Fanfiction and PTSD: Going Beyond The Winter Soldier

I gave this talk at Nine Worlds in August 2016.

Hello everyone, and welcome to my talk. Before I go much further, I’d just like to say that I am going to be discussing traumatic acts and their impact in detail, so if you want to leave at any point, please feel free to do so. Take care of yourself.

Firstly, I want to explain that when I say “Beyond the Winter Soldier”, I mean in terms of how fanfiction goes beyond what is shown in the film and answers the questions that many of us have. I will also be reading you some fanfiction – I was going to use multiple fanfictions, but in the end there was just one really good one that I had to go with.

In my own life, I have gone through several experiences that have left me with PTSD and other trauma-related mental issues. So when I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it really spoke to me, and I found myself writing my own healing through fanfiction about Bucky.

It is extremely rare that you see a male character as vulnerable as Bucky was in that chair. Most of the time when male characters are vulnerable, they are angry, cracking jokes, trying to fight back. For example, think of the torture scene with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale – he’s taunting Le Chiffre to show him that his spirit can’t be broken. And whilst those are valid responses, they are often the only responses we ever see in movies and TV.

But Bucky wasn’t fighting back, because Bucky couldn’t. The thought of fighting back could no longer occur to him. That is extremely powerful to me, because that feeling of helplessness and of being controlled very likely hits home for far too many of us.

There is an important parallel that I want to draw here. I believe that many writers and readers of fanfiction that explores abuse, trauma, and recovery are trying to explore a fictional character’s abuse and healing as a form of self-care.

This is at the core of why I’m doing this talk. It seems to me that a lot of the demand for these recovery stories, of someone re-gaining their sense of self, of someone being able to rely on the people around them for support, of someone helping you to put all your broken pieces back together, is because so many of us need to hang on to that hope that we will, eventually, be alright.

Of course, it’s not just Bucky that has all these stories written about his experiences; basically all of the Avengers do, including Steve, Nat, Tony, and Clint. Clint in particular had quite a similar experience to Bucky in terms of someone getting into his head and taking his free will away, and it’s interesting to me how many Clint/Loki fanfictions there are out there that explore that abusive dynamic.

However, some characters do not seem to occur as often when it comes to stories of recovery – I would argue that Sam Wilson is also dealing with a raft of issues, and that the reduction of him to therapist or rebound in many fanfictions is a great disservice. I say that as someone who has written fanfiction where Sam is there for Bucky in a therapeutic capacity, though I am intending to rectify this with a tie-in story. We’ll come back to why people like Sam Wilson are not always given the space for their own pain and healing later on, but in a nutshell, it is because there is a very strong tendency for black characters to usually be the ones offering support – very rarely the one who is broken.

But let’s get on and have a look at some of the ways that PTSD is handled with Bucky in particular. The first thing I’m going to do is an in-depth reading of how Bucky’s trauma – which arguably is the dominant story thread across the Winter Soldier and Civil War films – is presented in the canon.

I am assuming that 99% of people here know what’s happened to Bucky, but if not, you’re about to find out.

So Bucky is captured, tortured, and experimented on whilst he’s on the front lines in Italy. Not only does he have the trauma of war, he now has the additional horror of being a POW. This is already a huge and horrible level of intensity, but then he falls off a cliff and into the stuff of nightmares.

We don’t know exactly what happened to him with HYDRA, but we know at least the following:

– They cut off his arm and made him a metal one, and he was conscious for at least part of this process

– They electrocuted him numerous times

– They brainwashed him and programmed him with codewords

– They took away his memories, his personality, and his sense of self

– They froze and unfroze him, with who knows what amount of care for how dangerous that is to a human brain

– They dehumanised him

– They beat him

– They never left him alone, except occasionally on missions

– He was constantly surrounded by people with guns and other weapons, again except on missions

Is the psychological impact of any of this confronted in the canon film? Well, only sort of: we have that one scene with Bucky in the chair; and the rest is through Steve’s reactions. Seeing Bucky alive is such a shock that Steve allows himself to be taken prisoner. That is huge, because Steve’s default is “I could do this all day.” – and given that the films are generally shown from his perspective, I’d conclude that we are meant to feel just as shaken.

