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Hagman, G. (2017). Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Trauma and Transformation in AMC’s The Walking Dead. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(1):46-56.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(1):46-56

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Trauma and Transformation in AMC’s The Walking Dead

George Hagman, LCSW

The experience of massive psychic trauma has been all too common in human history, uprooting us from the safety of our homes and thrusting us into strange and dangerous environments. The combination of uncertainty and stress bears down on us emotionally, putting the integrity of self-experience at risk. The psychological disorders resulting from trauma (such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and moral injury) can be disruptive, painful, and refractory. Among the many ways in which modern culture has reflected on these experiences, narrative media—such as novels, film, and television—have frequently dramatized the experience and aftermath of trauma. In this article I discuss the AMC television series The Walking Dead, which depicts the ongoing struggle of a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse. The psychological and interpersonal impact of coping with the demands of a postapocalyptic world is the primary focus of the narrative of The Walking Dead. I examine of the series’ sustained depiction of trauma. I stress the central role of uncertainty, the disruption of our assumptive worlds, and the loss of trust in the foundations of our lives.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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