PTSD In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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War has plagued humankind for as long as history cares to ever recount. With war, has always come burdens, which lay upon the shoulders and hearts of those cast into its maw. In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”, the men of Alpha Company yield prime examples of the withering effects of the Vietnam War on the soul, body, and mind. Among the many hefty burdens borne by the various men of Alpha Company, the death of a friend or comrade is perhaps the heaviest; overwhelming those who are unable to cope with afflictions like survivor’s guilt, sociopathy, and rage.

The list of damages from the Vietnam War is seemingly endless in length; with many of these relentless affectations falling under the ominous label of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. From a statistical standpoint, “About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their
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Between the two, the number of remaining living Vietnam veterans is steadily declining.

One crushing branch of PTSD is survivor’s guilt. This all-consuming syndrome eats away at one’s conscience and can make a soldier question their very right to still be drawing breath. “The Things They Carried” presents an incomprehensibly perfect example in the form of one Norman Bowker. Bowker carries all of the standard equipment and a diary, as well as the crushing guilt of ‘allowing’ a friend to die. In the shit field along the Song Tra Bong River, where the men set up camp only to be attacked later in the night, Norman watches as one of his squad mates and friends, Kiowa, is caught by a mortar shell. He rushes to save him from sinking into the muck, but even as he pulls on the man’s boot desperately trying to free him from the swallowing sludge, he is overwhelmed and gives up; he watches numbly as Kiowa’s boot sinks beneath the surface and the bubbles stop rising from its putrid depths. The

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