PTSD In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Dangerous and intense situations typically lead to certain devastating consequences to a persons both emotional and physical health. As result of these experiences, there is often not only exterior injuries, but also the non visual psychological damage that is just as hard, if not harder, to resolve. One commonality throughout all wars is this unseen casualty known as PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Tim O’Brien, veteran of the Vietnam war, demonstrates how PTSD affects soldiers in countless ways in his novel The Things They Carried. He uses fictional but lovable characters that readers can easily relate to, intensifying their emotional engagement in the book. On the other hand, outsider and journalist David Finkel shows the true grit …show more content…

Rat Kiley, medic and soldier, who identifies as a savior of lives, but after one game gone wrong, he accidentally takes one. After passing a live grenade to Curt Lemon and killing him, Kiley “lost his best friend in the world,” and takes his anger on a water buffalo and goes “automatic. He shot randomly, almost casually”(O’Brien 75). Although this act of violence seems random, it shows the effects of death and how it comes up in different ways for these mentally tormented soldiers. After causing the death of his friend, Kiley couldn’t cope so he inflicted his anger onto the closest thing available. This shows his poor mental state after loss, which comes up in many soldiers, especially if death is caused by their own hands. Another way death is taken into their own hands is by taking their own life. Norman Bowker, a man obsessed with other opinions and drowning in despair after watching his comrade drown, can’t live with himself after believing that he caused another to die. Post coming home from the war, and after not being able to live with the guilt, Norman “hanged himself...his friends found him hanging from a water pipe… There was no suicide note, no message of any kind”(O’Brien 154). Norman’s absence of a note truly exhibits how unable he was to express his terrible situation, and without the proper …show more content…

The inability to communicate their losses and their pain is not only shown in violence, but a disconnect to their loved ones after coming home. After returning from the war, “they lost sight of how different the Iraq war was in Iraq than it was in the United States. To them, it was about specific acts of bravery and tragedy. The firefight in Fedaliyah--- That was war. Three dead inside a fireball on predators--- What else could a war be?” (Finkel 79). Soldiers find it hard to reconnect with loved ones after the war, like Norman who’s dad was only obsessed with him getting a medal. People in the U.S. and outside of the war don’t have the same idea of what’s going on compared to the people actually experiencing it firsthand. This disconnect makes it hard for the military men to explain their experience and how one small death or win out of thousands can be so significant to them, when people on the other side see it as one of a million casualties. The war is not personified as it is with the soldiers who actually lived through it. Another soldier who feels detached from reality is Adam Schumann, who was put on countless medications to fix him with no help. After the war, Schumann has “lost all hope” and can’t live with himself, feeling that “the end is near for (him), very, very near. Day by

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