Trips and Readings from the Split House: Melville, Stone, Moby Dick, and Platoon

In this essay, Oliver Stone’s film Platoon is compared to Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick as stories in which two protagonists, Chris and Ishmael, leave their homeland on a perilous voyage. Ishmael joins the whaling Pequod, seeking whales in the world’s oceans, while Chris goes to combat in the Vietnam woods. The conflicts of their split homeland, the United States of America, are present in both storylines. Platoon depicts the daily battle of a small unit in a military film where fighting sequences are central. Multi-ethnic troops conducting search and destroy operations reflect socioeconomic tensions in the US. Platoon is on the lookout for a tenacious and defiant foe of American science and military might. The novel Moby Dick is a metaphorical depiction of a divided America and Captain Ahab, who is obsessed with avenging himself on the White Whale. Platoon and Pequod are destroyed by American policy in Vietnam, much like Moby Dick. Using Michel Onfray as a guide, we view both stories as journeys that begin in a library and whose heroes imitate the Greek Achilles’ gesture of fleeing a comfortable home life for the dangers of the world on their way to immortality. Whether in Pequod or Platoon, our heroes take the risk of eventually maturing with the help of a metaphorical family of brothers. Ahab and Barnes, their symbolic parents, are castrating, tyrannical, and oppressive. The heroes’ complete independence occurs when they meet and eliminate their symbolic parents, bringing an end to their round trip back to the home from which they had set out.

Author (S) Details

Jose Mauricio Saldanha-Alvarez
Cultural Studies and Media Department, Federal Fluminense University, Brazil.
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Quality of Life of Palestine Children Exposed to Wars in Gaza

Aim: This study aimed to investigate the impact of trauma due to wars on quality of life of Palestine children living in Gaza with special reference to 2009 war.

It is analytic study; the study sample consisted of 195 children and adolescents who were selected purposely from three areas in the Gaza Strip. Those children exposed to variety of traumatic events besides losing their homes during ground incursion of the border and shelling and bombardment of the area. They were 101 boys (51.8%) and 94 girls (48.2%). The age ranged from 7 to 18 years with mean age of 12.84 (SD = 2.9). Children were assessed by socio-demographic questionnaire, Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist, and Health Related Quality of Life.

Results: The highest frequencies of reported traumatic events by Palestinians children were 97.9% hear shelling of the area by artillery, 93.3% hear the sonic sounds of the jetfighters, 90.8% watched mutilated bodies in TV, and 85.6% were forced to move from home to a safer place during the war. The study showed that mean total quality of life was 62.80, physical functioning was 69.87,   emotional functioning was 51.96, mean of social functioning was 77.62, and school functioning mean was 47.53. Total traumatic events reported by children were negatively strongly correlated with total Health Related Quality of Lief (HRQoL), physical, emotional, and social functioning. However, traumatic experiences by children were not correlated with school function.

Conclusion: In summary, this study not only supports the findings of the body of research as it relates to traumatic experiences in children and adolescents and impact of their health quality of life, but also has important implications for establishing and implementation of different psychosocial intervention programs for the school-aged population in Gaza Strip. There are need to be considered in the planning of educational and mental health support services by different governmental United Nations organizations, and non-governmental organization in Gaza. Also, successful treatment of the mental health symptoms associated with traumatic events first requires an acknowledgment of the trauma and then a process which allows for comprehensive assessment and accurate diagnosis. 

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Prevalence of Psychosomatic Symptoms among Traumatized Palestinian Adolescents in the Gaza Strip

Aims: To estimate the prevalence of psychosomatic symptoms among traumatized Palestinian adolescents in Gaza Strip. 

Methods: The study sample consisted of 380 adolescents randomly selected from secondary schools in Gaza Strip, of whom 171 were boys and 209 were girls between 15-18 years. Data was collected using a socio-demographic checklist, the Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist, and the Psychosomatic Symptoms Scale. For statistical analysis, questionnaire data was normally distributed, for this reason independent t-test was used to investigate differences between two groups. Associations between continuous variables were measured by the Pearson’s correlation coefficient test. One-way ANOVA post hoc Tukey was used to investigate differences between more than two groups.

Results: The most common reported traumatic events due to the war on Gaza were: watching mutilated bodies and wounded people in TV (92.3%), and hearing shelling of the area by artillery (89.4%). The mean number of traumatic events experienced by Palestinian adolescents was 14. Boys reported significantly more traumatic events than girls. Adolescents from family with monthly income less than 150 US $ experienced more traumatic events than the other groups. Mean psychosomatic symptoms was 48.19, digestive system symptoms was 19.97, cardiovascular symptoms was 10.23,  respiratory system symptoms was 3.82, urogenital system symptoms was 2.98,  skeletal musculature symptoms was 5.29, and skin symptoms was 7.34. Boys scored more in total psychosomatic and skin symptoms. There was a significant relationship between traumatic experiences and psychosomatic symptoms.

Conclusion: Palestinian adolescents experienced significant traumatic events due to the war on Gaza Strip which were significantly associated with developing psychosomatic symptoms. Such findings highlight the urgent need for establishing community mental health school based programs to help adolescents with such symptoms and increase awareness about their nature and management. Also there is need for conducting training courses for teachers and school counsellors to increase their knowledge about general mental health problems in schools and ways of dealing with such problems. Also, training courses for primary care and hospital physicians, who might attribute to physical causes, and liaison between physical and mental health services.

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