Monday, November 21, 2022

How To Write A Character With Ptsd

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Peeta Mellark In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

WRITING CHARACTERS WITH PTSD!?!?!?!

Katniss isnt the only one who experiences PTSD symptoms in The Hunger Games. In the third and fourth installments of the movie franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts one and two, her romantic interest Peeta Mellark is psychologically tortured by the Capitol using a method called hijacking.

Hijacking is a fear conditioning and memory alteration torture tactic using the venom of genetically engineered wasps called tracker jackers.;When Peeta is captured by the Capitol, they begin to show him footage of him and Katniss at the first Hunger Games and inject him with tracker jacker venom. The venom makes Peeta associate Katniss with fear, driving him to want to kill her the girl he has spent his life loving. Not only is this the Capitols attempt to torture Peeta, but its also an attempt to psychologically torture Katniss, who is the symbol of the rebellion.

According to the DSM-5, some folks with PTSD may feel like the world around them is unreal, dreamlike, distant or distorted. This is called derealization, and its something Peeta experiences. Even after the hijacking torture has stopped, Peeta is left unsure of what is real and what is not. While Peeta is recovering, he plays a game called, real or not real? to help him understand what memories are real and which ones have been altered by the hijacking.

Getting It Right: Writing About Post

So your character has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder… but what does that actually mean for them? How might their symptoms manifest and affect their lives? Lets take a closer look at Criteria A to C.

No one wants to read about a character with an easy life. Victories without a struggle arent meaningful. They arent inspiring. They dont leave you thinking about them for days, weeks or months afterwards, your fingers still tingling from the magic on the page.

The solution? Put your characters through the wringer. And sometimes that wringer involves subjecting them to traumatising experiences. In cases such as these, your character could go on to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder .

What does it take to be diagnosed with PTSD? All was revealed in the previous Psychology & Storycraft post, How to Tell If Your Character Has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Knowing the list of symptoms found in PTSD isnt enough on its own, however. I did my best to make the diagnostic criteria as understandable and applicable to writing as possible, but theres something impersonal about reading off a list of symptomsand writing is all about creating that personal connection.

What exactly do the criteria mean? How can they affect your characters life? How do you write about PTSD in a way thats not neutral and analytic but emotive? Thats the subject of the next two posts.

To Keep in Mind:
Everyone is different.

Absorbed it fully? Great. Now what does it mean?

Criterion A: Stressor

How Do You Describe Someone With Ptsd

19 People Describe What Its Like to Have PTSD

  • Heres what they shared with us:
  • Its like youre tidying your house before a dinner party.
  • Its like a side show fun house; you never know whats around the corner to screw up your day.
  • My nightmares when Im asleep bleed into my daily life.
  • Its difficult to explain.
  • Youre constantly on guard.

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How To Write Your Statement

Write very clearly, or type on a computer if you can. Describe the traumatic events in the order that they happened. Tell where the event happened, what unit you were in at the time, and when it happened . Provide as much detail as you can and also describe the feelings you had about what happened.

Don’t diminish the stressful experience you had and don’t make it seem even more severe than it was. Just tell exactly what occurred and that will be very effective.

How The Focus And Joy Of Writing A Novel Helped Me Overcome My Ptsd

Pin on Writing stuff

Breathing life into my characters made me want to live fully again, and finishing the final draft gave me a profound sense of fulfilment

I was writing things about made-up people long before I was writing anything else. What drew me to fiction is still what motivates me now: a desire to understand people, their psychology, their motivations and their relationships. For me, writing has never been about catharsis. I dont feel better about painful experiences having written them out of my system. It isnt an emotional purging. It can feel pretty terrible sometimes, swimming in your own sadness, and it never feels better afterwards. The suggestion that an authors characters are merely ciphers for their own mental state is most frequently levelled at female writers, so I feel compelled to say that none of the characters in my debut novel, The Tyranny of Lost Things, are me. And, of course, they all are, in some way, me.

I was very ill when I started writing it. I had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2010, and again in late 2015. It made life very difficult and there were times when I didnt want to go on. I essentially became a recluse who rarely left the house . I was swinging perpetually between terror and sadness, in a state of either fight-or-flight, or intense grief at the loss of a functional existence.

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Requesting Statements From Family Members Or Friends

Your friends and family members have a special ability to describe how your life has changed as a result of traumatic events you experience while in the service. They can write about the person you were when you entered the service and the changed person you were when you returned home.

Ask friends and family to describe in their statement what your personality was like before service and what is like now. Maybe you were outgoing and popular before, and now you are a recluse who does not like leaving the house. Or perhaps you were quiet and laid-back, and now you’re extremely angry a lot. Maybe you used to feel very close to your spouse and now you are withdrawn from her , or even abusive. Or perhaps you no longer feel that you are available for your children.

