Humanities Thesis

Traumatic events come in many forms, but whether in the form of the holocaust or the wars overseas, these events always leave a wake of people affected by them in different ways and to different extents. However, everyone deals with this animalistic reaction to trauma in various forms.  People who survive traumatic events are people who can overcome personal discomfort.  Survivors are people who steel themselves against the horrors they face, but sometimes those horrors cling to these survivors like a wet article of clothing.  The survivors who end up living better lives are the ones who can look into themselves and except their fate, or can simply shut the suffering in a little box inside of them, in order to get over the emotional pain.

Holocaust survivors had to deal with the posttraumatic stress disorder brought on by their horrible experiences, and the PTSD is sometimes as bad as the actual experience itself.  Holocaust survivors also had to adjust to how they were treated.  These survivors went from being treated like rats to being treated like human beings, which is not an easy transition for anyone.  Modern day warriors also have this problem.  Many surviving members of our military come home to experience PTSD and survivor’s guilt, which is to think that they somehow could have saved their fallen comrades.  Warfare and struggle change a person, and the new person is usually a shocked shell of their former self, ready to be shattered by the casual cruelty of the obscene world.

The people who usually deal with extreme levels of stress are the ones with a strong support system.  The people with strong cohesive family units, or a group of friends or coworkers that support you are the ones who have the support necessary to get over these sensations of despair.  In modern day warfare the warriors that lead normal lives after their wartime horrors are over are the ones who have something to distract them, like a team of some sort, or the people who are able to shove all of those feelings into a box and push it away from their conscious, so they do not think about it on a daily basis.
         In Maus, by Art Speigleman, the characters are all portrayed as different animals.  The Jews are mice, Polish people are pigs, and the Nazis are cats.  This further shows how, at that time, Nazis literally preyed on Jews, like a cat preys on mice.  The Nazis purposely lowered a class of people below them, therefore justifying genocide to their larger public, as being nothing more than taking care of a rat infestation.  This social degeneration being used against a society is despicable in every way.  The Nazis took all of the Jews’ rights away and left them, as a race, depleted and thoroughly flabbergasted by the treatment they endured.
         After the Jews were so completely mentally demolished, the survivors had to survive after that with all of that terrible information in their head.  The mental images of hanging Jews, burning Jews, starving Jews, always haunted them.  The Jews were treated as rats, except rats got more food and nourishment.  Everything that people took for granted was a shock to them.  Showering in hot water, eating until our stomachs are about to burst, exercising by choice, all of these things were foreign to the shell shocked Jews after the holocaust.
         In Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, Marji left Iran fleeing from the war.  She grew up in a country that didn’t care about the war, and who had never known true hardship.  They had never been bombed and forced to bunker down in a basement with their entire family.  They didn’t have to wear a veil so that they wouldn’t be shot.  They didn’t have war at their doorsteps.  This meant that Marji was a great deal more mature than her peers.  She needed to grow up fast, or she would be lost in the chaos of a country going through civil unrest.  
         Since Marji was forced to grow up so fast, it made finding new friends difficult because she already had an idea of what was truly important, and what she shouldn’t worry about at all.  She tried to find people who understood her predicament, but no one could to relate to her.  She eventually had to compromise and make friends with people who didn’t really understand her, but they couldn’t really hold a decent conversation with her.  This lack of companionship is a big problem for most people after a traumatic event.  When something takes up your entire life, you live it, breath it, and then you have to flee from it, it leaves a hole that needs to be filled with something, whether it is a sport, or a good friend, but that takes time to accomplish.  

         When people go through traumatic events, their very souls are scorched with the fire of oppression.  These people need time and effort to heal that burn, and while some people have the willpower to completely shut themselves away from the pain, most people need to talk about their experiences in order to recover.  There is no “better” way to deal with stress; the whole goal is to just alleviate the pressure being put on you.



Satarapi, Marjane. Persepolis.

Spiegleman, Art.  Maus.

Luttrell, Marcus.  Service: A Navy SEAL at War.

Kyle, Chris.  American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US History.