Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or "Shell Shock" is a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person's life. One of the major symptoms of PTSD is "recurrent, unwanted distressing memories or dreams of the traumatic event". A number of characters in Peaky Blinders appear to suffer from it, the most notable ones being Thomas Shelby, Arthur Shelby Jr., and Danny Whizz-Bang.
Symptoms & Diagnosis Edit
Thomas Shelby is seen reliving a memory from the war whilst dreaming, in the first scene of the series: he is with Danny Owen and Freddie Thorne in the tunnels, trying to listen in from the other side of the tunnel wall. They are attacked, beaten and strangled by their enemies and Thomas wakens from the dream with a start, breathing heavily. He later says about how he sees his own wall like the tunnel wall, hearing digging and hoping that the imaginary German soldiers would not break through, a similar recurring event he will have at night.
Danny Whizz-Bang's first appearance in the show is a violent outburst: he barrels through the doors of The Garrison Pub, knocking over tables and breaking glasses and shouting repeated words, imagining himself still at war. His psychotic episodes are what earn him the name "Whizz-Bang", after the term used to describe the noise made by German artillery shells. Danny's recurring episodes later cause him more trouble in the show as it eventually happens at a place where neither Thomas nor Freddie are around to help.
Arthur Shelby Jr. is different from Thomas and Danny, as it appears he does not have recurring memories, nor apparent haunting dreams of the war. However, the experience still troubles him and affects his behaviour, especially when provoked or during a fight, causing him to show complete lack of control over his impulse to kill whomever he is fighting, such as an innocent young boy in the boxing ring, whom he beats to death.
Thomas Shelby and Danny Whizz-Bang's method for easing stress and symptoms involves the smoking of brown opium with a clay pipe. In the first episode, Thomas is seen lighting the opium and putting it to flame, then drawing from it.
Professional PTSD treatment is on an individual basis and has advanced to have far more understanding, where in the time set for Peaky Blinders there was little to no treatment available as this was the first time the symptoms where truly coming to light. One common activity in treatment involves having the patient relive the entire traumatic memory on their own terms and to come to understand that these events were real and that the patient is no longer in danger.
- As the term PTSD hadn't existed at the time, during WWI, it was commonly referred to as Shell Shock.