Alice Sebold

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・1 Sources

Many young individuals nowadays, particularly females, face difficulties in dealing with the unpleasant reality of sexual assault. According to research, one out of every four women is subjected to some type of sexual assault. While there is counseling available to assist rape victims in dealing with their experiences, some are unable to obtain it owing to a lack of understanding and a fear of stigmatization. Alice Sebold, the author of fortunate, tells the true account of a young woman's experience, her struggle with sexual assault, and her rehabilitation from the most agonizing ordeal of her life. The primary heroine, Alice, was raped by a fellow student, Gregory Madison, during her freshman year at Syracuse University. The book, Lucky, gives the account of the life of Alice Sebold, from the time before the assault, the trial, and life after.
She describes her stressful experience as a struggle to survive the psychological and emotional agony and save herself from death (pg. 20). One of the police officers assigned to her case asked her to consider herself lucky, especially since her assaulter did not murder her, as was the case with most victims of rape, thus the title of the book. The novel depicts Alice's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD following the brutal manner in which she was stripped of her virginity and the brutal rape she experienced (pg. 248). A closer look at the character of Alice indicates that this was not just a narrative, but an apparently traumatizing experience. The rape did not only affect her physically but also mentally, therefore, Alice meets the outlined procedure for identifying PTSD following the given DSM V procedure.

DSM 5 Diagnosis

There are cases where symptoms of PSTD disrupt a patient's life making it difficult for them to get by. In most cases, these symptoms start to show immediately after an attack, but there are times when they show after months or years. PTSD is caused by traumatic encounters such as war, kidnapping, rape or other forms of physical abuse. There are given possible standards for diagnosing a person with PTSD listed in the DSM V which are expected to persist for more extended time periods before they can be categorized as PTSD.
The first indicator given is that the person must have undergone considerable stress causing factors in their life. The stress factor ranges from witnessing a brutal to being the actual victim of sexual brutality, a significant injury or a near-death experience. The outlined criteria for diagnosis requires that the stressor must be encountered through; extreme indirect exposure, indirect exposure through knowledge of someone exposed to distress, direct contact or witnessing. In the novel, the stressor was the ruthless sexual assault which Alice encountered directly.
The second specified measure for diagnosing PTSD in patients relates to symptoms which in most cases include; upsetting nightmares, recurrent memories and intense anguish from stress reminders. In the novel, Alice experiences more than one of these symptoms despite the medical diagnosis that patients have to exhibit one of the said indicators of PTSD. The first instance in which Alice shows some of the symptoms mentioned was her reaction at the time she accompanied her mother to pick her sister from school, and they drove through a community majorly populated by black people. Her attitude can be mistaken as a racist response, however, seeing black people was a stress reminder that triggered painful memories of her encounter in the tunnel beneath the university amphitheater (pg. 60). This made her feel sick and become paranoid thinking she had seen the man responsible for the assault.
Although her outward response to the rape was calm and composed, some instances aggravated the intrusive symptoms of PTSD. For instance, facing Madison, her rapist, even by chance, only made her situation worse and this affected her sex life and relationship. Even with her consent, sexual intimacy was a constant reminder of the rape which made her plunge deeper into distress. That is the reason why she ends up in tears after her sexual relations with Jamie. After one of her friends, Lila, was raped, Alice became more paranoid and experienced more distressing nightmares. It was as if she was being held captive by the sexual assault from which she could not flee.
The third standard indicator of PTSD is avoidance. Most patients strive to elude any traumatizing feelings, reminders or thoughts relating to their distressing encounters with stressors. This is the reason Alice had handled the whole affair with great strength and composure most of the time following the rape. She avoids talking of her ordeal to other, not only out of fear of their reaction but also because she was afraid of the intense effect it had on her (pg.68). In all her conversations, Alice tries as much as she can to get around saying the word itself. To make her relationship with her boyfriend, Steve, work, Alice decides to forces all thoughts of Gregory Madison and everything relating to the rape out of her mind. Her intimate relationship with Steve becomes more of a way to prove to herself that the sexual assault does not affect her.
Indicator number four used to diagnose PTSD is adverse changes in mood and intuition. Alice' life before the rape was, as she describes, flamboyant and socially outgoing. All these aspects of her change following the uneventful encounter with Gregory Madison. She becomes sad and disconnects from her family and friends and her initial perception of how things work in the world alters. The description in the novel suggests a constant cloud of fear lingering upon Alice as she describes the near-death experience (pg.20). She gets lost in the ordeal to the extent that whenever someone looks at her, she feels victimized. The college experience is supposed to be the climax of a teenager's life as they transition into adulthood, but unlike her mates, Alice does not get to explore her potential as she relives her ruthless escapade each day of her life.
The last specified criteria are changes in stimulation and reaction. Alice begins to indulge in drug use, heavy drinking and casual sexual relations with other guys as a way to cope with the sexual assault. This was her way of escaping reality which eventually led to drug addiction. Lack of sleep is one of the significant symptoms of PTSD which is often associated with feelings of hyper vigilance. Her sleeping patterns changed, especially whenever she encountered a distressful reminder of the rape like when her friend got raped and also the days before the trial


Having analyzed and related the given criteria for diagnosing mental disorders to the behavior of Alice described in the novel, it is right to conclude that Alice had a post-traumatic stress disorder. From the account given in the book, it can be deduced that she never got any professional help to cope with the traumatizing incident. Instead, writing became her alternative means through which she was able to shed the gnawing pain of her ordeal through expressing her feelings and thoughts on rape. She composes a poem about the sexual abuse which she shares with her class in college, later on, she writes a piece for the New York Times and eventually the book, Lucky. As a teacher, she works with young girls who have gone through the same experience helping them through the recovery process.


The author, Alice Sebold, depicted the main character's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder in a precise manner. The practical way in which she recounts the experience is based on the fact that she was writing from her encounter with rape. The general perception of sexual abuse is that the victims become unstable and angry unable to carry on with their life. While part of this is false, Sebold gives readers a more realistic experience that most victims of rape go through. It is, however, necessary to appreciate that people deal with sexual assaults differently, but the most familiar is their detachment which is often characterized by motionlessness. The book lucky was well penned such that the author captures not only the reader's attention but also their emotion and changes their perception regarding the suffering caused by rape. This aspect makes it recommendable especially for those struggling with sexual abuse.


Sebold, A. (1999). Lucky: A Memoir. Philadelphia, PA, Brown & Co.

Get a price
Academic level
Pages *275 words
Total price
$ 0 .00
$ 0 .00

Prices that are easy on your wallet

Our experts are ready to do an excellent job starting at $14.99 per page

What Clients Say About Us
Our Customers Rated UsGreat
Out of 5 Based on 357 Reviews
I experienced difficult times trying to complete huge number of assignments to my university at the same time and you, guys, literally saved me. Everything was done in time and on the highest level! I really appreciate your help.
Essay, History, 12 pages, 7 days, Master's
First time when I placed an order with you, I just lacked time to do all the homework and it was a lot going on in my family. But today I’m doing it sometimes just for fun – I really enjoy communicating with your Customer Support members and just letting myself being a bit lazy
Yuong Lo Mui,
Literature review, IT, 17 pages, 4 days, Master's
My GPA is 4.0 and I’ve always been doing everything myself, but there is a class which I was about to fail thus my GPA would decrease first time in so many years. I ordered few assignments to be completed with and you did a great job! Thanks to you I still remain one of the best students on campus.
Essay, Politics, 8 pages, 5 days, