In my line of work, I see many things that are rightfully deemed troubling, or gross, or gory, or downright horrific. I'm not just talking about trauma to the human body, I'm talking about the messy business of growing old, or suffering from a degenerating medical condition with no economic means of rescue, or generally living under conditions that should not exist in a rich nation.
As I've written about before, my job has an uneasy relationship with suffering. I'm not a psychopath; even after many years, I haven't developed perfect emotional immunity to what I see. But I also like my job, and there's no denying that it's predicated on bad things happening to other people. A world without suffering would have no place for my skill set.
I've been working on a story about a man who comes from a world in which killing is integral to his culture. Violence is his skill set, and thus what he values. When pressed into battle to protect a peaceful people, he's unnerved by their weakness and disgusted by their need to rely on others to do their fighting for them. The collision between their cultures exposes what is monstrous in both of them.
Does witnessing horror turn us into monsters?