Trauma in the movie Ordinary People (1980): An investigation of psychological trauma and recovery from a traumatic experience


  • Hajra Umer
  • Sabah Aziz



individual trauma; psychological trauma; PTSD; recovery from trauma; Trauma theory.


Trauma theory is an emerging field that is interdisciplinary and incorporates both psychological and physiological studies related to trauma. The main focus of trauma theory is the exploration of the workings and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Embedded in the trauma theory, this research aims at carrying out a qualitative analysis in order to explore the workings of trauma and recovery from traumatic experience. The study shall deal with analyzing Conrad’s character in the movie Ordinary People (1980) by evaluating different behavioral patterns exhibited by him in the movie. In order to explore the working of trauma, the study shall utilize the diagnostic criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association (2013) that lists the symptoms related to traumatic disorder. In order to explore the process of recovery, Herman’s three stage model (1992) of recovery from trauma is utilized. The research findings conclude that Conrad’s character suffers from trauma exhibiting most of the symptoms listed in the diagnostic manual. These symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, isolation, irritability etc. The findings also show that Conrad’s character successfully undergoes all three stages of recovery. He transforms into an emotionally stable individual after the recovery process occurs. The study has made use of the film medium in order to create awareness about the trauma related issues focusing on the role of professional and social help for traumatic individuals.