PTSD In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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When a tragedy occurs, it has the power to provoke many different types of responses. Some people mourn a great amount, some go into a state of denial, and others may speak up and tackle it. In Slaughterhouse-Five, author Kurt Vonnegut introduces Billy Pilgrim as someone who was affected by the bombing of Dresden, and someone who is taken by Tralfamadorians (an alien species) to talk to him about their theories of time. There are many ways to react to a catastrophe, but the author emphasizes the significance of confronting it, and Billy Pilgrim does just that. This American classic anti-war novel is relevant to today because it puts a focus on the different reactions there are to tragic events that both Billy Pilgrim and real world people share; cognitive, emotional, and physical reactions.

Although it is not said directly in the book, it is obvious that Billy is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout the course of the novel. This signifies a cognitive reaction to a tragedy. Some symptoms of PTSD include loss of interest in activities, agitation, and emotional detachment (“What is PTSD”). Billy shows emotional detachment quite frequently in the book when he travels in time. One example of this is when Billy is traveling with the “Three Musketeers” through the German terrain.
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Billy Pilgrim and real world people share the same cognitive, emotional, and physical reactions. Throughout the novel, we can conclude that Billy suffers from PTSD, feels emotionally vulnerable, and struggles with the physical toll the war is taking on him. This is greatly connected to real life because people are actually diagnosed with PTSD, and many often feel the same way as Billy emotionally and physically. The reactions people have to tragedies can vary based on each unique person, but somehow they will always connect to our anti-war hero named Billy

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