What is PTSD?

In Home, by Toni Morrison, Frank Money appears to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from the Korean War. Money is among many other people who suffer from PTSD. After class discussion on Wednesday, I decided to research the disorder to help me gain a better insight to what Money is experiencing, and the reasons for his actions.

Before researching what the symptoms, treatments, and causes of PTSD, I believed that it was a mental disorder that only veterans got, however it can affect anyone, any age, at any time in their life. Although the disorder can affect anyone, people who have experienced an intense or lasting traumatic event are more likely to develop it. Events such as sexual assault and war are the most common factors for causing PTSD. The four main symptoms of PTSD are reliving the event, avoiding situations that may cause you to relive the event, negative feelings, and hyperarousal. People with the disease also may experience depression, anxiety, addiction, employment and relationship problems, and physical pain.

Through Money’s actions in the novel, the reader can conclude that he suffers from PTSD when he bolted from the church convention after he saw the little girl smile that was reaching for a cupcake (76). Later in the novel, we learn that when money was in Korea, a young girl used to search for food in the garbage pit by him, until she was shot. The girl at the church convention triggered Money’s past causing him to leave. Money also shows symptoms of addiction, relationship, and employment problems after the war. Frank’s relationship with Lily suffers as his alcohol problems continue, “The multiple times when she came home to find him idle again, just sitting on the sofa staring at the rug, were unnerving…Complaints grew into one-sided arguments” (78). When Frank leaves to visit his sister, Lily is able to be free from the burden of Frank.

PTSD not only affects the person who suffers from the disorder, but also people who engage with that person, such as Frank and Lily. From my personal experiences, I have witnessed the effects of PTSD first hand on a close friend. Not only was he affected by the traumatic experience he witnessed, but his family and myself were as well. Before the incident he was carefree and reckless on multiple occasions, yet after his experience his outlook on life changed along with which roads he drove on and how he drove. Due to New York State law he was not allowed to disclose what he witnessed when he arrived on scene of the fire call, but through other mediums, I was able to gain insight on what he witnessed. A man flattened onto the road like a dead skunk, with body and truck parts scattered on both sides of the street. Following that day he acted paranoid and hardly spoke to anyone. When he did speak it was slow and he was careful to choose the right words. When someone brought up death in a conversation he would disengage himself or leave the room. He traveled down the road the man was killed on once after the incident, and has yet to travel down it again. On multiple occasions when it would be quicker to drive on that road, saving gas and time, he would drive the other direction, avoiding the road and adding an additional ten minutes to our trip. I would complain constantly, not realizing how the incident had affected him and how I was not helping him cope. Although he still exhibits signs of PTSD, he has slowly returned to his normal self and still avoids that road at all costs.

PTSD can happen to anyone and with proper treatments, symptoms can be reduced. PTSD can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, and time. Psychotherapy focuses on the memory of the event or its meaning, and is considered the most effective treatment. Certain medications can also be used to treat the disorder, similar to treating depression. When treated with time, PTSD symptoms can take years or even a lifetime to heal.

More information on PTSD.

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