Theme Of Ptsd In The Things They Carried

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Post-traumatic stress disorder is a reoccurring issue throughout the book The Things They Carried. The author, Tim O’Brien, tells war stories of several different men from the same Alpha Company in Vietnam. The harsh reality of the effects of the Vietnam War is described through the feelings and long-lasting impact it had on soldiers. The emotional and physiological problems faced by war veterans is addressed throughout this whole novel. Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is something people develop after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. About 8 million people in the U.S. alone experience PTSD in a given year. It is estimated that about 8 out of every 100 U.S. citizens will develop PTSD sometime in their life. Thousands …show more content…
While reading “Speaking of Courage” you see the isolation and loneliness experienced by the Norman Bowker. The whole chapter is his flashback of the death of his friend “Kiowa.” He repeatedly mentions how he’d like to tell someone the story about it, but he has no one to tell it to that would understand. “There was nothing to say. He could not talk about it and never would...If it had been possible, which it wasn’t, he would have explained how his friend Kiowa slipped away…” (Tim O’Brien, Page 153). Bowker can’t seem to keep a job or finish school since being back home. He feels distant and isolated from the rest of the people in his town. He isn’t sure how to be normal in society anymore. By the end of the chapter notes we find out the Bowker committed suicide due to these issues he faced when returning from war. “There’s no place to go. Not just in this lousy little town. In general. My life, I mean. It’s almost like I got killed over in Nam. . . Hard to describe.” (Tim O’Brien, page 156). Studies show that PTSD can lead to depression or depression-like symptoms. This causes people suffering from the disorder to be at a greater risk for suicide. “Whereas some studies suggest that suicide risk is higher among those who experienced trauma due to the symptoms of PTSD (8-10), others claim that suicide risk is higher in these …show more content…
In “The Man I Killed”, “How to Tell a True War Story”, “Notes”, “Field Trip”, and others. The reader sees him struggle between the truth and fiction in his writing. His personal feelings take the place of others as he uses his writing as an outlet of the war. His detailed almost unrealistic descriptions of Vietnam is the only way he can cope with it. The story of the man he killed is a flashback that he couldn’t stop thinking about. Throughout the chapter he describes not only the man’s physical features, but his life besides the war. Many of the character traits O’Brien made up were very similar to himself. Later in the book he addresses the long backstory he made up for the man by saying “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened . . . and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but nonetheless help to clarify and explain.” (Tim O’Brien, Page

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