The Effects of Violence: Ishmael Beah's Memoir, A Long Way Gone

Topics: Ishmael Beah, Military use of children, Sierra Leone Civil War Pages: 4 (1257 words) Published: September 27, 2011
The Effects of Violence
“I was afraid to fall asleep, but staying awake also brought back painful memories… These days I live in three worlds: my dreams, and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past” (Beah 19). Quoted from Ishmael Beah’s memoir A Long Way Gone, is an example of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the many themes and effect of war and violence present in this book. According to the Journal of Controversial Medical Claims, post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened and can affect both children and adults (Anderson 1). As a child Ishmael Beah goes through an unimaginable amount of life threaten violence that is both inflicted upon him and inflicted on others forcefully by him. Although having escaped the violence of war and is now an adult living a life of newly discovered happiness, Baeh is still unable to escape his traumatic past. In Beah’s memoir, he describes on many occasion of being afraid to sleep due to not wanting to wake up in cold sweat from the torturous memories of what seemed like a never-ending life of violence. These nightmares occurred during his time of being attacked, to his time of doing the attacking, following him all the way to New York after escaping the attacks in all. The nightmares were so bad that during his time as a child soldier, Beah used a mixture of cocaine and gun power called brown brown as a way of keeping him awake for days at time. At times, these “nightmares” were no longer nightmares, but hallucinations extending into his waking life. “Whenever I turn on the tap water, all I could see was blood gushing out” (Beah 145).

Victims of violent crimes and combat veterans, both of which describes Beah, are at high risk of post-traumatic disorder. A research of 103,788 veterans from both the war in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals that 25 percent of war...

Citations: Anderson, Jane M. “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Recognized in Victims of Many Traumas.” Journal of Controversial Medical Claims (May 2007) 1-11
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007.
“Interview with Ishael Beah.” Kennedy School Review (2007)
Russell, Lorea & Gozdziak, Elizabeth M. “Coming Home Whole: Reintegrating Uganda’s child soldiers.” Georgetown Journal of Internation Affairs (2006) 1-57
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