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6 Correct Depictions Of PTSD, In accordance To Therapists

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Final Up to date on December 20, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC

Submit-Traumatic Stress Dysfunction (PTSD) is an interesting however disturbing psychological sickness often featured in fictional films like 2009’s The Harm Locker and nonfiction documentaries like HBO’s We Are Not Finished But. It’s additionally a frequent topic explored in TV collection. Generally the dysfunction is recognized by identify; generally it’s not.

If you’re studying this text, it’s in all probability since you are curious to study extra about PTSD and the way it presents in these affected by it. Maybe you believe you studied a cherished one suffers from the dysfunction. Maybe you present among the indicators and signs. 

That will help you in your journey, I interviewed psychological well being professionals to see what they thought had been correct depictions of PTSD in films and TV. Every clinician has labored extensively with trauma survivors, so they’re in a wonderful place to touch upon the matter.

I needed to compile an inventory of correct depictions of PTSD for you, as a result of it isn’t unusual for people who find themselves interested by PTSD to show to widespread media to higher perceive their numerous shows. For the file, it’s higher to debate your issues with a educated psychological well being skilled, however if you’re interested by high quality depictions in fiction, hopefully you’ll get some use from this record. 

Earlier than we get into the movie and TV suggestions, let me briefly clarify what PTSD is.

6 Correct Depictions of PTSD in Films and TV, In accordance To Therapists

What Is Submit-Traumatic Stress Dysfunction?

Submit-Traumatic Stress Dysfunction (PTSD) is a psychological sickness that develops as a response to a life-threatening state of affairs or occasion. It’s generally related to fight veterans, however thousands and thousands of odd People battle with it, too. Automobile accidents, violence, and sexual assault are only a few explanation why individuals could battle with PTSD.

As psychological problems go, PTSD is disturbingly frequent. In reality, The Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being estimated that greater than 7.5 million adults in America are identified with PTSD yearly. For the reason that pandemic’s starting in early 2020, that quantity has nearly actually risen, particularly in sufferers who contracted the illness. This research signifies 20% of sufferers handled for Coronavirus confirmed indicators of post-traumatic stress.

What Are The Signs of PTSD?

PTSD, like every psychological sickness, should be precisely identified by and handled with the assistance of a licensed psychological well being skilled. It’s a reasonably difficult analysis, however these are some signs generally related to it:

  • Recurrent, intrusive distressing reminiscences of the traumatic occasion
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares concerning the traumatic occasion
  • Extreme emotional misery or bodily reactions to one thing that reminds you of the traumatic occasion
  • Avoiding pondering or speaking concerning the traumatic occasion
  • Avoiding locations, actions or those that remind you of the traumatic occasion
  • Adverse ideas about your self, different individuals or the world
  • Hopelessness
  • Reminiscence issues
  • Problem sustaining relationships
  • Feeling indifferent from household and associates
  • Lack of curiosity in actions 
  • Problem experiencing optimistic feelings
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Being simply startled or frightened
  • At all times being on guard for hazard
  • Self-destructive habits, similar to consuming an excessive amount of
  • Bother sleeping
  • Bother concentrating
  • Irritability, offended outbursts or aggressive habits
  • Guilt or disgrace

Tragically, those that undergo from PTSD typically cope with a bunch of different critical points, from substance abuse to relationship difficulties to co-morbid psychological sickness similar to main depressive dysfunction.

It’s a critical topic. Personally, I’m not wild about utilizing fictional characters as instructing instruments, however the therapists I interviewed swear by these movies, so right here goes:  

6 Correct Depictions of PTSD, In accordance To Therapists

1. The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) 

Beneficial by Yena Hu, a Licensed Trauma Restoration Coach specializing in Complicated PTSD and childhood trauma. 


The Queen’s Gambit is a coming-of-age story about an orphaned youngster named Beth Harmon who experiences a devastating lack of her mother and father, then later turns into a chess prodigy and world champion whereas scuffling with drug and alcohol habit. 

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Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD

The Queen’s Gambit precisely depicts PTSD and its connection to childhood trauma and habit. Within the present, we repeatedly see Beth experiencing flashbacks of her mother and father arguing and the automotive crash that led to her mom’s dying. 

Even along with her worldwide success as a chess prodigy, we witness Beth scuffling with drug and alcohol abuse from an early age, as trauma survivors typically use substances to control their dysregulated nervous system. 

Scientific Insights and Observations

Intrusive reminiscences (typically within the type of flashbacks) and avoidance – by substance use to numb and escape emotional ache – are frequent signs of PTSD. 

2. Gray’s Anatomy (Meredith Grey)

Beneficial by Savannah Davis, LCSW, a therapist in Portland, ME who makes a speciality of treating trauma and nervousness.


Gray’s Anatomy is a medical TV drama by which the present’s medical doctors are usually put by the wringer with traumatic expertise after traumatic expertise. 

Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD

Within the earlier seasons of the collection, Meredith Gray showcases how advanced trauma can affect individuals over the long-term. We study Meredith’s developmental trauma, together with inconsistent caregiving, attachment points, and the best way parental psychological well being points affected her. 

The affect of the trauma is mirrored in Meredith’s unstable sense of self and low self-worth, her difficulties sustaining long-term relationships, her avoidant attachment type, and her distrust of others.

