PTSD In A Separate Peace

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PTSD in A Separate Peace Soldiers coming home from war often develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health disorder caused by a traumatic event. People with PTSD can feel unsafe at home and often feel like they have never left the war zone. Leper, a character in A Separate Peace by John Knowles suffers from this disorder. Leper is an outcast at Devon, the school he goes to. He is bullied by his peers and only finds comfort when he is alone. Leper loves nature and slowly skiing through the countryside. So, when he is shown a propaganda movie about joining ski troops in the war, he decides to enlist. Soon after arriving at the training camp, Leper becomes paranoid. He experiences hallucinations and is quickly kicked out of the …show more content…

Leper’s traumatic experience in basic training lead to his PTSD: “PTSD has been described in adolescents exposed to war…”(Nair 3). War is very traumatic, as it is filled with violence, death, and destruction. Soldiers are taught how to kill others while also learning how to survive in the war. The violence can be very disturbing for the soldiers, and can cause them to develop PTSD. Also, new recruits are likely to be disaccustomed to the violence, as they are used to a peaceful environment. Leper is also new to the war, and is not used to the routines in basic training: “The camp I went to first, they called it a ‘Reception center,’ got us up every morning when it was pitch black, and there was food like the kind we throw out here, and all my clothes were gone and I got this uniform that didn’t even smell familiar”(Knowles 149). Evidently, Leper was not prepared for the war. He believed it to be fun and exciting when in reality, it was dangerous. Leper came from a peaceful, pampered background. He had good food everyday and did not have to wake early in the morning. But once he arrives at basic training, that all changes. Leper is not prepared for the drastic change and does not adapt. So, he eventually develops PTSD. To continue, Leper’s PTSD can be contributed to his bullying in school: “Complex PTSD…is found among individuals who have been exposed to prolonged traumatic circumstances …show more content…

Clearly, Leper has a symptom of PTSD called re-enactment while Gene is visiting him: “Diverse types of traumatic exposure result in a variety of symptoms, even within the categories of re- experiencing, re- enactment…”(Nair 40). Re-enactment is when a person has a flashback of their traumatic experience. They remember every second of their ordeal in vivid detail. It is often involuntary and is triggered by a memory. When a person has a flashback, they do not realize that the memory is not happening in real time. Leper experiences this while he and Gene are walking through the forest. Leper slips into a flashback about his time in basic training: “Leper’s voice had thickened unrecognizably, ‘he changed into a woman, I was looking at him as close as I’m looking at you and his face turned into a woman’s face…”(Knowles 150). Obviously, Leper is reliving his trauma at basic training and is having a flashback, a common symptom of PTSD. Gene causes Leper to recall traumatic memories, which triggers Leper’s re-enactment. Leper is involuntarily thrust into the flashback, and describes it all to Gene. Leper remembers how he was hallucinating and saw a woman’s face on a man’s body. Additionally, after Leper returns from basic training, he is on edge and irritable, which is another symptom of PTSD: “You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal”

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