All of these people can help by writing a statement giving examples of how your behavior has changed. Your child could say you used to help with homework and now you sit in front of the TV drinking. Your friends could describe how you don’t feel safe leaving the house, and everywhere you go you are always looking over your shoulder, on high alert. Your spouse could describe how you wake up terrified in the middle of the night from nightmares.

You can also ask for statements from co-workers, employers, clergy, or anyone else who has seen changes in you. Even someone who has only known you since you left the service can still help by describing how you appear to be affected by your post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Do You Write An Insane Character

9 Tips for Writing an Insane Character

  • He is a man-vs-self conflict. This character is his own antagonist.
  • He deeply affects other characters.
  • His arc is driven by obsession.
  • He probably knows somethings not quite right.
  • He shows symptoms of a real mental disorder.
  • He has behavioural quirks.
  • He was set off by something.
  • Also Check: How Ptsd Affects Military Families

    Dos And Donts Of Including Mental Illness In Your Fiction

    In addition to the joy of being an author, I have also had the privilege of being a clinical psychologist for the last fifteen years. In fact, I practice in mental health full-time as a Pediatric and Perinatal Psychologist and I write in my spare time.

    My Psychologist job has greatly influenced my writing as all my published books focus on writing about characters with a form of mental illness and on their recovery from mental illness.;

    In the last few years, I have been thrilled to see that many authors are writing books with characters who struggle with mental illness. All mental health professionals are strongly dedicated to promotion of normalization of mental illness and understanding of it, as well as decreasing the stigma associated with being mentally ill.;

    I would encourage any author to consider including mental illness in their books as a challenge for their character, the same way we often include divorce, job loss, death, and medical illness as a challenge for the characters. Having said that, there are a few important points to consider when writing about mental illness.

    How Does Mental Illness Fit Into Your Story

    Creating Unreliable Narrators by Giving Them Mental Illness

    Giving Your Characters a Wrong Mental Illness;

    Choosing Treatment for Your Characters;

    Research Mental Health Laws

    Common length of stay is only 5-7 days. In the U.S., mental health hospitals are not allowed to keep patients for a long time.

    A Few Donts:

    Magnolia Steele Denise Grover Swank

    Writing Characters With: Mental Health/Trauma

    Ten years earlier, Magnolia witnessed something terrible. Its so terrible that she runs away for ten years. When she returns to her hometown, pieces begin to return to her. Because nobody believed anything bad had happened to her that nightand thought shed done something bad insteadshes very untrusting. She doesnt like people getting close to her or finding out her secrets. Over the course of the series she learns to open up, but sometimes her paranoia is justified

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    Writing Internal Dialogue During A Flashback

    The internal dialogue is what most people tend to struggle with. Remember, in deep pov, internal dialogue must be written as though the character is alone in their own heads. They wont explain to themselves what the traumatic event was, when it happened, who hurt them. Youll have to strategically build in the necessary backstory for readers, one drip at a time, over the course of the story.

    Do you have any questions about flashbacks in deep pov? Is this a device that youre using? Where are you struggling?

    Been told you should learn Deep Point Of View? Had an editor or critique partner tell you to go deeper with the emotions in your fiction? Looking for a community of writers seeking to create emotional connections with readers? Check out the Free Resource Hub and then join the Going Deeper With Emotions In Fiction Facebook group.

    Describe How You Have Changed

    Next, describe what your life was like before you began military service, what your relationship with friends and families was like, how you did in school, whether you played sports or had a job. Then describe what happened after you returned home from the service. Give examples of problems you had with work, school, or relationships. Describe your difficulty adjusting to civilian life. If you were no longer interested in activities you once enjoyed, talk about that.

    Give specific examples of your PTSD symptoms. For example “I had a panic attack when I heard a car backfire, I thought it was gunfire” or “I heard someone scream on TV and I ran for cover.” This will be much more effective than providing clinical descriptions of symptoms that you may have learned while undergoing mental health treatment.

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    Remember That Memories And The Reactions To Them Are Very Individual

    When writing trauma memories, keep in mind how much time has gone by. Those WW1 soldiers recounting events from forty years previoustheir memories consisted of what they remembered but they were also made up of what the news reported, what they saw on TV, and what others said. Some consciously or unconsciously altered their memories to avoid a variety of internal consequences . Think about what other sources might be available to your character to fill in the gaps in the characters memory, or what reasons they may have to hide or diminish their outward reactions to those memories. What would be the consequences of that emotional suppression?;;

    No two trauma survivors are the same. Take the time to;research trauma and mental health. Try to find someone you can interview. My experience of PTSD is unique to me. There are commonalities that are used as diagnostic tools, so those are good to be aware of, but the intensity, relational/physical/social consequences, coping mechanismsall of this is very individual.;Use the lengths the character goes to in order to avoid the memory or its resulting feelings to SHOW the depth and intensity of the pain and tension.