Scientific Insights and Observations

Whereas it’s not the identical as one remoted traumatic occasion that ends in flashbacks and nightmares, it’s a traditional illustration of advanced trauma. 

3. Unbelievable (Netflix)

Beneficial by Dr. Jenna DiLossi, a Licensed Psychologist who specializes within the remedy of PTSD.


Netflix’s Unbelievable is a mini collection primarily based on a real story of a serial rapist and the investigation to seize the perpetrator

Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD

Unbelievable has one of the crucial highly effective representations of PTSD because of sexual assault ever depicted on display screen. Whereas the present just isn’t particularly about PTSD, the portrayal of the victims precisely and powerfully depicts the various methods PTSD from sexual assault can manifest. The present depicts elements of PTSD typically neglected, i.e. reckless behaviors, substance use, social isolation, promiscuity and threat taking behaviors. These are all frequent manifestations of PTSD from sexual abuse, however are sometimes misunderstood or not identified.

Scientific Insights and Observations

For PTSD from sexual assault, individuals don’t understand the breadth of behaviors that may be from response to trauma, and generally, these responses are even used to discredit victims in traumatic methods. Unbelievable highlights the methods PTSD exhibits up and acts as a numbing agent in a means that I’ve but to see in different media in widespread tradition.

4. The Starvation Video games (Katniss Everdeen)

Beneficial by Cheri Timko, LPC, a Relationship Coach and Licensed Skilled Counselor.


The Starvation Video games is a collection of books and flicks that depict a fictional post-apocalyptic world.  In retaliation for his or her revolt throughout a civil struggle, the winners require the populace to produce teenage girls and boys as tributes to battle to the dying yearly in a televised competitors.  Whoever wins the Starvation Video games is showered with winnings and is ready to briefly enhance the lives of their neighborhood.

Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD

All of the characters within the story have lived by extended and intense trauma each earlier than the story begins and all through the narrative.  Viewers get all kinds of the methods PTSD can have an effect on people in a different way.  

The principle character’s, Katniss, PTSD signs originate in her childhood, with the violent dying of her father and the deprivation of close to hunger.  She then experiences the repeated traumas related to the Starvation Video games and the Civil Warfare that ensues.  

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Scientific Insights and Observations

Katniss turns into extra traumatized all through the collection, and her signs escalate with the continued trauma she lives by.  She clearly demonstrates signs of nightmares, hypervigilance, agitation, avoidance of conditions and other people, nervousness, despair, hostility, self-destructive behaviors, emotional detachment.

The ways taught to the primary characters within the remaining two installments of the collection are grounding strategies which are efficient in managing among the signs.

5. Poldark (BBC One)

Beneficial by Dr. Allison Gilson, Ph.D., a medical psychologist who specializes within the remedy of trauma and dissociation.


Ross Poldark is a Redcoat soldier who returns after three years away preventing within the American Warfare of Independence to seek out that the world has moved on with out him. The collection follows Poldark over time as he will get married, raises his youngsters, and goes to struggle.

Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD 

Poldark’s finest pal, Dr. Dwight Enys, was held prisoner of struggle by the French. Following his rescue, he begins to indicate signs of PTSD, experiencing flashbacks, jumpiness, and survivor’s guilt. The present additionally portrays how he improves after he talks to his associates and his spouse about his experiences and struggles.

Scientific Insights and Observations

Whereas PTSD or trauma was not acknowledged within the 1700s, its signs have been mentioned way back to historic Greece, as described by Socrates and Aristotle. This present goes past probably the most generally mentioned signs to indicate the affect on an individual’s relationships, self-identity, and hope for the longer term. It additionally demonstrates how essential assist and understanding from associates and household might be when recovering from traumatic life experiences.

6. Iron Man 3 (Tony Stark)

Beneficial by Randy Withers, LCMHC, a licensed therapist in North Carolina, and the Managing Editor of Blunt Remedy, a weblog about psychological well being.


Tormented by nervousness, panic assaults, and insomnia after saving the world, billionaire hero Tony Stark should don his Iron Man swimsuit but once more to sq. off towards an enigmatic terrorist often known as The Mandarin.

Why It Is An Correct Depiction of PTSD

Tony Stark exhibits most of the traditional signs of PTSD. These embody nervousness, depressed temper, hypervigilance, flashbacks, and avoidance. Extra importantly, Iron Man 3 exhibits how nobody, not even a genius billionaire playboy, is immune from the results of trauma.

Scientific Insights and Observations

Tragically, there are emotional, bodily, and relationship penalties to trauma. Iron Man 3 reminds us all that even a complicated swimsuit of armor can’t shield us from the horrors of violence, loss, and remorse. 

Iron Man 3- Posttraumatic Stress Dysfunction (PTSD). Courtesy, YouTube.

Different Correct Depictions of PTSD in Movie

This isn’t an exhaustive record. However in the event you had been interested by which movies and TV exhibits therapists assume do a superb job depicting PTSD, these productions are a terrific place to start out.

Listed here are a couple of extra I’d wish to advocate:

  • First Blood (1982)
  • American Sniper (2014)
  • The Deer Hunter (1978)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
  • Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
  • The Fisher King (1991)
  • Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
  • Saving Personal Ryan (1998)
  • Mystic River (2003)

What different films and TV collection function correct depictions of PTSD? Please depart your ideas as a remark under.

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