How does Hollywood media depict military member & veterans diagnosed with PTSD?

There are two rich arguments to support the controversy media outlets face when discussing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is unfairly depicted because of the media’s inability to address issues of sensitivity. As an active researcher for this study, I’ve been able to collect data based off of the theory that media can and in fact does have the ability to increase awareness for PTSD and vocalize a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. At some point, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will have to be approriately addressed by the media.Through thorough observations of multiple veteran based cinemas, it is clear that Hollywood’s “norm” has remained stagnant throughout the the decades. As a society we have been exposed to outdated opinions that address the condition and how veterans with the diagnosis should internally address their condition. The “norm” that was created by the media is in need of refinements and professionally documented results. In recent years cinemas portraying war veterans as “conscience stricken” has become taboo.

The phrase “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” is barely used in day-to-day conversations. To some it’s considered offensive and to others it’s a “self produced illness” veterans develop upon returning home from war. Consciously people reject the power of film, but subconsciously a films “social norms” are retained and acted upon. Despite popular belief, films have the power to create an unrealistic image for veterans returning home from war diagnosed with PTSD, mentioning that veterans with PTSD in the movies are seen as “weak” or “broken”. This inaccurate portrayal has been indulged in for decades and is one of the common reasons PTSD to this day is a controversial and overlooked topic. No direct methods were used in this study, just critiques and observations about various war films.


Aftergood, B., Andersen, B., & Aubrey, S. (Producers), & Berg, P. (Director). (2013, January 2014). Lone survivor. [Motion Picture] California: Universal Pictures.

Armstrong, T., & Olatunji, B. (2009). PTSD in the media: A critical analysis of the portrayal of controversial issues. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 7(1), 55–60.

Stone, O., Reidy, J., & Townsend, C. (Producers), & Stone, O. (Director). (1989, January 1990). Born on the fourth of July. [Motion Picture] Philippines; Texas, USA; California, USA: Universal Pictures.

(2014, January 2015). American Sniper: The most lethal sniper in U.S history. [Motion Picture] California: Warner Bros.

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Dominican University of California | Senior Thesis:“How does the Hollywood media represent war veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

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