Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner is the story of Amir, a young boy growing up in Kabul Afghanistan, in the Wazir Akbar Kam district. Hosseini considers this a novel that displays themes of guilt and redemption.Violence brought upon and witnessed by Amir during the Taliban invasion is primarily what defines his character. The loss of both of his parents, the overwhelming guilt he faces after what happens to Hassan, something he could have prevented, and the traumatic events in which he is involved, there is no doubt to diagnose Amir with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reactive attachment disorder and clinical depression.
Amir develops posttraumatic stress disorder,In The Kite Runner , as a result of him witnessing the scarring event and the sexual assault of Hassan by Assef. In the article, “Introduction to PTSD Symptoms and Treatment,” John M. Grohol, Psy.D., describes PTSD as a “…debilitating mental disorder that occurs sometimes when a person has directly experienced or witnessed an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event.
” Those diagnosed with PTSD exhibit “…persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to” (Grohol). Amir demonstrates these symptoms after he realizes he could have prevented the rape. He reflects, “In the end, I ran. I ran because I was a coward.
I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. That’s what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Hassan” (Hosseini 77).
He stands and witnesses the entire incident, Hassan’s nightmare, unfold before his eyes.Amir never musters the strength or courage to step up for Hassan. Because of this he never can forgive himself for leaving Hassan to his own mercy: “Or, God forbid, what I feared most: guileless devotion? That, most of all, I couldn’t bear to see” (Hosseini 78).Frightening thoughts and nightmares haunt his mind throughout the book due to this incident. Amir shows symptoms of “frightening thoughts and memories” (Grohol);for the remainder of the book Amir is traumatized. Near the end of the book, similar to what had happened to Hassan, Amir was beaten by Assef. Although due to the stinging memory in his mind and the guilt that has followed him ever since Hassan was raped, he does not feel bad for himself at all. Amir views the event as revenge or karma for what he had done to Hassan: “My body was broken-just how badly I wouldn’t find out later-but I healed.
Healed at last. I laughed” (Hosseini 289). Even though Amir goes a similar situation as Hassan, the sexual assault of his best friend significantly changed his character in the book. Amir’s symptoms of “frightening thoughts and memories” and also “feeling emotionally numb” (Grohol) displays that Amir is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Not only suffering from PTSD Amir also clearly displays signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder.In the article, “Reactive Attachment Disorder Symptoms” Johnna Medina M.A., portrays reactive attachment disorder as a disorder “when a child fails to receive adequate comfort and nurturing from caregivers.” Due to a lack of genuine physical contact and nurturing as a child, many symptoms can be associated with the disorder.
Children with reactive attachment disorder “handle their emotions independently, do not look to their caregivers for support or protection, lack interest in daily activity, and will not ask questions” (Medina).His mother had passed due to his birth. “It was there in that little shack, that Hassan was born in the winter of 1964, just one year after my mother had died giving birth to me” (Hosseini 6). Through the beginning of the book Amir speaks about all he would have said to his mother had he known her. “How my mother even managed to sleep in the same room as him is a mystery to me. It’s on the long list of things I would have asked my mother if I had ever met her” (Hosseini 13). On top of losing his mother with his father still being alive he also felt detachment from him as well.
Amir believed that his father cared for Hassan more, the family’s servant, Baba loved more.Amir tried everything he could to try and get Baba to love him more, even if it meant bringing down Hassan. “Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price?” (Hosseini 77).
“Baba took me to Ghargha Lake, a few miles north of Kabul. He asked me to fetch Hassan too, but I lied and told him Hassan had the runs. I wanted Baba all to myself” (Hosseini 13).He tried to appear superior to Hassan in front of Baba, to make himself seem better. “Their heads turned.
Then a smile played on my father’s lips. He opened his arms. I put the kite down and walked into his thick hairy arms. I buried my face in the warmth of his chest and wept. Baba held me close to him, rocking me back and forth. In his arms, I forgot what I’d done. And that was good” (Hosseini 79). Due to the weak support system Amir felt with his father and never knowing his mother, he displays the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder.
Throughout his life he struggled with feeling worthless and always having to try so hard to seek affection.Conclusively,from all he has been put through,Amir can be diagnosed with severe clinical depression. In the article, “What is Depression?” John M. Grohol, Psy.
D., interprets clinical depression as “going by many names, such as “the blues,” biological depression, and major depression. All of these identities have one thing in common and that is a long term sadness over months or years— not just feeling down for a few days. Most often experience this along with other feelings such as hopelessness, feeling weighed down, and finding some or no happiness in activities you once loved. ” Some of the many symptoms of clinical depression include a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain, and having the constant feeling of being “slowed down” (Grohol). Amir shows these symptoms throughout the whole book but more prominently when Baba, the only parental figure he knew passes due to cancer.
“It started with a hacking cough and the sniffles. He got over the sniffles, but the cough persisted. Then, two weeks later, I caught him coughing a wad of blood stained phlegm into the toilet” (Hosseini 153). Baba was diagnosed late into his illness which became progressively worse. “Baba’s was called “Oat Cell Carcinoma.” Advanced. Inoperable. Baba asked Dr.
Amani for a prognosis. Dr. Amani bit his lip, used the word “grave.” “There is chemotherapy of course,” he said “But would only be palliative” (Hosseini 156). Throughout Amir’s life, he had his dad as his role model.
His mom died at a young age, so Baba was Amir’s safe place. He wanted nothing but for Baba to approve of him and love him. Eventually, Amir never left Baba’s side. Once Baba didn’t go through with the treatment available to help the illness, Amir didn’t know what to do knowing his only parent in life was about to pass away. “What about me, Baba? What am I supposed to do?” I said, my eyes swelling up. A look of disgust swept across his rain-soaked face. It was the same look he’d give me, when, as a kid, I’d fall, scrape my knees, and cry.
It was the crying that brought it on them, the crying that brought it on now. “You’re twenty-two years old, Amir! A grown man! You…” he opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, reconsidered it” (Hosseini 157). After Baba passed, Amir had no other parent in his life and didn’t know what he was going to do without him. “It’s done, then. I’m eighteen and alone. I have no one left in the world.
Baba’s dead and now I have to bury him. Where do I bury him? Where do I go after that?” (Hosseini 116). Amir had a drastic mood change as his character drastically developed at this point in the book. Due to his mood changing and loss of interest in things, it proves Amir could suffer from clinical depression