PTSD “Outside The Wire” In The Theater Of War

Philoctetes, wounded, is abandoned by the Gree...
Philoctetes, wounded, is abandoned by the Greek expedition en route to Troy, detail of an Attic red-figure stamnos, ca. 460 BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What can we learn from a Greek tragedy?

Do you have vivid memories of a high school class where the syllabus included Greek tragedies? Maybe it was an English honors class or perhaps just a simple introduction to the classics where you were expected to read and digest works such as Sophocles’ Ajax, Antigone, or Philoctetes.

Perhaps your first introduction to such works came in college. One wonders how many people were just happy to make it through one of these classes with a passing grade, simultaneously wondering how in the world one would ever apply the lessons of Ajax to his/her own life experience.

Outside The Wire uses the theater of Greek tragedies

Outside The Wire’s Mission Statement

Outside the Wire is a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end of life care, prison reform, political violence and torture, domestic violence, and the de-stigmatization of the treatment of substance abuse and addiction.

This organization has a number of projects:

  • Theater of War
  • Addiction Performance Project
  • End of Life
  • Prometheus in Prison
  • Acts of Violence

Theater of War

If you’ve served in the military during wartime or if you have family members or friends who are war veterans, then conceivably you’re familiar with the term theater of war or even specific theater of operations (like the Pacific Theater of Operations or the European Theater of Operations of World War II).

Outside the Wire, according to its co-founder Bryan Doerries, refers to:

…a military term that describes when service members in a warzone travel outside the perimeter fence of a camp, base, or forward operating base. Going “Outside the Wire” presents a great personal risk to those who do it, and so we thought it would be an appropriate name for a social impact company that challenges and inspires audience members to take personal risks by speaking openly and honestly about difficult subjects.

Meet Bryan Doerries and award winning actor David Strathairn

On September 26, 2014, Bryan Doerries, David Strathairn and Paul Reickhoff appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program to discuss the Theater of War as communal treatment for PTSD.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Some closing thoughts…

As is so often the case with human nature, we tend to think that we experience life in a vacuum. We make the assumption that no one will ever understand what we are feeling or the context of our feelings. We choose not to talk about our symptoms, because if we do then it becomes “real.” Family members do this, too. They are reluctant to share with friends and other relatives when someone close to them shows signs of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism or drug addiction. Sharing makes it real!

Here you can find upcoming performances of Theater of War or contact Outside the Wire.

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