"All Quiet on the Western Front," by Erich Maria Remarque, portrays the daily lives of soldiers in action and shows the difficulties they face on the battlefield. By getting in these soldiers lives, we clearly see the slow and eventual development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The significance of this illness can be shown multiple times in All Quiet on the Western Front.
Paul Baumer, the narrator of the story, perceives how the war forces him to disconnect himself from everything around him. The war he fought made Paul extremely mature which made him no longer the average 19-year-old boy. "We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk." (Chapter 1).
Congressional Research Service has found that there were over 15,000 cases of PTSD in both deployed and not deployed soldiers in all services. (August 2003) Paul often describes his thoughts, feelings and experiences throughout the novel that show signs of PTSD. One example of this is when he states that he has "been startled by the screaming of the tramcars, which resembles the shriek of a shell" (Chapter 6) Many things can trigger a PTSD episode or attack. In Paul's case, the sound of a tramcar which sounds like artillery. Re-experiencing or reliving traumatic events that cause flashbacks and/or nightmares characterizes this illness. (helpguide.org) As he is reliving the traumatic events that occur during the war, he displays signs of this illness that include Depression and Alcoholism/Substance Abuse.
Another illness that is extremely common among soldiers and veterans that is presented in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front is alcohol addiction and abuse. People with PTSD can develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol. (CMHA.ca) Drinking is something that the men in the novel often do. One particular part displays signs of alcoholism during Paul's leave from the War.