When Bucky is in the vault, we see pain and confusion on his face, but no real anger, no fear; at that point, he is only barely capable of registering that something is wrong. He has flashbacks which he doesn’t fully understand; flashbacks which we can either assume come from having seen Steve for the first time in 70 years, or may potentially happen every time he is out of cryogenic freeze.

The outward sign of those flashbacks are a violent physical reaction — he pushes his technicians away and ends up with several guns aimed at him. His body language here is stressed, is angry, is demonstrating pent-up violence. But it’s plain that he doesn’t know why he is feeling that way. His face is so vulnerable it hurts, especially when talking to Pierce. If you were to ask him how he was feeling, I’m not sure he’d know.

And in all honesty, for much of the film, we don’t know what he’s feeling either; there is very little actual speech from Bucky in the film, despite the fact that in many ways he is the real centre of it. But then we have his exchange with Steve towards the end of The Winter Soldier.

Steve: You know me.

Bucky: No, I don’t!  [attacks Steve]

Again, we see violence here; but this time, I believe it is coming from pure denial. It could be denial of Steve’s words; it could be denial of himself. Steve continues, because of course he does.

Steve: Bucky. You’ve known me your entire life. Your name is James Buchanan Barnes.

Bucky: SHUT UP! [hits Steve]

What I wonder here is – is it Steve that he wants to shut up? Or is there something here telling him that yes, this is true? Again, we may have denial here. This is the same kind of denial that many of us go through when we realise for the first time that yes, we were assaulted; yes, we were abused. Sometimes we also lash out because we don’t want to accept the enormity of what has happened to us.

Steve: I’m not gonna fight you. You’re my friend. [drops his shield]

Bucky: [Lunges at Steve and repeatedly pummels him] You’re my mission! YOU ARE MY MISSION!

Steve: [bruised and bloodied just as the Winter Soldier is about to deliver a final blow] Then finish it. ‘Cause I’m with you ’til the end of the line.

And Bucky pauses. And this is where Tumblr has come in extremely handy, because someone has already noticed what I am about to show you. Sebastian Stan portrays this moment extremely well.

After Steve says “‘til the end of the line”. Bucky goes through the following emotions:

Anger. Shock. Pain. Realisation. Fear.

Fear. For a lot of people who deal with PTSD, fear is a foundational part of our experience from the traumatic event onwards. It can be a sort of retrospective fear, if at the time your reaction was to freeze or to disassociate in order to not feel the terror of that moment. Instead, it comes back to haunt you every time something similar happens – every time you’re in a similar place, for example.

Another sort of fear shows itself in your behaviour towards others for years, maybe even for the rest of our lives. It’s a kind of anticipatory fear, which manifests itself in a range of behaviours that are created to protect ourselves from the trauma happening again. For example, you might lash out or be cold towards people who care about you, because a part of you thinks that maybe by hurting them first you can avoid them hurting you.

In some cases, this can extend to control and power issues. You begin to attempt to control the people around you through your anger, which is rooted in your fear of them hurting or leaving you. And in this way, the cycle of abuse often continues.

You might try desperately to keep the people around you happy so that they can have no reason to hurt you; you might always agree with what they want, leave all the decisions to them, stop expressing your own preferences, try to make things as easy for them as possible. If you keep them happy at all times, then nothing bad will happen, because they won’t have any cause to harm you.

The point I’m trying to make here is that fear is really important when it comes to discussing trauma and recovery. What happens in the last two Captain America films does not, in my view, adequately address this. However, there is definitely some sort of recovery taking place for Bucky between the point that he leaves Steve on a riverbank and when we see him again in Civil War.

In that film, we see how hard Bucky is trying to reclaim himself, and he wants to do it alone – maybe because it’s safer for him, maybe because he thinks it’s safer for everyone else. He is living a life, sustaining himself, creating a book of memories which seem to mostly be about Steve.

When Steve finds Bucky for the first time, this exchange occurs, which gives us a bit of a glimpse into what Bucky is thinking and feeling.

Steve: I know you’re nervous. And you have plenty of reason to be. But you’re lying.

Bucky: I wasn’t in Vienna. I don’t do that anymore.

“I don’t do that anymore.” This is a very sure statement. He has a sense of identity now, of what he does and does not do; what is right and wrong for him to do.

Steve: Well, the people who think you did are coming here now. And they’re not planning on taking you alive.

Bucky Barnes: That’s smart. Good strategy.

