Ptsd and Hemingway's a Way You'll Never Be the Mark of Confidence by Melinda Fine

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Melinda Fine
Ptsd Press
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Ptsd and Hemingway's a Way You'll Never Be the Mark of Confidence

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Book review

Hemingway’s short story, “A Way You’ll Never Be,” was published in 1933, forty seven years before post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first defined and acknowledged as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Society in its 1980 release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). And yet, as Charles Coleman so astutely conveys in this in-depth analysis: “Ernest Hemingway described the symptoms of PTSD—and the inner workings of soldiers’ minds so afflicted—decades before post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was recognized as a clinical condition. So striking are his depictions of 'stressors' and their effects upon his protagonist that discernible 'patterns of affliction' can be identified and actually tracked through the mental meanderings of Nicholas Adams in portraying situations, symptoms and manifestations of 'the disorder' that mirror today’s quest to better understand both PTSD and traumatic brain injury or TBI.” Charles Coleman is the author of "Sergeant Back Again," the cult-classic Vietnam War novel that "made PTSD real!" Originally published by Harper & Row in 1980, it is now available in a new publication from PTSD PRESS: "Sergeant Back Again: The Anthology of Clinical and Critical Commentary." SERGEANT BACK AGAIN—THE ANTHOLOGY of Critical and Clinical Commentary, Volume One. ( contains the first collection of published critical and clinical writings regarding the earliest characterizations and manifestations of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on and off the battlefield using a Vietnam novel as the catalyst for investigation, discussion, and analysis. Focusing on the central characters and actions dramatized in Charles Coleman's universally-acclaimed portrayal of PTSD embodied in his Vietnam War-era cult classic, Sergeant Back Again (re-released in 2010), six highly-respected scholars, historians, and psychiatrists "weigh in" on the social, political, and medical aspects and consequences of the emergence of post-traumatic stress disorder during the Vietnam War Era and later manifested in troops returning from Iraq and now Afghanistan. It also sheds light on the reasons behind the escalation of veteran suicides, divorces, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and homelessness. This is clearly a first in deconstructing the causes and effects of PTSD on U.S. Servicemen and women (with the formal diagnosis of PTSD having been first published by the psychiatric leadership in this country in 1980), based on the case of Specialist Andrew Collins, a line medic and later a surgical specialist who served in Vietnam. It puts Sergeant Back Again into perspective as "The Vietnam War novel that made PTSD Real!" (Philip Beidler, Ph.D.) Skillfully analyzing scenes on the battlefield, the surgical unit and into the closed wards of Chambers Psychiatric Pavilion at Fort Sam Houston and the psychological milieu of both the patients and staff during 1970, psychiatrist Harold Kudler, M.D. explores the military medical establishment's dilemma in trying to understand veterans returning from Vietnam and the attempts to classify and "treat" them in both the "old" conventional language of psychiatry and the bio-medical vocabulary in which "psychiatrists could no longer see the person under their care. Now, thirty years after arriving at a definition of PTSD based on the surface of behavior, Psychiatry is still struggling to see beyond abstractions in order to find the patients it left behind and the real heart of darkness that defines psychological trauma." PTSD and Hemingway's "A Way You'll Never Be" The Mark of Confidence is the perfect companion piece to Coleman's "Sergeant Back Again: The Anthology of Clinical and Critical Commentary.

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