PTSD And Flashbacks In Slaughterhouse Five's Slaughterhouse Five

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Billy Pilgrim, while not the narrator of Slaughterhouse Five, is the main “character”. Character is used loosely when describing Billy because he doesn’t choose what happens to him throughout the entire book. He is forced to watch horrific events unfold because he is too weak to be active. Billy Pilgrim has suffered a lot in the book and has flashbacks, that is described as becoming unstuck in time. This feeling of being unstuck in time seems to be caused by PTSD and schizophrenia.
Billy Pilgrim describes his flashbacks as “being unstuck in time”. He could jump from any memory to any memory. Ironically, the jumping mostly happened when he was near death behind enemy line. It was at this point that he would jump backward or forward. It seems
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He has nightmares, which come out during the train ride to the POW camp. Everyone pushes him away when he tries to sleep because he whimpers and kicks. In chapter 3, when a siren goes off he jumps and expects World War 3 to break out. It’s not just these two signs that appear to show us Billy suffers from PTSD. The entire book is based on flashbacks to horrific past experiences. His flashbacks started after a plane crash where only he survived. This developed to PTSD which escalated more during war. He had gone through multiple traumatic experiences in his life; from nearly drowning as a child to the plane crash to losing his parents and wife to war. It made sense that he would suffer from PTSD. During a time that he needed to forget where he was and what was going on around him he had flashbacks, however most the time they were to other terrible …show more content…
He was abducted by green aliens who brought him to a planet where time didn’t exist. “It can’t be detected from Earth” Billy explains in the book. This book is nonfiction which means that this planet could really exist in the book, however it could also be an indication that he has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is an illness that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences. To these people unreal experiences can trigger real emotions and response to situations. The first line of the book is the main indicator that Billy suffers from this mental disorder, “All this happened, more or less.”. Vonnegut is entertaining the readers to decide for themselves which events are real and unreal. Vonnegut even mentions schizophrenia in the beginning of the book, “This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenia manner of tales of the planet Traflamadore, where the flying saucers came from.”. When he his hospitalized in a mental institution, they claim he is there because he nearly drowned at a YMCA when his father just threw him in the pool. Scientists say that schizophrenia is usually developed/triggered with a negative childhood experience, such as Billy’s near drowning experience. Schizophrenia appears predominantly during depressing or terrible catastrophes. It is always during those times that he becomes unstuck in time. There is one last indication of

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