Kurt Vonnegut, PTSD, and Slaughterhouse-Five

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.” (Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)). Kurt Vonnegut came home from WWII suffering from PTSD. He struggled to overcome the horrors that he saw and turned to a pastime of his writing in order to recover. Although it took him many years to write, Slaughterhouse 5 became an antiwar book that inspired people to protest to the Vietnam War. It is considered a literary masterpiece by some and the ramblings of a delusional man by others. However one looks at it, the fact remains that Vonnegut’s writing will continue to inspire new readers for years to come. Kurt Vonnegut’s experiences as a POW in Dresden and the horrible things he saw likely scared him for life, which is why his writing is incongruous and centered around what he witnessed in WWII.


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For Kurt Vonnegut reading and writing had always been a pleasure. Surprisingly, in college he majored in chemistry and biology, he believes this was good however, because there were no professors telling him what to write and what to read.The birth of Vonnegut’s writing style began to take shape when he entered WWII. Kurt was flunking many of his classes in Eastern University. Then the USA entered WWII and Kurt, a pacifist, saw an opportunity to get away: “I was flunking everything by the middle of my junior year,” he admitted. “I was delighted to join the army and go to war.” (Indiana Historical Society). At first he was rejected for health reasons, but was eventually accepted into the Specialized Training Program to study mechanical engineering. Shortly after Vonnegut was shipped overseas, he was captured, and sent to a POW camp in Dresden. What Kurt experienced there left a scar inside him for the rest of …