You can take this in at least two ways. One way might be that it is still easy for Bucky to slip into mission-mode — he’s thinking of what he would do if he was trying to catch a dangerous super-soldier. The other way is that Bucky thinks he probably deserves not to be taken alive. Self-hatred would not be surprising considering his history.

The last piece of canon dialogue I’m going to look at is near the end of Civil War. Steve and Bucky are flying to what might be their deaths, having left the rest of the Bucky Barnes Defense Squad behind.

Bucky: What’s gonna happen to your friends?

Steve: Whatever it is… I’ll deal with it.

Bucky: I don’t know if I’m worth all this to you.

In this situation, I think it’s fair to say that what Bucky is really saying is: “I am not worth all this to you,” or maybe “I should not be worth all this.” He is intensely aware of the deaths that have been caused by his hands, if not his mind. He has red in his ledger, just like Natasha; but he doesn’t think that anything can ever wash it out. He has guilt written all over him, which is emphasised by what they say next.

Steve: What you did all those years, it wasn’t you. You didn’t have a choice.

Bucky: I know… but I did it.

In some ways, that’s healthy. That’s acceptance of what happened, even knowing that he was not in control of himself; that’s knowing that there are a lot of people – maybe extremely significant people – that would still be alive if it wasn’t for him.

In other ways, he does not deserve the self-hatred that he is clearly heaping on himself at this point. He was literally brainwashed; he could not have done anything to stop himself. His entire morality, his personality, his memories were gone. He was the gun, but Hydra was the trigger finger.

So. So far we have: fear, guilt, self-hatred, pain, and a lot of anger – though the first flush of that anger may well have dissipated a bit after two years. It may not. We all deal with these things differently.

But what happens at the end of the film, in my opinion, does not deal with any of this.

If we step inside the fiction, as we have been doing so far, and judge Bucky as a person instead of a creation made of words and actors, then I can accept that he decides not to consciously exist in the world whilst he’s still concerned that he may hurt or kill people. It could be that he is tired, so tired, of fighting. Lots of us are.

In fact, a lot of fanfiction uses this idea that Bucky misses cryo, because he didn’t have to deal with all of the shit in his head. And that’s exactly what happens. He has himself frozen, and as I say, I can understand that if I allow myself to ignore all outside factors.

HOWEVER. From a writing standpoint, this is incredibly lazy, and I am furious about it. This is like the Bury Your Gays trope, but with a freezer. I have a horrible feeling that after having written about all of the things that Bucky has been through, all of the trauma, all of the torture — the writers decided that it was a bit too difficult to actually deal with.

And yes, it is very hard to deal with recovery and post-traumatic stress disorder. But a lot of us do it anyway, because we have to. It would have meant a lot to show a full and complex story of psychological recovery.

They didn’t do that; and I suspect they never will. So let’s turn instead to the ways that fandom has engaged with Bucky’s trauma and the ways that people have written his recovery.

A lot of the stories dealing with Bucky come under the genre of hurt/comfort, which essentially encompasses all stories which involve a character being emotionally or physically hurt, and then recovering and healing with the help of their platonic or romantic partner.

However, there is another genre of fanfiction that often goes along with hurt/comfort. That is darkfic; the stories that explore things darker and bleaker than the original would ever go. With Stucky in particular, one form of this is so popular that it has its own name: Hydra Trash Party.

These fanfictions usually include raw, graphic descriptions of what Hydra did to Bucky, and how Bucky felt or feels about it. There is often a lot of horrendous sexual assault and rape in it, as well as physical violence and psychological trauma.

My suspicion is that there’s a heavy overlap between trauma survivors and people who read and/or write darkfic, including Hydra Trash Party. A lot of people can’t figure out why on earth survivors would read or write this kind of thing, particularly not in the kind of detail that is often present.

For some of us, it can just be us working out our fears, our fantasies, our distress, our battle to continue surviving in a way that liberates us. Speaking for myself, there is an immense feeling of catharsis in writing and reading about a fictional person going through trauma and then being healed through the support and love of others – though I’ve never written fic as dark as the ones we can come across.

It is not inherently self-destructive or unhealthy; for the vast majority, it is not glorification or exploitation. In an unusual way, it is self-care. We know it’s fiction. We know these people are not real. But that doesn’t make our feelings and our reactions to them any less real or any less valid.

