Portrayal Of The Heavy Ptsd Condition In The Movie American Sniper
The film American Sniper was created based on the real-life story of the American sniper Chris Kyle. He holds the highest number of the approved killings of about 160 and he has killed more than 250 in operation Freedom Ira (Coughlin and Bruning,2015). Kyle was deployed in Iraq four times where he experiences the death of his friends, he kills people, including a child and a mother and also has a near experience to death. While acting as a hero, during the deployment sessions; he could not face the horrors war and his actions when he went back home. He is seen to suffer from the experiences of combat, which makes him drawn away from his wife and family.
Post Traumatic Symptom Disorder is a condition that develops after one has gone through or witnessed a stressing or a traumatic event. Using the character of the movie American Sniper, Chris suffers from Post Traumatic Symptom Disorder which is evident. The sniper which coupled with the extreme response to a stressor, including anxiety, emotional numbing, or avoiding the stimuli that are associated or look like the stressor. The disorder is also as a result of being involved or is related to a traumatic experience, which leads to the feeling of helplessness.
The symptoms of PTSD could be categorized as either intrusively re-experiencing the events, avoiding the stimuli, moods and cognitive changes and increased reactivity. An individual could display the symptoms in all the categories or just in some, either way; they have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The American Sniper suffered from intrusive thinking and images which were triggered by sounds that resembled those of the traumatising events. He became easily irritable with high vigilance and at times could lose concentration.
Using the DSM-5 criteria for Post Traumatic Stress disorder diagnosis, it was easy to confirm whether the character suffered the PTSD or not. The first step involved the identification of the traumatic event. The PSTD is a condition that first begins with a traumatic event, Kyle the experienced sniper had witnessed a lot during the battles in Iraq, where he had taken almost four trips. In one instance, for example, after questioning a man in some hours, the terror group leader bangs off the man’s house and torture his son while everyone is watching using a drilling machine. The terrorist drills through the legs of a screaming boy and later drill into his skull and shoots the father while warning the others against talking to American soldiers.
This event was traumatic to Chris and later when he goes to a store and meets a friend he feels disturbed by the sounds of the driller used by a man who was fixing electrons beside him. The sound sends back to that event. In another instance, Kyle was forced to shoot a child that was about to kill the American soldiers and also sees his friends dying in the shoot outs. From the experiences of Chris, it was clear that he went through traumatic episodes which warranted the symptoms he later had and his inability to function normally when he got back into the country.
From the second step of DSM-5, the character was positive; he was suffering intrusion symptoms. Chris was greatly affected by his past experiences from the places he was deployed as a soldier. He hears noises and especially disturbed by those that resemble the gunshots and other adventures in the warzone. Further in other steps of DSM-5, he also showed alteration in his cognition, reactivity, numbness and had mood swings. In a series of events in one setting, he almost killed a dog. He becomes disconnected from his wife and family with a lot of mood changes and unpredictability. In a given event in the bar, Chris Kyle broke into tears. In a particular scene in the film, Chris Kyle shoots a child and a woman. It’s why he finds it difficult to face his family and tell them that he has been doing a good thing. We are shown a man, despite the praises and accolades he receives as a hero of all times, the film shows us a man who is wrecked and detached from his home environment.
Kyle, in the film, claims that he only gets injuries when in peaceful areas, and he has the desired to go back in the war-torn regions. The symptoms of the post-traumatic disorder include the feeling of guilt, shock, nervousness, anger and general inability to control one’s emotions either overreacting to some things or to remain passive. While for most people, reactions to past traumatic experiences could last for some time, people who have PTSD have long-lasting symptoms and at times, grow strong. From the movie American Sniper, Chris Kyle displays post-trauma symptoms for some time and later recovers from it something, however that can be attributed to his personality.
Ideally, PTSD is caused by experiences that one goes through, which induces fear in them and the feeling of helplessness. However, the condition is linked with other numerous risk factors among them genetics, amygdala, childhood experience and negative effects of an event. The American sniper was affected by the events in the Iraq war. His problem became more serious when he went to Iraq for the third and the fourth time. Further other unique factors associated with PSTD is the severity of the trauma. The causal factor is evident from the experience of the American Sniper. He watched his friends die, killed children and women and also watched people die in the worst way possible. In one event as they raided a terrorists’ hideout the found human body parts; people cut into various parts including head, hands and legs. They also found a body hunged in chains after intense torture.
