Date of Award

Summer 6-11-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. English



First Advisor

Dr. Anthony Bleach

Second Advisor

Dr. Todd Williams

Third Advisor

Dr. Sandra Leonard


Post-traumatic disorders have been included in some of the most popular narratives in mainstream culture. Though the early decades of movies included 1948’s The Best Days of Our Lives is an award-winning movie that follows three veterans home from World War II and depicts their struggles with reacclimating to society it became more popular after Vietnam veterans and their allies fought and protested for an appropriate diagnosis for PTSD after decades of it not being seen as a legitimate psychological disorder. Since then, post-traumatic disorders have been included in media as popular as the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983, the most watched episode in history; and 2014’s American Sniper, the highest grossing military movie of all time.

Similarly, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which started with the release of Iron Man in 2008, continues to include depictions of characters struggling with long-term effects of trauma. This thesis will take a closer look at two pieces of Marvel media which both feature progressive depictions of narratives deeply rooted in the trauma many of the characters suffer. In The Punisher (2017), post-traumatic disorders are portrayed differently within separate characters, ensuring that the depiction within the show as a whole is dynamic. In Jessica Jones (2015), Jessica’s struggle with CPTSD manifests itself with a myriad of symptoms, each of which are depicted by the different ways they affect her daily life. The concluding chapter will include a brief history of the stigma against mental disorders and mental health therapy before looking at how the inclusion of therapy in these shows is working against these stigmas. It will end with a discussion of how Marvel is pushing the narrative that trauma is everywhere and can be felt by anyone regardless of background, as well as the importance of creating friendships and connections to the people around you in order to heal from trauma.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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