An Analysis of Picasso’s Guernica Painting in the Context of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that has been experienced since the first period of warfare. It was first named after the Vietnam War. Startle, re-experiencing, flashback, and hyperarousal reactions begin to be seen in soldiers returning from the military. For the first time, doctors refer to this condition as “bullet shock”. Until today, this situation is adapted to many situations (man-made and natural disasters) and enters the literature as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

His Relationship with Guernica

The Guernica painting was made by Pablo Picasso. The painting, which is about the war that caused the death or injury of many people on April 26, 1937, by the planes of Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War, tells the bombing of the city of Guernica in Spain. War has been the main problem of humanity since the beginning of human history. Picasso, inspired by horror and sadness, left a permanent work and criticism to the world.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Reflections in Guernica

At the beginning of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, startle, re-experiencing, hyperarousal and startle, surprise and shock are the main symptoms. If we examine the table carefully, it is possible to see the reactions in question on the faces of all living things. Although the flood of thoughts passing through the minds of the people in the painting is different from each other, the feeling of horror created by the war is felt in the mood like a pessimistic color that dominates the painting.

Mythological Perspective;

Like everything that the war divided into two, the figure of the bull is of great importance in Spanish Mythology and Culture. It symbolizes both power and wisdom (in this respect, it can be compared to Athena in Greek Mythology). The bull figure looks forward in the painting. This is like a confrontation made directly against the effect of war. And duality ( Experienced in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Fragmentation of Personality in the Form of Splits, Hyperarousal Reactions, and Amnesias) reflects.

In Guernica, where we see our existence in broad daylight and whose influence cannot be escaped, if we pay attention to a hand that is tightly wrapped with a knife, we will see that death is hidden there in all its reality, like a faithful friend.

Trauma memories are directly related to the way they perceive it. It is also a cause and also a result of escaping the effects of war and trying to cope with it. There is also a continuous circularity in the attribution of life and death in the table.

From a Collective Perspective;

The traumatic experience in the individual is in a one-to-one relationship with the past personal experiences. In Guernicada, the collective structure of the society and past war/civil war experiences add a grayness to the picture given by re-experiencing. ( The kind that never ends)

Trauma can also hinder the individual’s personal change and cause anticipatory anxiety. We can see this in the window where he looks towards people through a small gap in the painting. Just like traumatic experiences, the destructiveness of war ( thanatos) pervades us endlessly.

Often times in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder TimeThe concept of ” slows down and at that moment “ In Relativity Theory “As described, it may seem like it took us hours. We feel that time does not flow forward or backward. In the table, this Feeling of Stuck “It is felt everywhere. Some faces are also seen looking forward “as if they were still there”.

The horror of the moment; It also affects and intertwines place and time. We can’t see which one starts where and where it ends in the table. There is a dark reality like a day in eternity. Like Guernica, traumatic situations create a disorganized cognitive process in the individual. ( Place, time and person orientation may disappear.)

Seeing the scars of war as a devastation on the faces and confronting the mood swings with the identity of human beings proves Picasso’s great genius, the perfection of this work becomes more and more valuable every time he looks at it.

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