PTSD In The Things They Carried Essay

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in The Things They Carried
During the turbulent times of the Vietnam War, thousands of young men entered the warzone and came face-to-face with unimaginable scenes of death, destruction, and turmoil. While some perished in the dense Asian jungles, others returned to American soil and were forced to confront their lingering combat trauma. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried provides distinct instances of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and reveals the psychological trauma felt by soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD for short, is the most common mental illness affecting soldiers both on and off the battlefield. According to the American Psychiatric Association DSM-V, PTSD can stem from a direct experience with a traumatic event or being a witness to traumatic events. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are derived from four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in mood, and negative alterations is arousal and reactivity (“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder”).
Symptoms of “intrusion” are characterized by recurrent, involuntary memories, nightmares, or flashbacks with or without stimuli. In The Things They Carried, Kiowa, a soldier in Lt. Cross’ platoon, regularly recounts the events leading up to the death of Ted Lavender. In one scene, Kiowa describes
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Negative alterations in mood, arousal, and reactivity often display as persistent, distorted and negative beliefs; distorted blame; constricted affect; and/or irritable, aggressive behavior. Mitchell Sanders exhibits increased arousal towards aggression and hostility when confronted with the corpse of a young Viet Cong, choosing to “…put his hand on the boy’s wrist” and use “Kiowa’s hunting hatchet to remove the thumb” (77). To the reader, this action is unnecessary, but to a soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder this is a routine

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