You’re Not Helping: Reviewing Media Covering Trauma

Dear reviewer for whom I now have a bad impression:

Yes, it’s very possible to have a lot of pain and still be responsible, functional people most of the time. Somehow I manage, and so do others. Most of the time. There is nothing super-human about that, unless you consider the human condition to be much especial.

Sometimes, yes, the pain becomes rather much and can overwhelm us. But most of us are not asylum candidates every single moment of our lives post-trauma, or even most of our lives post-trauma—even during some of our worst nadirs.

Sometimes, yes, one incident can cause enough trauma for a lifetime. I’m pretty sure people who had to survive getting buried in rubble after disasters, natural or man-made, can attest to this.

As for the ones of us who are functional—we ain’t lying about the pain we do go through, nor the severity of that pain, nor the cost it does take to maintain a relatively normal life; costs that are either bourn by us or by society or, very often, by both, through events both direct and indirect.

For a little while I wrote a series of articles on Tor.com about PTSD in fiction. It’s useful for writers—but it would certainly be useful for reader and reviewers of works that incorporate trauma.

Part 1
How PTSD is experienced in real life, and an overview of what fiction often gets wrong.

Part 2
An in-depth look at the PTSD portrayals in Babylon 5 (“And the Sky Full of Stars”) and Lord of the Rings.

Part 3
Another in-depth look at PTSD portrayals, this time in World War Z and The West Wing (“Nöel”).

Part 4
A very in-depth look into PTSD and Lord Peter Wimsey.

And so, my dear reviewer, You’re Not Helping.

No love,
AJ

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