So you get stories about Bucky with eating disorders, tics, flashbacks, nightmares, touch-aversion, phobias, violent outbursts, dissociation, paranoia, obsessive behaviours, and seemingly counter-productive needs and desires.

One of the best examples of this is a fanfiction called Ain’t No Grave (Can Keep My Body Down) by spitandvinegar on Archive Of Our Own. It is a delicate yet confrontational, detailed, subtle depiction of what happens if Bucky is very much Not Okay in the way that most neurotypical people would think of as being “okay”.

I’m going to read you quite a long portion of the fanfiction so you can see what I mean, but I am not going to apologise for that because it is literally one of the best fanfictions I’ve ever read.

Buck gives him a little salute. “Asset comma The, codename Bucky, reporting for duty. Thought we’d already finished with exchanging names, champ.”

“You, uh.” He licks his lips. “You didn’t sound so much like yourself, just now.”

“Th-th-th-the b-b-b-b-brain,” Buck says, and then huffs out an exasperated breath. His head jerks again. “M-m-m-m-memory. Language. Hallucinations. P-p-paranoid d-d-d-d-d-d–” he stops, and takes a deep breath. “Delusions. Interm-m-m-mittant m-malfunction.”

“Oh,” Steve says.

“D-don’t think about it too hard, slugger. Wouldn’t want you to h-h-hurt yourself.” He fishes around in his knapsack and pulls out a battered composition notebook and a pencil, and writes something onto a page near the back. Then he says “the s-s-stammer doesn’t happen too often. Think you make me n-n-nervous.”

“Sorry,” Steve says.

At this point in the fanfiction, Bucky begins speaking in Mandarin Chinese; I’m afraid I don’t speak it, so I won’t butcher the language. When he realises what he’s doing, the following happens.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He smacks the side of his head with his hand. “F-fuck.”

“Buck — ” Steve starts, but now Bucky is staring intently at something to Steve’s immediate left.

“Do you. See that man.”

Steve looks, then pulls in a steadying breath. “There’s no one there, Buck.”

“Acknowledged,” Bucky says. “Hallucination.” The tic happens again, the jerk of his head harder this time, so hard that Steve wonders if it’s painful. Buck doesn’t seem to notice it. “Are you sure. That you’re not. A hallucination?”

“Yeah, Buck. I’m real.”

We have a lot of things happening here. We have a stammer, we have tics, we have visual hallucinations. We have drastic changes in the way that Bucky speaks – and I don’t just mean speaking Chinese without realising it. There are places where Bucky is speaking as fluidly and capably as anyone; but there are places where he can’t, and there are places where he sounds like he’s giving a mission report. These are just a few physical and verbal consequences of his trauma – the kind of consequences that we will never see him show on screen.

I didn’t cover it in the extract I just read to you, but Bucky also has a different identity that he uses. That identity is called John the Revelator, which is a sort of halfway house between his Winter Soldier mode and a person with a very Joker-like gleeful vengeance. He puts this face on when he is tracking down the people who hurt him and criminals in general. This is another thing that can sometimes happen when a person undergoes drastic trauma: they develop split identities to deal with it, sometimes superficially, sometimes severely.

He is also addicted to heroin.

However. At the same time as all of this, Bucky is taking care of two homeless teenagers; and he is doing it really quite responsibly, even if they’re all homeless together and they think his name is John. He is making sure they go to school; he is making sure that they sleep; he is making sure that they eat, and eat well rather than subsisting on noodles and such. At the same time, he warns them not to come near him if he’s asleep and screaming, never to approach him from behind, and never to touch him.

This is a Bucky Barnes who knows thoroughly what has happened to him, and who has worked out ways of dealing with it and protecting others from himself. He has also, to some extent, accepted that there are things that he cannot change, and perhaps can’t ever deal with.

He is also able to notice that other people might not be able to deal with his coping strategies. The first time that his fostered adopted children see him turn into the Revelator/Winter Soldier, the following happens – and again, this is a long section, but it is very important, and very good. This is the first time that Bucky’s foster children, who he affectionately refers to internally as the Goddamn Kids, see Bucky dressed like The Winter Soldier.

That blank mask turns toward them. Mikey almost pees himself. Then John’s fumbling with the straps, yanking the goggles up onto the top of his head and pulling the mask off so that they can see his face again. “You’re scared,” he says “Of me.”

