There are many different kinds of psychiatric disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. One of them is called Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Based on the research, post-traumatic disorder usually occurs following the experience of witnessing life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, or serious accidents. Tim O’ Brien’s The Things They Carried and “A Soldiers Home” by Ernest Hemingway, these authors share their experiences and talk about the damaging effects of war. Though there is a plethora of disadvantages and hardships of going through PTSD, the disorder can be overcome with the help of others yes, but the person suffering from the disorder is the most important piece of the puzzle.
Tim O’Brien and Ernest Hemingway both have military backgrounds, which explain the emotion and passion they write with. The lingering effects of the war were a big part of Hemingway’s psychiatric disorders, which ultimately led him to commit suicide. O’Brien resented the fact that he was sent to the Vietnam War and the reader can completely tell in his book, especially the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story.” The emotional distress of what happened to these two authors while they were serving in the military must have done substantial damage to their brain.
Although many men and women who return from a war zone successfully adjust to their lives, others have difficulty transitioning to family life, to their jobs, and their communities. In the short story “A Soldiers Home”, Harold Krebs’ mother is worried about him after he comes home from the war because of his lackadaisical attitude about life and explains to him that it isn’t only she that is worried about him: “Your father is worried, too," his mother went on. "He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven't got a definite aim in life. Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. The boys are all settling down; they're all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community” (Hemingway 72). Like Hemingway, O’Brien has his own rendition of the effects of war on a soldier in The Things They Carried. He explains a story in which Rat Kiley and his fellow soldier Curt Lemon are in the jungle goofing off when suddenly Lemon steps on a mine and blows up into many pieces: When a guy dies, like Curt Lemon, you look away and then look back for a moment and then look away again. You tend to miss a lot and then afterward when you go tell about it, there is always that surreal seemliness, which makes the story seem untrue. (O’Brien 68)
Seeing these types of gruesome things happen with his own eyes can leave anyone scarred and hurt for the remainder of his life. Things like this should never have to be witnessed by anyone and it is things like this that cause PTSD.
In another instance, Mitchell Sanders tells a story of how a six manned patrol group is sent into the mountains on a basic listening post operation. The soldiers were told not to move or make a sound for seven days until they start hallucinating and hearing things as Sanders describes it: “They can’t cope. They lose it. They get on the radio and report enemy movement, a whole army, they say and they order up the firepower” (O’Brien 71). Just like in this scenario, Rat Kiley was a disturbed soldier, and in one instance he mutilated a baby water buffalo by shooting it numerous amounts of times in its body causing the animal to suffer a slow, long death. The soldiers around the scene were not shying away from this terrible incident but rather fascinated: “The whole platoon stood there watching, feeling all kinds of things, but there wasn’t a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo” (O’Brien 75). The fact that the platoon had just watched Lemon die and could almost identify with why Rat