How Does Billy Pilgrim Use Ptsd In Slaughterhouse Five

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Slaughterhouse-Five: An Escape from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder What does World War II and aliens have in common? Kurt Vonnegut tries to answer this peculiar question in his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969). For twenty-first century readers, it may seem obvious that serving in World War II had a significant impact on Billy Pilgrim’s mental health. Vonnegut, a veteran himself, knew of the psychological effects war and death can have on a person, and he was able to describe them through his cutting-edge novel. Although soldiers returning from war are commonly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) now, this was not the case back when this book was published. There was a similar disorder called “Da Costa’s Syndrome” during the Civil War, but the terminology of PTSD did not arise until after the Vietnam War (Iribarren, et al. 2). Since there were not any therapists or psychologists to treat Billy’s mental illness, he had to invent his own methods of coping. The two most prominent coping strategies are Billy’s repetition of the phrase, “So it goes,” after every mention of death, and his creation of the alien planet of Tralfamadore, both of which help him feel indifferent …show more content…

The first detail established in Slaughterhouse-Five is that Billy is “unstuck in time” and cannot focus on a particular day or event (Vonnegut 23). Billy’s time traveling is really his thoughts moving back and forth between the present and the past. Because of his overly active mind, Billy must use a vibrating mattress called the “Magic Fingers” to help him fall asleep (62). Instead of sleeping, he often weeps, which is one of the only times in the book he shows emotion (62). Billy’s lack of emotion can be construed as detachment. He is obviously suffering from a mental illness, and his tendencies match the symptoms of

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