    In summary, no one wants to be defined by whats happened to them, but if youve given your character some kind of traumatic memory, be sure those memories significantly influence their decisions, actions, thoughts and feelingsotherwise, why bother?

    Tips On Writing A Trauma Backstory

    My Favorite Resources for Character Development

    by;Lisa Hall-Wilson

    Life is hard and as writers, we arent doing our jobs unless our characters struggle. Am I right? Good fiction isnt borne out in the comfortable and easy living we might dream about, but in the tension and conflict between characters and/or their own desires.

    Giving a character a backstory that includes trauma is a great device to create inner tension, and often leads to conflict.

    When writing in;Deep POV , the intent is to be as authentic and real as possible. Its a personal observation that trauma backstory either irreparably cripples a character or doesnt seem to affect them at all .;And sure, there are outliers who struggle with severe PTSD and some who seem able to brush anything off, but for the majority of us the reality of a past with trauma is somewhere in the middle.

    The power of Deep POV is the ability to layer emotion and create realistic reactions.

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    Movie Characters That Show These 6 Classic Ptsd Symptoms

    I sometimes joke to my friends that in order to be a Disney hero, a character must be;an orphan or at the very least have lost one parent.

    Why is that?

    I think its because we like stories about human resiliency. We are drawn to stories of heroes who overcome trauma because it gives us hope that we can overcome the trials in our own lives.

    For example, seeing Harry Potter rise, again and again, each time Lord Voldemort tries to kill him can give us the stamina to continue on when things get hard. Watching Katniss Everdeen take down the Capitol while barely holding herself together shows us that you can be fierce and vulnerable at the same time.

    Though these characters arent given official PTSD diagnosis in the movies, we can still learn a lot about how trauma and PTSD symptoms manifest by their actions. With the help of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders;,;Ive listed eight movie characters who exhibit six classic symptoms of PTSD. Did we miss any characters you can think of? Let us know in the comments.

    A Blindsided Character Could Be An All

    Being blindsided by a trigger at any point. A situation thats been fine a thousand other times can trigger you that one day because someone new is there, because you cant get your usual seat by the door, because someones wearing the cologne that your attacker wore. This is a great device to save for a pivotal conflict.

    Its like a two-by-four to the head. Show their emotional wounds bleedingall over the floor and have them keep going anyway. Show them growing stronger,trusting people again against their instincts, forgiving themselves becausethey couldnt get a hold of themselves again, etc. Let the whole process bemessy, two steps forward and one step back. The stories that end in a prettybow and leaves everyone cured simply arent authentic.

    Have a question youd like to ask about writing PTSD in fiction with realism? Whats the most compelling portrayal of PTSD in fiction youve seen so far?

    Been told you should learn Deep Point Of View? Had an editor or critique partner tell you to go deeper with the emotions in your fiction? Looking for a community of writers seeking to create emotional connections with readers? Check out the Free Resource Hub and then join the Going Deeper With Emotions In Fiction Facebook group.

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    How To Write A Ptsd Flashback In Deep Pov

    December 4, 2019 by Lisa Hall-Wilson

    Flashbacks are super popular among writers, but less popular among editors and agents. Partly because some writers call info dumps and backstory a flashback. If youre interested in diving deep into writing flashbacks caused by trauma and PTSD, read on because I have some good tips for you!

    Dont Cheat Readers On The Consequences Of Flashbacks

    How To Accurately Write A Character With A Mental Illness Or Disorder

    Flashbacks, particularly if they sneak up on you, are exhausting. Like, bone weary, sleep for a week and still be tired, exhausted. There will be heightened vigilance following a flashback, because the character will want to make sure that doesnt happen again. There may be actual consequences because of their behavior. You cant randomly run out of a board meeting without explanation and there not be social or professional consequences. Most people dont want others to know theyre struggling, so do some research into the coping mechanisms used.

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    Documenting Your Ptsd Properly Is Key To Winning A Claim For Veterans Disability Compensation

    When you submit an application for disability compensation and one of the disabilities you claim is post-traumatic stress disorder , you will typically receive a letter from the VA acknowledging receipt of your application and asking you to write a “stressor statement.” A stressor statement is a description of the stressful experiences you had in the military that led to your developing PTSD. You will be supplied with a Statement in Support of Claim form where you can write down your stressor statement.

    If you are a veteran who received a Combat Action Ribbon, a Purple Heart, or a Combat Infantryman Badge, the VA may not require that you write a stressor statement and therefore will not ask you to submit one.

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