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American Sniper is Hollywood’s portrayal of U.S. Navy Seal, Chris Kyle’s life in and out of war. Kyle’s mission is to protect his comrades at all costs, and infamously became one of the most lethal snipers in American history. Throughout the film, Kyle struggles to be a good husband and father to his family back home while serving four tours in Iraq. When Chris Kyle finally returns home, he quickly realized that the things seen and done on his many tours could not be forgotten. Chris Kyle undergoes many traumatic events during his four tours on duty, and later diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder after life back home with his wife and daughter was not enough to forget the horrors of the war. PTSD is defined as being the emotional distress that occurs after an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to physical integrity and that leads to avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and feelings of emotional numbness.
The diagnosis given to Chris Kyle in American Sniper is a classic case of PTSD. In the film, Chris could undergo everyday activities until a sound, or a memory would cause his whole world to crumble around him, bringing him back to Iraq — reminding himself of who he is and what he had done. Chris Kyle’s job in Iraq included going door to door, vacating properties, and killing any man, woman, or child that got in the way of Chris’s duty. As a father, Chris was traumatized by these actions as his stay at home became more permanent. Chris became uncomfortable in his own skin, anxious about being away from the battlefield, lost in thought reliving awful war memories, and unable to focus for long periods of time. In the film, Chris is also adamantly opposed to his wife’s efforts to discuss his experiences and, in general, seems unable to relax into his old life. At home, Chris is irritable and guarded; as well as visibly disturbed when a lawnmower sounds, and disoriented when a baby cries.
Beidel, Bulik, and Stanley say Posttraumatic stress disorder begin with dangerous or traumatic events such as military combat, assault, rape, or observations of these things. Later when confronting events or situations that resemble the trauma, such as a baby crying in Chris’s case, the person may suffer an intense physiological reaction. The emergence of post-trauma stress consists of a wide range of symptoms. The trauma is now a memory, a replayed, uncontrolled memory. The trauma inconsiderately intrudes everyday consciousness and functions. Nightmares and flashbacks make sleep nearly impossible, because reminders of the trauma become more vivid while asleep. Then there’s the avoidance symptoms — efforts put forth to avoid talking about the trauma, avoid feelings related to the trauma or just numbness. Withdrawal within society or one’s home is a common symptom of PTSD. Chris often times would daydream or dose off as if he weren’t there. His wife often made comments like, “Chris, you’re here but you aren’t here”.
Chris Kyle began to see a psychiatrist that had good insight on PTSD, and aided Chris in re-connecting with the desire of his true self to regain a connection with his country and fellow soldiers. Chris was a peer supporter and did everything he could to help other soldiers who were wounded in some kind of way, mentally and physically. Chris enjoyed taking some out to a shooting range to gain some normalcy. Hollywood did an outstanding job depicting a person with PTSD. In the film, Chris Kyle was seen by a professional that diagnosed Kyle correctly according to readings, lectures, and notes. The exposure of American Sniper and the amount of lives this movie has touched since its release is uncanny. American Sniper has helped many soldiers realize that they aren’t alone on the battlefield once they get home either.
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