PTSD is a condition that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of anything that reminds the person of the trauma.
The Things They Carried is a novel by Tim O’Brien that tells the story of a group of soldiers during the Vietnam War. The novel includes several passages in which the characters discuss their experiences with PTSD.
For example, one character, Kiowa, describes how he sometimes has nightmares about the war. He says that he’ll wake up sweating and shaking, and he’ll try to scream but no sound will come out.
Another character, Rat Kiley, describes how he sometimes hears voices and sees things that aren’t really there. He says that the doctors told him it was just his imagination, but he knows that what he’s seeing and hearing is real.
PTSD can be a very debilitating condition, but it is also one that is often misunderstood. The Things They Carried helps to shed some light on what it is like to live with PTSD.
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a complex fiction composed by a Vietnam veteran, which depicts visual representations of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Speaking of Courage,” “The Man I Killed,” “How to Tell a True War Story,” “Enemies” and “Friends,” and the novel’s title poem all deal with examples of PTSD.
PTSD is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a statement or event that causes psychological trauma. This can be the result of experiencing or witnessing something traumatic, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault (American Psychiatric Association). In The Things They Carried, O’Brien elaborates on the different types of psychological trauma soldiers experienced during the Vietnam War.
For instance, in “The Man I Killed,” O’Brien vividly describes how he killed a Vietcong soldier and then had to carry his dead body for miles. The experience caused him great remorse and guilt, leading him to develop PTSD.
In “Speaking of Courage,” O’Brien tells the story of Norman Bowker, a fellow veteran who committed suicide after returning from the war. The novel provides insight into how soldiers dealt with post-war trauma and how it often led to depression and suicide.
“How to Tell a True War Story” is another example of PTSD in The Things They Carried. In this chapter, O’Brien describes how a friend of his, Rat Kiley, was so traumatized by the war that he started randomly shooting at civilians. The event caused great psychological damage to Rat Kiley, leading him to develop PTSD.
“The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” is yet another story that highlights the psychological effects of war on soldiers. In this chapter, O’Brien tells the story of how a young woman named Mary Anne Bell was so traumatized by the war that she became mentally unstable and started acting like a wild animal. The event caused great psychological damage to Mary Anne Bell, leading her to develop PTSD.
Thus, The Things They Carried provides readers with insight into the different types of PTSD that soldiers can experience. These stories show how the Vietnam War can lead to long-term psychological problems for those who have experienced it.
The veterans were emotionally broken from the war and feltlet down when they got back home. All thoughts of pursuing their dreams or furthering their lives disappeared. They came back to a completely different world; one that was full of disappointment, darkness, and emptiness instead of the loving homes and families they left behind.
These men find themselves lonely and lost in their own homes, with no one to truly understand what they have been through. It is not until later that society begins to diagnose soldiers returning from the Vietnam War with a new mental health condition: posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault (Mayo Clinic). Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event (Mayo Clinic).
Many of the symptoms of PTSD are present in The Things They Carried, which is a collection of short stories by Tim O’Brien about his experiences in the Vietnam War. For example, in the story “The Man I Killed”, O’Brien describes how he killed a Vietnamese man and then had to carry his body back to the base:
“His jaw was in his throat, his teeth were revealed, and blood was coming out of one nostril. But he still had legs. He was still human” (O’Brien 24). This gruesome scene haunts O’Brien for the rest of his life, and he often has nightmares about it.
The physical and emotional betrayal they experience leaves them feeling defeated, without any trust to fall back on. There is nothing there to revive their exhausted minds or give them a sense of security.
Many war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is characterized by recurrent nightmares, hypersensitivity, avoidance behavior, and intrusive thoughts and memories. Even when partners are supportive, the horrors of war often haunt veterans in their sleep or during daydreaming.
The book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, is a compilation of stories based on the Vietnam War that includes a variety of characters, all dealing with different types of traumas. Some suffer more than others and some find ways to cope while others do not. The novel does an excellent job of portraying the different types of traumas the characters face and how those traumas affect them both during and after the war.
Many of the soldiers in the novel suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the main symptoms of PTSD is recurring nightmares. The protagonist, Tim O’Brien, suffers from these types of nightmares. In one instance, he dreams that he is back in Vietnam and his unit is ambushed. He tries to warn them but no one will listen to him. The dream is so real that when he wakes up he “can still hear the screams” (O’Brien, 225).