He watched children not going to school and changing from innocent creatures to terrorists. He also had episodes of near-death which lingered for long in his mind. The severity of these experiences and the emotions involved were too intense that it was easy for anyone to suffer trauma. Such trauma-related disorders are associated with one’s life attitude, which is a product of genetics and environment. Kyle is seen as a strong man; he goes through a lot and despite the gravity of the trauma, he manages to recover from it due to his hard work.
The symptoms of PTSD are as a result of learning, which is a means of survival for all living species. Learning for humans and especially children, occurs through experiences that register the stimuli and allow the body to interpret then react accordingly. PTSD as a form of learning occurs during and after the traumatic event and can be associated with associative or non-associative forms (Lissek, & van, 2015). When an individual learns about a specific stimulus, they develop the best way of dealing with it.
After a traumatic episode, neutral events manage to trigger anxiety that is associated with a traumatic experience. This is because the body grows vigilante highly as a way of protecting individuals from previously suffered harm. Therefore post-trauma symptoms always involve episodes of rethinking the events as a way of trying to evaluate what was done wrong and keep in mind the little triggers that bring in protection against the harmful events. Individuals are thereby full of self-blame and rethinking that things could be better.
On the other hand, in non-associative learning suppresses the fear conditioning, which is focused on avoiding experiencing the same event. In this case, anxiety is bred to fear the relevant stimuli and is resistant to degradation due to repetitive experience that grows a habit and cannot be intensified through sensitisation (Lissek, & van, 2015). The symptoms of PTSD involve hyperarousal and difficulty in concentrating a couple by irritability. The fear conditioning is, therefore suppressed. For example, the increased irritability, violent episodes of Kyle was a body’s way of trying to making a habit that he learns to live within the environment where the traumatic events occur. On the other hand, the American sniper also suffered the associative learning since different sounds triggered the episodes and the images of the war, shooting and killing he witnessed. PTSD is, therefore, part of learning or adaption to the environment aimed at increasing survivorship.
Treatment of PTSD may include; cognitive therapies, medications and exposure to memories of the trauma. With unclear information about PTSD, one may wonder the best way to treat the condition. However, it all depends on the severity of the problem and also the condition of the individual suffering from it. The cognitive therapies have been known to be effective with little relapse rate. They involve cognitive behaviour observations and therapeutic practices that try to change how an individual perceives their environment, especially the stimulus related to the traumatic experience that brought in PTSD.
Cognitive therapy creates a way of conditioning the body away from experience and focus on their future. Cognitive-behavioural Therapy further involves talking where thoughts, feelings and behaviours are shared to the therapist to help inform on the symptoms, experiences and perception of different experiences. This therapy gives the pattern of developments that tries to bring in the best of behaviour to the people with PTSD. It is aimed at improving the patient’s overdependence on family and friends. Cognitive processing therapy help individuals focus on their trauma and learn how to move on while focusing on their emotional and mental health. Currently use of Psychotherapy such as Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is essential in helping patients process painful memories associated with their bad past experiences. These cognitive therapies are complemented by physical exercise, including yoga and meditation.
Medication is another most used option. However, the medications given are not necessarily for PTSD but rather to alleviate the symptoms such as aggression among others. The main problem with the medication is the high cases of relapse when individuals are out of the dose. Other treatment methods include exposure to the memories of the original traumatising event. It could be using virtual reality or through discussions but is effective compared to the use of medicines. However, with all the various means of treating PTSD, the most effective method is the cognitive behavioural therapy as it helps one change their thinking and perception of a stimulus.
The film of American Sniper has been analysed based on the effects of war on women, children and the civilians in general. However, those who are involved in the war directly; the soldiers are affected in unimaginable ways. The main character, Kyle, shows the experiences of war and what soldiers go through. He acts as a hero, but all the killings and the experiences in Iraq made him suffer PSTD as seen using DSM-5. It was established that the character had undergone a traumatic event as the first step of the diagnosis procedure. He has diagnosed with intrusion an alteration in his cognition numbness, hyperreactivity and mood swings.
His condition was caused by the traumatic events he had undergone, which were further intensified by the third and the fourth trip. However, with the resilience seen in his recovering, it could be said that the victim was exposed to a severely traumatic event. For Post, Traumatic Stress Disorder, different treatments could be used, including cognitive therapies, medication, and rethinking of the experience. However, cognitive behavioural therapies are known to be effective than medication due to reduced relapse.
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