Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans Research Paper

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in War Veterans

Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans

Over the last several years, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been continually brought to the forefront. Simply put, this is when individuals will have a negative reaction to experiences that they have outside of every day life. This could include events such as: wars, accidents, violent acts, assaults and other extreme negative events that are outside the scope of normal human experiences. When someone is suffering from PTSD they will normally experience a number of different emotions when a thought or stressor is triggered, which causes the event to be relived all over again (only this time it is in the individuals mind). (Hunsley 293 -- 298) in the case of war veterans, these different emotions and feelings are constantly replayed in their minds, as they struggle to come to grips with the overwhelming amounts: death and destruction that they witnessed. To fully understand the underlying effects that PTSD will have on war veterans requires examining three pieces of literature to include: The Only Things They Carried (by O'Brien), Dulce et Decorrum (by Owen) and the Death of Ball Turret Gunner (by Jarrell). At which point, we will look at how this issue is: presented by the different authors, if their portrayals are realistic and how all three stories can improve knowledge on the underlying effects / causes of PTSD. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights as to how PTSD is affecting war veterans.

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An Examination of: The Only Things They Carried, Dulce et Decorrum and the Death of Ball Turret Gunner

TOPIC: Research Paper on Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans Assignment

All three pieces of literature highlight the underlying physical and psychological effects that PTSD can have on someone. Where, they show how in three different wars all of the main characters are wrestling with similar negative emotions, during the war or after the event. In the piece of literature titled, the Only Things They Carried, it talks about the story of First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross during the Vietnam War. Where, it shows the emotions he will go through in longing to be with someone that he was dating before going off to war, Martha. During the course of operations his unit encounters an ambush, causing one of his men (Lavender) to be killed. This is because of him allowing the men to be careless in their activities such as: leaving trash behind and not showing noise discipline at key moments. This had a profound impact upon Cross, as he would abandon his thoughts of Martha, by burning up her picture and making a determination to prevent such mistakes in the future. At which point, Cross will experience the physical and emotional burdens of the incident by: becoming more detached from the situation. This causes him to feel shame after Lavenders death knowing that he indirectly contributed to the situation. When they are waiting for the helicopter to pick up Lavender's body, the men smoke his marijuana and discuss how he was using pain killers. The underlying amounts of stress related events, would cause many of the men under Cross' command to engage in reckless decisions in the field. This is significant, because the different physical / emotional issues experienced by Cross and his men, shows the beginning of the lasting effects of PTSD. (O'Brein)

The portrayal of what takes place during the war; emphasizes a number of different emotional issues that are wrestled with by the group. To include: physical / emotional burdens, fear of shame, drug abuse and thoughts of suicide. This is a realistic portrayal, as the common emotions or reactions to different events will have an impact upon mental health of the individual. Evidence of this can be seen with some of most common symptoms of PTSD including: withdrawing from relationships / routine activity, numbing and feelings that the future will be short. (Hunsley 293 -- 298) in the Only Things They Carried, these different symptoms can be seen with Cross becoming detached, by abandoning his thoughts of Martha. Numbing is shown when the men are taking Lavender's drugs, while waiting for the helicopter. When the men engage in reckless decisions in the field, they believe that their futures will be short lived. This causes them to engage in actions that could be suicidal / negligent such as: taking unusual risks with their lives during combat. What this shows, is that Lieutenant Cross and his unit are experiencing the beginning signs of PTSD. With the death of Lavender, showing how Cross along with his men are being affected by what happened both emotionally and physically. (Hunsley 293 -- 298)

This story can provide a greater understanding of the issue, by establishing a basic foundation of the causes that could help contribute to onset of PTSD. At which point, more research can be conducted, to identify the common symptoms early and possible ways to treat this disorder in the field. If this can take place, those who are suffering from the condition could seek treatment, to mitigate the negative effects.

In the piece of literature titled, Dulce et Decorrum, it talks about what soldiers are experiencing during World War I. Where, the author discusses the hardships of war and the grind that it will take on those who are continuing to serve. Then, in the midst of this backdrop, a gas attack comes and increases fear. With one man suffering from the effects of the gas and is loaded into a medical wagon, with the author watching in horror what is taking place. This is significant, because it shows how war is a series of negative events that only continue to become exponentially worse, causing the overall amounts of fear to increase. At which point, these events will have an impact upon the individual, leading to PTSD. (Owen)

The portrayal of the events is an accurate, in highlighting the various triggers and emotions that were felt during World War I. Evidence of this can be corroborated with a study that was conducted on the effects of PTSD, by the New England Journal of Medicine. Where, they found that those who are exposed to traumatic events (even indirectly through events on television) have a 35% chance of having some form of PSTD. When the event is something that is directly tied to the person involved the odds increase dramatically, that someone will be affected by this condition. At which point, a series of events or reminders could trigger an emotional reaction from the person. What this shows, is that the authors exposure to the gas attack in World War I will have lingering effects on him, as the emotions and what he saw will continue to affect him in the future. (Yehuda)

This story can lead to greater understandings of the causes of PTSD, by helping to show how the emotions and the images that someone will see, can have an effect on them. As a result, mental health professionals could use these events and the intensity tied to them, to understand the overall amounts of suffering. At which point, they can begin reducing the overall amounts of negative emotions and unraveling those issues that could be affecting someone.

When you compare the different stories presented in: The Only Things They Carried and Dulce et Decorrum with one another. It is clear that the issue of PTSD is presented differently. With the Only Things They Carried, showing how the past memories of the event gives someone feelings of sadness and loss. However, as underlying amounts of death and destruction occur, these memories become to painful, which leads to mental and physical changes in the individual. While Dulce et Decorrum, shows how backdrop of war and escalating negative events, can bring about possible psychological changes because of PTSD. What the two pieces of literature highlight, is how a variety of factors can play a role in helping to develop this condition. At the same time, there will be the thoughts and emotions of the way things were; which helps to fuel these underlying negative thoughts that are being felt. Over the course of time, this will lead to dramatic changes in the personality of the individual, because of these elements.

In the piece of literature titled, the Death of Ball Turret Gunner, it highlights the lingering effects of PTSD on someone. Where, the author describes sitting in a gun turret of a bomber, during World War II. With him being home, then being back in the war surrounded by fighter planes that he must attack. During the course of the battle, the turret is exposed to enemy fire and the person dies. At which point, they talk about how the only reminiscence of them is the hose that washes the stains from their turret. This is significant, because it shows how negative events during the war, can continue to haunt someone years later. In this case, these memories are haunting this person, by constantly replaying the event in different ways.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans.  (2010, June 25).  Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans."  25 June 2010.  Web.  21 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in War Veterans."  June 25, 2010.  Accessed September 21, 2021.