Trauma and Dissociation in All This Can Happen

Ross Morin


This paper is a close textual reading of Siobhan Davies and David Hinton’s experimental film, All This Can Happen, as an exploration of the causes, symptoms, and coping methods associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returned soldiers. The paper argues that the film repurposes Robert Walser’s short story, The Walk, as an autobiographical account of the mental illness that plagued the author later in his life. The paper examines the connections between the narrated text and the onscreen imagery to identify diagnostic criteria of PTSD (as characterized in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) such as dissociation, panic, depression, psychological and physiological triggers of flashbacks, avoidance behavior, hyper vigilance, and recurrent and intrusive thoughts. The paper concludes with an analysis of the film’s split-screen editing technique, arguing that the experimental form of the film places the viewer deeper into the psychology of the narrator and functions to garner greater empathy and understanding of his pain.


David Hinton; Siobhan Davies; Robert Walser; The Walk short story; DSM-5; PTSD; split-screen editing; trauma; returned soldiers; panic disorder; experimental dance film; found footage; repurposed footage.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Ross Morin

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