1. Laura wise

    Laura wise Member

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    Tips For Writing Characters With PTSD

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Laura wise, Jan 29, 2017.

    The title says it all really, basically I want to write a character with realistic paranoia and PTSD. The basic idea is that because of the fact he saw a friend murdered at the age of 8 he developed an intense fear of masks leading to a fear of mascots as well.

    The thing is, I have no idea how far to go, at them moment the basic thing is if he notices someone in a mask he'll just silently speed walk away without telling anyone and if one catches him by surprise he'll just sprint to the nearest safe place (bathroom, outside, a nearby shop etc) and refuse to come out until he's been assured the masked person is gone. He will occasionally be struck with nightmares and is very distrusting of strangers. Finally, on some days, he will just be hit with a wave of guilt and depression, confining himself to his room and coming off very standoffish or aloof.

    Am I doing an okay job? Is there anything more that I can do? I'd really appreciate any tips/help anyone has.
     
  2. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    I assume that the murderer was wearing a mask? What kind of mask was it, or does it really matter?

    Also, you could check out maskophobia (fear of masks); here's an article I turned up with a quick Google search.
     
  3. Laura wise

    Laura wise Member

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    I am aware of Maskophobia, I have it myself but I just wasn't sure how far I should go is all.
     
  4. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    The age of the character at the time of the story will have a bearing on this as well. Anyone who's suffered childhood trauma (most of us, if the truth be known) will develop coping mechanisms as I'm sure you've done in your own life.

    Figuring out how far to go might be a matter of examining your own coping mechanisms as well as researching others with this phobia. This should give you an idea of the range of reactions various people may have over the course of a lifetime and should help you decide just how far to take it.
     
    Reed R Gale likes this.
  5. Reed R Gale

    Reed R Gale Member

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    I guess the question I want to ask is 'how important is this to your story?' If you want to know 'how far to go' with this, just consider how important you want it to be in the story. That's how I look at it. If you want readers to pay attention this action, and it'll come up again in the future, then make it memorable enough for people to actually notice. Otherwise, if it's just a character trait to flesh out a person, then just the reactions occur intermittently.

    As far as form though, @Sack-a-Doo! has the right of it, I think. Look into your own actions and see how you want to convey it to others.
     
  6. Lucifette

    Lucifette Member

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    It's really up to you. Everyone deals with PTSD differently. For example I know 2 people with combat related PTSD: one has nightmares and can't stand to have people behind him for fear of being attacked. The other it manifests in anger and he lashes out when he feels overwhelmed but doesn't have bad dreams and is otherwise alright with loud noises. The thing with PTSD is that is rears its ugly head in many different ways which are not always directly related to the problem. For example your character may have developed an aversion to unfamiliar faces because it reminds him of an unknown person who murdered his friend. Or maybe he feels like he absolutely has to find out who everyone is that he comes in contact with because the last time he was faced with a stranger, a loved one died. Or there could have been a particular smell that night that triggered memories whenever he smelled it. It doesn't have to be visual but could affect any of the five senses.
     
    IHaveNoName and SadStories like this.

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