Streetlamp Lucozade (orange_fell) wrote in little_details,
Streetlamp Lucozade

[ANON POST] PTSD, Survivor's Guilt, and Torture (potential triggers)

One of the characters in my story is a soldier who was captured and tortured for information, which he eventually gave up. Although he survived, he is haunted not only by the torture (not to mention the war itself), but by the guilt of betraying secrets to the enemy that were used against his own side in battle. That he was in an untenable situation is not something that he is able to rationalize or cut himself slack for. Adding to the difficulty is that this is a medieval fantasy world (roughly equivalent to 1000 AD) without mental health professionals, diagnoses, or treatments, and that he happens to come from a nation that places an extremely high value on honor and masculinity and refusal to surrender and all that sort of messy, potentially harmful cultural stew.

In short, he's a hurting unit.

Out of all the things I want to get right in this story, this is the thing that I'm really hoping to be unflinchingly realistic as well as sensitive about. To that end, I have several questions:

1. What would 20-year-old, untreated post-traumatic stress look like in someone who has mostly learned to cope (as in, function on a day-to-day level)? This is not something that happened yesterday, and I don't want to write it like it is, or to define the guy by what happened to him. People develop coping mechanisms. Not always healthy ones, but often very successful at least in the short term (else no one would keep going back to them!).

2. To anyone who has witnessed/experienced PTSD and feels like sharing: what drives you the most crazy about the way it is commonly portrayed in books or movies? Is there anything that the books and movies really do get right? Is there anything you'd like to see portrayed that usually isn't?

3. What kind of treatment/healing is possible in this kind of setting? What did people do to help themselves and others with this sort of thing, before the advent of modern talk therapy? There must have been something.

4. Does anyone know of particularly good books or other resources that I can look at? I've read A User's Guide to PTSD and I'm working my way through Achilles in Vietnam, which is proving very interesting, but I would love to hear of others (particularly ones that focus on combat- or torture-related PTSD).

Thank you in advance for any help.
Tags: ~psychology & psychiatry: ptsd

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