The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Mental Health, PTSD, and Literature

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, mental health and PTSD
Sam, played by Emma Watson, and Charlie, who appears to have PTSD, by Logan Lerman From guardian.co.uk

Perhaps I enjoyed watching the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower so much because the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky, directed it. Judging by the frequency of his name on the credits, he did most the work. Therefore, it seemed incredibly difficult for the film to be unfaithful to the book; a novel that I remembered enjoying some years ago.

The film hit home hard on many levels. The story of Charlie, a high-school “wallflower” affected by mental health problems, seemed all too familiar. I was practically his female equivalent when in secondary school. He says the wrong thing, and then he worries incessantly about the consequences. His family believe that everything is fine, and that he will automatically make friends at a new school. He’s tormented by troubling memories, including his best friend’s suicide and a history of childhood abuse that’s gradually unveiled. Charlie cannot blame others; instead he manages to find reasons to relieve them of it. For instance, that they had a hard life, they had relationship troubles, they were treated unfairly. This attitude continues until his feelings bottle over after a breakdown. For someone with PTSD, this film was emotional to watch.

Another aspect I related to greatly was the relief Charlie finds in literature and music. The friendly, supportive bond he forms with his English teacher is admirable, and it even makes me consider the job for myself. The teacher, played by Paul Rudd so well, helps a student like Charlie in what I see as the best way possible: he shares books with him. By giving him literature like Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye, Charlie finds he can trust him. Charlie knows that he can ask him about almost anything, even love. Teachers should take notes on Paul Rudd’s performance. For anyone nerdy like me, below is a list of the texts that Charlie receives in the novel. It’s interesting to consider how reading the following would shape a young person…

Books mentioned in The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

 

 

So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

 

Get a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower here.

Lucy
It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.