Light & Verity

Med school honors Trudeau for war strips

G. B. Trudeau. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicated.

G. B. Trudeau. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicated.

A Doonesbury strip from 2006 is part of an ongoing storyline about a returning veteran's bout with posttraumatic stress disorder. View full image

Combat flashbacks, nightmares, and marital troubles—not the kind of thing to give you a laugh over breakfast. "These aren't funny topics," said Dr. John Krystal ’84MD. "But somehow, humor makes them accessible, and by being accessible, makes them useful and important." Krystal, the deputy chair for research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, was talking about the comic strip Doonesbury, which has for the last five years featured the adjustment challenges faced by U.S. soldiers and marines returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recognition of this effort, the medical school gave its annual Mental Health Research Advocacy Award to Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau ’70, ’73MFA, on April 5. The brief ceremony came at the beginning of a half-day symposium entitled "Stress, Resilience, and Recovery."

In the strip, Trudeau has chronicled the efforts of B. D., one of the central characters, to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder after losing a leg in the war in Iraq. In accepting the award, Trudeau explained why he took up the issue. "Just as a classic therapy strategy for trauma victims is to get them to revisit tormenting ideas and events and reframe them, to diminish their power to harm," said Trudeau, "it seems important to be part of an effort to detoxify the psychological wounds of war by increasing public awareness of them." 

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