose the rage and exterminate all that does not fit the afore mentioned narrow field of forgotten battlefield schemata. Now the real battle begins, fighting for your life when you know the simple rules of kill or be killed verses and weighed against societies norms, now you can do nothing but feel the rage, fear and your humanity. But what do you do with it? Where do you put it?
In combat you project it into the enemy and forgot instantly as you spray lead through the use of controlled anger, rage and fear into a 'combat othering.' Othering is simply the development of placing oneself above another, the mechanism of wielding the tools of oppression in society, or death and destruction in the killing fields. In combat we place the supposed deserving of hot lead into the enemy, we place upon them the responsibility of our actions, we wholly demonize them to save our battle buddies and ourselves. Back in society we no longer have that repository to dump into, we now turn this shell we call a body into the demon, we become the demon, we are the demon. Now we perceive many threats everywhere, including the demon hosted by the facade of me. This conglomeration of selves is inadequate and maladjusted in regular society and can lead to chronically dissociating from self, community and society.
With chronic cycling through anger, rage, hyperarousal, and fear by a misattuned self regulator within the person, we can find ourselves succumbing to the demon without knowing why or how. Our world has been turned upside down and in combat we surrendered to this perspective, but back in society we still have this perception of the world that looks and feels "wrong" and having already adopted this vision in the battle zone, we still operate from this intense sense of right and wrong which triggers in us the demon. On the surface where we now reside we see only the ripples of a foreboding tsunami of emotions. The momentum of such a wave sends us roiling along until we hit the shallow end of coping and then seemingly out of nowhere the hundred foot wave rises above and rolls out over everything and everyone.
The veteran battling this probably does not understand it themselves. With regards to the rage and anger, this disconnect happens on several levels. One level we can feel it welling up and the fear entangles with it, which we can suppress most of the time, except that our loved ones will notice a difference in our demeanor and behavior. A deeper level we feel it slipping, sliding off uncontrollably, succumbing to an even deeper level, where all emotions and affect leaves and we switch over to our combat selves. We have checked out, no longer in command of our facilities and we have returned back to the killing field in all sensory levels except in body. Our mind smells, sees, hears, tastes and feels the acrid pending doom of combat, we have left our body and given over to the demon.
Hope this helped, it seems that the best way to describe it was through metaphors.