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Maus and the Psychological Effects of the Holocaust

            The Maus books are award-winning comics written by Art Spiegelman. They are the non-fictional stories of Art and his father, Vladek. In the book, Art Spiegelman is a writer, planning to portray Vladek's life as a Jewish man during WWII Europe in comic book form. While Art gathers information for his story through visits to his father's house, much is learned about their relationship and individual personalities. Through this analysis, Maus becomes an example of how the Holocaust has effected the lives of survivors and their children for decades. Survivors suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which impairs their ability to live normal lives and raise their children. By understanding the causes and symptoms of PTSD, it can be properly diagnosed and treated, stopping this cycle of dysfunction.
             During the Holocaust, Nazi Germany attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population from Europe. Nazis effectively gathered and murdered almost six million Jews, making it the worst genocide in history. Vladek and his wife, Anja, were sent to Auschwitz, a concentration camp where at least at least one-third of all the deaths occurred ("Holocaust"). In the story, many characters describe the horrors they went through during the capture. When Art goes to see his psychiatrist, a survivor himself, he asks him what Auschwitz felt like. The psychiatrist replies, "How can I explain? BOO! It felt like that. But always! From the moment you got to the gate, until the very end," (Maus II 46). The victims suffered humiliation, starvation, tremendous physical strain, displacement, and lost all of their freedom. All of these things lead to the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disease that affects them for the rest of their lives. .
             PTSD is caused from severe trauma or stress that an individual is put through that has lasting consequences. According to the National Center for PTSD, "most people who are exposed to a traumatic, stressful event experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the days and weeks following exposure [.

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