An Exploration of the Relationship Between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Post-Truth Via a Meta-Fictional Novel and Critical Exegesis

  • Stephen Pryde-Jarman

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This creative thesis relates to the experience of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a Post-Truth (PT) world. It comprises Death of a Flying Monkey, a meta-fictional novel of approximately eighty thousand words, and an accompanying exegesis of approximately twenty-five thousand words. This exegesis explores my personal experience of PTSD counselling sessions and the increasing parallels between my brain’s subjectivity and ‘alternative facts’ perpetrated from post-truth politics. It also details the creative challenges and processes in capturing this experience in a work of experimental fiction.

The novel is set in a "re-storied" world much like our own but not the same. The protagonist is Sam, a clickbait writer suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The novel interweaves personal experiences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the broader cultural theme of post-Truth, where identity, reality and fantasy come together. It also employs the fluidity and flexibility of meta-fictional devices, such as various writing styles, narrative experimentation, and linguistic devices, to evoke the world of post-Truth through the lens of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A flying monkey is a phrase used in popular psychology to characterize individuals acting at the behest of another to control a targeted individual. It is a metaphor lifted from the MGM film The Wizard of Oz (1939) wherein the Wicked Witch of the West used winged monkeys to carry out evil deeds on her behalf. Death of a Flying Monkey contributes to knowledge by applying an original experimental approach to the experience of PTSD in a post-truth world.

The proceeding exegesis sits alongside the creative work and starts with definitions of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post-Truth. Next, it discusses the correlation between the two and how the novel's meta-fictional experimentation works as both the medium and the message. Finally, it explains the key influences, awareness of themes and establishes the work within the literary tradition.
Date of Award10 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorSteven O'Brien (Supervisor), Alison Habens (Supervisor) & Deborah Shaw (Supervisor)

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