Survivors suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PETS), which impairs their ability to live normal lives and raise their children. By understanding the causes and symptoms of PETS, it can be properly diagnosed and treated, stopping this cycle of dysfunction. During the Holocaust, Nazi Germany attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population from Europe. Nazis effectively gathered and murdered almost six million Jews, making It the worst genocide In history. Bladed and his wife, Ninja, were sent to Auschwitz, a concentration camp where at least at least one-third of all the deaths occurred “Holocaust”).
In the story, many characters describe the horrors they went through during the capture. When Art goes to see his psychiatrist, a survivor himself, he asks him what Auschwitz felt like. The psychiatrist replies, “How can I explain? BOO! It felt like that. But always! From the moment you got to the gate, until the very end,” (Mass II 46). The vellums suffered humiliation, starvation, tremendous physical strain, displacement. And lost all of their freedom. All of these things lead to the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disease that affects them for the rest of their lives.
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PETS is caused from severe trauma or stress that an individual Is put through that has lasting consequences. According to the National Center for PETS, “most people who are exposed to a traumatic, stressful event experience some of the symptoms of PETS in the days and weeks following exposure Roughly 30% of these Individuals develop a chromic form that persists throughout their lifetimes,” (“What”). Some of these symptoms Include, major depression, conduct disorders, drug abuse and dependency, simple phobias, and social phobias.
The family of the survivor can also be affected by the disorder, (“What”). As, Dry. Yale Daniel states in his article, entitled “As Survivors Age”, what happened in the parents’ generation must affect the next, even if the child was born years after the Holocaust (Daniel). Art, his father and his mother all exhibit some of these characteristics. The characters have unnecessary anxiety, fears, obsessions, depression, and relationship problems that are shown throughout Art’s narration. Bladed has many anxiety issues that directly relate to him surviving the Holocaust.
He obsesses over money, making sure he never buys anything he does not have to and balances his checkbook until it is completely even (Mass II 23). One time while walking with Art, Bladed takes some phone wire he finds in a trash can. When Art asks him why he can’t buy phone wire, Bladed remarks, “SSH. Why always you want to buy when you can find!? ” (Mass 1 118). According to the Trauma Recovery Program, “trauma itself triggers the anxiety disorder of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” (“Causes”). The traits expressed through Art’s character are not unique to him, but can be found repeatedly in the Holocaust survivor population.
Blade’s anxiety can also be shown through his dreams. Bladed has had nightmares ever since he had been in the concentration camps, another moon symptom of survivors (“What”). One evening Art and his wife Fran??ois hear Bladed moaning in his sleep. When she asks what the noise is, he explains, “he’s moaning in his sleep again. When I was a kid I thought that was the noise all grown- ups made while they slept,” (Mass II 74). Blade’s dreams are common among trauma victims. Research has shown that, “people who suffer from PETS often relive the experience trough nightmares and flashbacks,” (“What”).
Survivors’ dreams are most often related to a specific traumatic image or situation the individual was put in, that continues to haunt them years later. Art shows many signs of anxiety as well. There is barely any frames in the entire story that don’t portray him with a cigarette, a common habit practice for relaxation. The meticulous attention he gives to his work, such as decided which animal to draw Fran??ois (his wife) as, also shows this (Mass II 11). Much his anxiety has developed by living with parents who suffer from PETS.
Living with someone who has PETS can cause symptoms very similar to the disorder itself, and the anxieties of someone, such as a parent, can lead their significant others to feel Just as anxious (“Post”). Bladed shows signs of obsessive-compulsive crosiers too. He counts all his pills, money, and even the nails in his shed. He keeps his house completely clean and organized. One time, when Art spills ashes on the carpet, Bladed becomes extremely upset saying, “but look what you do Artier! You are dropping on the carpet cigarette ashes. You want it should be like a stable in here? (Mass 1 52). Bladed is also very controlling of his son. He likes him to be nearby and even throws out Art’s Jacket one time to give him a new “nicer” one without telling him (Mass 1 68-69). This need to control is part of Art’s anxiety issues and results from PETS. Depression is present in 51. 9% of men and 48% of women who suffer from PETS (“What”). Blade’s depression is expressed in many ways. He does not like talking about his experiences in the Holocaust. Though Art has heard pieces of his father’s story, it is apparent through his commentary that he has never heard the whole thing.
Bladed also does not like to be reminded of Ninja. While Bladed tells Art he has burned all of Anna’s things, he says, “these notebooks, and other really nice things of mother… One time I had a very bad day… And all of these things I destroyed. After Ninja died I had to make an order with everything… Hose papers had too many memories. So I burned them,” (Mass 1 158-159). Many people who have PETS avoid reliving the traumatic experiences and memories (“Post”). They also tend to migrate away from Europe after the war.
Despite the success Bladed has in Poland before and after the war, he decides to move with Ninja to America. Dan Saving M. D. And Shalom Robinson M. D. Report that, “after the Holocaust, many survivors moved to new surroundings… Where there were not so many constant reminders of the trauma,” (Robinson). People lost their entire lives, including their family and possessions. By leaving Poland, they hope to be able to forget by not having so many physical reminders. Ninja shows signs of depression as well. She had depression and Bladed describes her before they were married as always being “anxious”, (Mass 1 19).
Ninja was unable to cope with the loss of her son and almost her entire family. Years afterward she committed suicide. Suicide rates have become increasingly high among people who have suffered severe stress and trauma. Many people feel guilty for having survived the Holocaust when they were unable to help their loved ones survive (Robinson). According to Yale Daniel PhD, “the recent suicides of several giggly successful and socially prominent Holocaust survivors highlights the potential risks of failing to appreciate the internal distress among survivors in the face of apparent success,” (Daniel’).
Survivors, like Ninja, feel like they did not do all they could have to help their family and feel guilty for moving on with their life. Art suffers from depression as a result of his parents struggle with it. He has been in a mental institution (Mass 1 100) and sees a psychiatrist to help him deal with the issues in his life (Mass II 43). He confesses to his psychiatrist that all he remembers bout his father is arguing with him and never feeling good enough. The psychiatrist explains to him that Bladed probably inflicted these feelings on him, out of his own need to feel like he survived because he was better, to ease his guilt.
On the other hand, Art also feels guilty for surviving. He feels as though he will never live up to the memory of his brother, Richer, who died in the war, and feels guilty for not having been trough what they did (Mass II 43-46). Art was also greatly affected by Anna’s suicide as well. This is shown in a very emotional comic Art wrote soon after his other’s death. In it he tells his mother, “you murdered me! ” (Mass 1 103). Art also calls his father a murderer when he finds out Bladed burned Anna’s Journals (Mass I 159).
This is an example of how Art’s parents’ struggle with PETS have greatly affected him. The National Center for PETS says that when someone suffers from PETS their family often feels, “hurt, alienated, or discourage, and then becomes angry or distant at the survivor,” (“Post”). This behavior is very obvious in Art and Blade’s relationship, in their consistent bickering throughout the story. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder effects the lives of everyone involved, not Just the victim of the trauma.
The survivors of the Holocaust experienced such torture that they obviously could never recover. Mass shows that the symptoms of PETS and the problems it imposes upon the family of a survivor make it a disorder that must be identified in people. There are many ways to treat PETS, for the survivor and his family, which include medication, group, individual, cognitive-behavioral, and exposure therapy (“What”). Though none of these are a cure, by being aware of the disorder, people will be able to lead normal lives and have healthy relationships with their family.