He sounds so sad, but Mikey is pissed off, so he says “Well, yeah, Freddie Kreuger, because you’re fucking terrifying.”

And then Mikey feels awful, because John goes completely still like he does when he’s freaking out about something, says “I w-w-w-w-wouldn’t h-h-h-hurt y-y-y-y-y-you,” and does that thing where his head twitches. He hasn’t stuttered like that in a week, and now he’s all fucked up again because Mikey yelled at him, and Mikey is totally the worst kid who ever lived, even if foster daddy is a scary murder-robot. He’s trying really, really hard not to stare at that arm.

Lily says “We know, we know you wouldn’t hurt us,” all quiet and calm. “But what are you doing? You have a grenade. I mean, that’s – you could hurt a lot of people, John.”

Mikey is doing a really, really bad job of not staring at the arm. John walks over and kneels next to Mikey’s sleeping bag. He says “Hey, champ.”

Mikey looks up at him. He’s still not even a little used to how John’s face looks without that gross beard, kind of soft and young and way too skinny and so fucking gentle, like he isn’t literally covered in knives. John holds out his metal hand with the palm up. “You can touch it. If you want.”

Mikey reaches out and touches John’s palm. “Oh my God, you’re so cold,” he says, and puts both of his hands around the metal one to warm it up, because John shouldn’t have to be that cold.

John kind of smiles at him a little. “I can’t. Feel it.”

And then Mikey is crying, which is so dumb, and John just pulls him in and hugs him, even though the rule is No Touching John Ever. But now John’s rubbing Mikey’s back with his real hand and saying “Hey, slugger. S’okay. I got you. I got you.”

Bucky is sad that he frightened the kids; he has not considered this as a possibility before, because there is probably a part of him that is still re-learning what might be frightening to young humans. Bucky is more than sad that he has frightened Mikey and Lily: it triggers a bout of severe stuttering and tics that, in this fanfiction, probably represent trying to vocalise or repress extraordinarily strong emotions.

So he’s scared the kids. But he is learning fast, and once he is comforting Mikey, he slides back into what I think of as “old Bucky voice.” It sounds very much like something he would say to Steve after an asthma attack. Look again at what Mikey sees: Bucky is “so fucking gentle” to him. And then Bucky breaks his “no touching” rule to comfort a child.

This is, I would argue, a very good demonstration of someone who is making pretty big strides towards recovery.

Not content with all of this, this fanfiction also deals with body issues. This is the third and last extract that I’m going to read to you.

He goes to Steve’s apartment and he runs a bath and he takes off his clothes and he looks at the body.

The body –

The body is negative.

Wilsonsamuelthomas would say that the feelings about the body are negative.

Buck thinks that’s some doubletalking bullshit.

The body holds the knife. The body pulls the trigger. The body sits in the chair. The body spills its contents. The body screams and thrashes. The body stinks and oozes. The body is due for an upgrade. The body has modern enhancements. The body is fucking disgusting. The body takes what it’s given.

Steve shouldn’t have to touch the body.

He wants Steve to touch the body.

On the second night after the Goddamn Kids move in with him Steve says, “Mind stepping on the scale for me, Buck?”

He steps on the scale with his boots still on. The scale says: 184.

The body has made Steve unhappy.

Two weeks later Steve is looking at him. He looks –

Happy?

He says, “Want to hop back on the scale?”

The scale says: 190.

The body has made Steve happy.

Here we have dissociation of body from mind. We also see that Bucky has difficulty in engaging with his feelings about his body — at first, all he can say is that it is negative. Eventually, he admits that what he feels is3 that his body is “fucking disgusting”. But we, as readers can look between the lines for the rest of it.

The body holds the knife – the body is dangerous.

The body pulls the trigger – the body is murderous.

The body sits in the chair – the body is passive.

The body spills its contents – the body is out of his control.

The body screams and thrashes – the body hurts.

The body stinks and oozes – the body is damaged.

The body is due for an upgrade – the body is tortured.

The body has modern enhancements – the body is operated on without consent.

The body takes what it’s given – the body is used by someone else.

In addition, these last three all sound like something Bucky has heard and is repeating to himself. You can imagine someone saying to him that he is due for an upgrade, or speaking over him, describing him like the latest car.

This is what leads to Bucky thinking that Steve shouldn’t have to touch him, even though he wants him to. This is self-disgust. This is self-hatred – I’m not sure how many times I’ve said that in this talk so far, but it remains true.

