Psychological Defense Mechanisms In All Quiet On The Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front is widely considered to be the greatest war novel of all time for a variety of reasons, but perhaps one of the greatest is that raw and honest depiction of the psychological defense mechanisms soldiers used to deal with wartime trauma. From shameless humor and the blockage of emotions to playing games and scavenging for food, Paul and his company were often close to blocking out the savagery of war around them. Through a variety of different activities, soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front could come close to completely blocking out the war around them, but were unable to truly escape the horrid world they lived in. One of the most prominent psychological defense mechanisms used in the book can be found in Paul’s relations to his fellow soldiers. Distracting themselves with games and food took much weight off of their war-hardened shoulders. “Kat suggests a game of Skat. It’s easier when a man has something to do,” (111) is an excellent example of how the soldiers used games to entertain themselves. Distractions would save them from not just boredom, but insanity. The strong bonds found between Paul and his company also helped to create an environment where a man could …show more content…

“It is when one is alone that one begins to observe Nature and to love her,” (189) says Paul. He is so acclimated to the treachery of war, and yet underneath his thoughts, Paul understands, that in order to not slip into insanity, he must think only of the things that will help him survive. He does not ponder peace-time with any kind of certainty, and he rarely thinks of home in a longing manner. “We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in things no longer. We believe in the war,” (87) shows how deeply routine war has become for Paul, and his own unique understanding that he must accept it in order to

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