A Battle:Cry for better understanding of PTSD
A new immersive project aims to expand the knowledge and understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a novel, multidimensional way. It promises to ‘move beyond the fictional stereotypes of combat-related PTSD to address common misperceptions and reflect the wider experience of those affected.’
Battle:Cry runs at the Mirror Gallery, South Hill Park, Ringmead, from 28 May to 3 July. There is a panel discussion on Thursday 9 June, 6-7pm.
The exhibition includes extracts from Lynn Hamilton’s short stories, together with Postcards from My Past, an installation artwork by psychologist and medical doctor Jennie Jewitt-Harris, and Sleepless Dreams, a piece of sound art by Oliver Jewitt-Harris that forms a response to the PTSD research and characters depicted in the short stories.
Lynn Hamilton is a medical and creative writer who likes to write in-between fact and fiction, art and science, and patients and doctors. She told us: ‘Whilst reading about mental illness in a self-help book or on a patient organisation website may inform a reader about symptoms and treatment, such settings rarely provide insight into the impact of disorders on everyday life. Fictional characters have the power to address these elements. Reading can provide catharsis, comfort and inspiration, and facilitate healing and wellbeing. That’s not a new idea, but these potential effects do underline the importance of accuracy in the presentation of fictional characters with illnesses such as PTSD.’
Hamilton recently completed a PhD that looked at the origins, portrayal and potential impact of PTSD in fiction. ‘Characters with PTSD have become a regular feature of fiction and drama,’ she said. ‘They are often immersed in the trauma of others, for example, in detective fiction, and their illness rarely goes beyond offering a casual explanation for the often solitary, unpredictable behaviour that advances the plot. This prompted me to ask what these characters could tell the reader about the wider suffering that accompanies PTSD. Could moving beyond the ‘broken hero’ stereotype allow a more holistic and sensitive portrayal, thereby contributing to greater empathy and understanding of PTSD?’
The project’s creators are promising a ‘multisensory creative response’ which ‘reflects the transient and historic nature of traumatic memories and seeks to stimulate discussion and expand understanding at a time when awareness of trauma and PTSD in broader settings is increasingly being acknowledged.’ The event will be supported by Combat Stress, the UK charity that supports veterans affected by PTSD.
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