American Sniper Movie Review: Depiction Of PTSD

Categories: American Sniper

American Sniper is a biographical war film chronicling the life of the US. Navy Seal Chris Kyle. The film follows Chris on his journey through Basic Under Water Demolition / Seal, Sniper School, and finally his deployments overseas to Iraq. The film begins with Chris attending BUDS in order to become a Navy Seal. After completion of BUDS and Sniper School, he is sent on multiple deployments to Iraq. On his deployments, he is exposed to factors that contribute to his disability which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The factors that contribute to his PTSD are the death of his fellow teammates and exposure to stress for prolonged periods.

However, his symptoms do not manifest until he is back home. The first time signs of his PTSD manifests is during the birth of his daughter. And again, when a neighbor's dog threatens his daughter. While his symptoms are present, he is hesitant in admitting that he has PTSD. It is not until he visits a psychiatrist at the VA hospital that he comes to terms with his condition.

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The treatment he utilizes to treat his PTSD is by attending group counseling and participating in outdoor activities.

While the movie does portray some of the symptoms of PTSD, it does not display all the possible signs a person with PTSD can display. PTSD can cause a person to develop anxiety, depression, and intermittent explosive disorder. The symptoms of PTSD can have an adverse effect on the individual. Anxiety can cause the person to be wary and cautious of other people.

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Depression not only causes mental disorders but can cause physical symptoms to manifest, such as a weakened immune system. In addition to anxiety and depression, PTSD can cause a person to develop an intermittent explosive disorder or (IED). A person who has IED can have an uncontrollable burst of anger. While IED can be similar to anger problems, IED can sometimes manifest without a reason or provocation.

A person with PTSD can face many challenges, such as feelings of isolation, suicidal ideation, and insomnia. A person can feel isolated because they feel that others would not be able to understand them. In addition to a feeling of isolation, a person with PTSD can also have insomnia, which can lead to poor quality of sleep. Furthermore, they can also rely on self-medication such as drugs or alcohol, which can make their symptoms worse or develop new ones. While the film does portray a couple of methods in treating and mitigating the symptoms of PTSD, the services that are shown are group counseling and participating in outdoor activities as a group. While these methods can be effective, PTSD affects individuals in different ways and can also manifest at different stages. For some, PTSD can manifest early after a traumatic event, and for others, it can take months or even years to show up. Therefore, some methods that are effective for others can be ineffective for others. Methods such as group counseling can be effective with people who are willing to share their trauma with others. However, people who have feelings of isolation can be reluctant to open up to others. Therefore, individual counseling can be more effective due to a private setting.

In addition to counseling, exposure therapy can also be utilized in treating PTSD symptoms. Exposure therapy is conducted by having the patient visit the scene where their traumatic event took place or have them visualize the incident in fragments until they are comfortable in visualizing the entire event without being hindered by their symptoms. In addition to counseling, working out can help alleviate symptoms due to the release of endorphins. Exercises such as yoga can help with breathing control, which can help regulate the patient's heart rate. While it takes the effort and willingness of the patient to seek treatment, it is also important for their family and friends to give support. Additionally, counselors must understand that progress can be slow and, in some cases, can be set back. Family and friends should be patient and empathetic, and while suggesting therapeutic services, they should not enforce it or use it as an ultimatum unless the patient is direct harm to themselves or others. Counselors should understand that even if the patient makes progress in their treatment, they can also be set back due to various reasons.

Therefore, counselors should be patient and empathetic and build rapport and gain the trust of their patients. Because PTSD is complex, its effects people are different. Therefore, different techniques are utilized in treating it. As mentioned, group and individual counseling, along with exposure therapy, can be beneficial in treating PTSD. Additionally, exercises such as yoga can help alleviate physical symptoms. Utilizing these methods can provide a holistic method of healing for the individual, allowing them to have a better quality of life.


Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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American Sniper Movie Review: Depiction Of PTSD. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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