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Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 243–261 | Cite as

Drawing Invisible Wounds: War Comics and the Treatment of Trauma

  • Joshua M. Leone
Article

Abstract

Since the Vietnam War, graphic novels about war have shifted from simply representing it to portraying avenues for survivors to establish psychological wellness in their lives following traumatic events. While modern diagnostic medicine often looks to science, technology, and medications to treat the psychosomatic damage produced by trauma, my article examines the therapeutic potential of the comics medium with close attention to war comics. Graphic novels draw trauma in a different light: because of the medium’s particular combination of words and images in sequence, war comics represent that which is typically unrepresentable, and these books serve as useful tools to promote healing among the psychologically wounded. Graphic narratives, both fictional and non-fictional, illuminate the ways that the unseen wounds of traumatic experience affect public health by compromising the ability of communities, individuals, and survivors to create and maintain meaningful relationships with others.

Keywords

Trauma Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Comics Graphic medicine Graphic narrative Vietnam War Iraq War Afghanistan War 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thank you to John Said for introducing me to the concepts discussed in this paper and to Professor Susan Merrill Squier for her Graphic Medicine class at Penn State which taught me a great deal about comics and their therapeutic value. Thank you to Professor Kit Hume, Dr. Sarah Salter and Michelle Huang for reading the draft. Most importantly, I want to thank my wife Michelle for carrying me along.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English and PhilosophyATTN: MADN-DEP, United States Military AcademyNew YorkUSA

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