Ptsd: Vietnam War and Tim O’brien Essay

Submitted By Apphia16
Words: 841
Pages: 4


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can (destroy) ruin peoples lives causing them to be distant from the ones they love. Throughout the book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, O’Brien explains through his writing many issues in connection to the Vietnam War. His detailed views of the Vietnam War clearly show how he copes with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He goes into depth of the incidences that happen, showing the importance of that event while he was at war. O’Brien explains the different things he goes through, sometimes contradicting himself and even telling “lies”. In the book he explains that if he told his daughter he killed a man it’s the truth, but if he told his daughter that he did not kill a man it is also the truth. It’s understandably stated in the book that O’Brien would repeatedly write about the incidents that bother him to help him cope psychologically. Thus, PTSD is a bad disorder and causes O’Brien and many other soldiers to face emotional, mental, and physical problems. The effect of PTSD mentally has made a big impact in O’Brien’s life as well as the other soldiers in the Vietnam War. Just as any other war, PTSD is one of the many causes for suicide after the soldiers return home. When O’Brien’s friend Bowker has been home after returning for quite a while he decides that he is the reason for Kiowa’s death and kills himself. Before his death he sent letters to O’Brien to express how he felt and have relief by letting everything out just as O’Brien does in The Things They Carried. According to Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom, “upon returning to the United States both men and women Vietnam veterans suffered the same problems. Mentally because of these problems many veterans struggled to cope with symptoms like depression, flashbacks, nightmares, and angry outbursts” (Vietnam War Primary Sources). These symptoms can cause a person to commit suicide, act violent, or avoid people. For example after Ted Lavender died they called in a chopper to come pick up his body. In his book Tim O’Brien states Lieutenant Jimmy Cross led his men into the village of Than Khe. They burned everything. They shot chickens and dogs, they trashed the village well, they called in artillery and watched the wreckage, then they marched for several hours through the hot afternoon, and then at dusk, when Kiowa explained how Lavender died Lieutenant Cross found himself trembling (O’Brien pg15-16.)
This explains how PTSD has affected the soldiers in a bad way because of Lavender’s death. Their first reaction was to lash out on others because they had lost a good friend and fellow soldier. They destroyed what was meaningful to the people of the village in Than Khe to feel better (cope) due to the death of Ted Lavender. Just as the many other people suffering from PTSD, O’Brien and his friends had an act of violence to have relief. Statistics say that about 60 percent of mentally ill are involved in crime or violence (Does PTSD Cause Violence? Article from Badge of Life). Because of PTSD a person suffering from it