Conquering Trauma in Vonnegut's ''Slaughterhouse-Five''

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Conquering trauma Coping strategies and repressed memories in Slaughterhouse five Although widely considered an anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse five seems to be a rather war-acceptance kind of novel – not so much attempting to disclaim it, but rather claiming that war just existed, and nothing could be undone. Writing a book about the traumatic experiences he went through in the Dresden bombing has been more of a therapeutic practice for Vonnegut, than a plea against war. He begins with a personal confession about how tempting, and yet impossible turned out to be to write about the destruction of Dresden, part which appears to have been added after he completed writing the novel. Vonnegut insists on the lack of memories related to his experience in the war. Moreover, his former companions during the bombing of Dresden seemed to experience the same amnesia phenomena, not being able to recount any of the events. Their inability to talk about a topic that has deeply affected their psychology has been accounted for years later, in the 80s, after the Vietnam War, when extensive research with war veterans enabled psychiatrists to provide both a name and operational criteria to assess the effects of traumatic experiences. It was then that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been recognized as an independent psychiatric classification. Analyzing the symptomatology, we can see that both Billy Pilgrim as well as the author make typical cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. To begin with, PTSD sufferers are more often than not unable to recall important aspects of the trauma, as the Vonnegut himself claims in the beginning of the novel. The narrator’s story parallels Vonnegut’s on a certain level, at which point the narration becomes a mixture of autobiography and fiction. Nevertheless, he continues with the story of Billy Pilgrim, which offers unquestionable evidence
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