And then there’s the surprise that his body was able to make Steve happy. This breaks my heart most, because I am sure it sounds familiar to a lot of us: how strange, how unprecedented, that someone has positive feelings about our horrible, disgusting, ugly bodies. We can barely believe it.

All of this is in just one fanfiction. There are so many others. There are some that involve Bucky having a therapy dog. There’s one that has Bucky with a therapy llama. There’s some that have Bucky going on a roaring rampage of revenge. There’s some that have SHIELD involved, and some that run as far away from SHIELD as possible. But what connects them all is support by the people around Bucky. They show it in different ways, but mostly, they just want to help; and generally, he learns to trust them to be there for him. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So. All of this is to show you that the way that fanfiction deals with trauma and PTSD is not just much better than we will likely ever get in the films, but it is necessary and highly relatable to our lived experiences. There is so little media out there that deals with this.

And so, I need to speak to you also about other characters who are apparently not allowed or not seen, either in canon or fandom, to have trauma and other kinds of psychological pain. I was going to talk about all of the Avengers – because they all have different trauma to deal with – but this talk was already too long.

Instead, I’m just going to talk about the black men we have here, because we don’t have any prominent women of colour in the Avengers yet, and even white women are thin on the ground.

First, the good part: T’Challa loses his father in Civil War, and has his own roaring rampage of revenge to try to right that wrong. But first, we see him mourn. We see pure anguish. I was really relieved to see that, especially for an explicitly African black man; I’ll be interested to see if the impact of a parental death is explored at all in the Black Panther film.

Sam actually has a lot of parallels with Steve. He went to war to help people. He saw his best friend day in front of him and there was nothing he could do. He returned home and…then what? I desperately want to know. Was he like Steve, distracting himself with work and punching things whilst living in a grey room? Was he like Tony, trying over and over again to retroactively protect Riley? We don’t know. So tell me! Why don’t we see the price that Sam pays for his constant supportiveness and calm? I am tired of seeing Sam Wilson cast as a supportive therapist figure again and again – and like I said, I myself am guilty of this.

The movies aren’t going to show us. They have Sam’s distrust and fear of Bucky played as a joke – which, whilst well-acted and the kind of thing I can laugh at when I turn off my critical brain, is something I absolutely cannot blame him for. I can appreciate that Sam may be scared and suspicious of someone who tried to kill him twice whilst at the same time knowing that it is not Bucky’s fault.

Meanwhile, we have Rhodey. Will we be seeing a huge surge in popularity of the Tony/Rhodey relationship in the light of his injury? Probably not, though I have seen some encouraging fics about Tony helping Rhodey to recover – and we saw that near the end of Civil War, which I just loved. But on AO3, I think there are less than 500 about the two of them – despite the fact that, like Steve and Bucky, Rhodey and Tony have been best friends since forever. Though in a slightly shorter version of forever. If he’s anywhere, he’s supporting Tony in troubled relationships with Pepper or Steve or both. What has he been through in all of his years at war? What has happened to all of the worry and anxiety that Tony must have put him through? That kind of pain must go somewhere.

Or take Nick Fury. Much as I love love LOVE Samuel L Jackson’s portrayal of Nick Fury as a scheming hardass, I’ve seen that before. One of my favourite moments in Winter Soldier was just before Nick Fury got attacked – he asks Hydra, who are dressed as police officers, if they want to see his permit. You realise that Nick Fury was born in 1951? He lived through Jim Crow. He saw the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

There are stories upon stories here, and they are not being told, and since we can’t rely on TV or film to tell them, we have to.

And that’s essentially the conclusion here. So much of fandom is telling the stories that have little to no chance of being aired for a mainstream audience; so much of it is us talking to each other through other characters, saying “Hey, seem familiar?”

Do you know how much information I have learned about taking care of myself from fanfiction? How many times I have read that I am allowed to want things that aren’t absolutely necessary – that sometimes, just wanting something makes it necessary? Things about figuring out what makes me feel safe and doing it more? Things about touching and holding things when I’m anxious? Things about recognising disassociation? That is what fanfiction about Bucky has given me.

We have to recognise the power of our writing – about PTSD, about trauma, about healing and recovery and the support that is so very needed – to change and help the people who read it. And that’s a very big, very good thing.

Thank you.

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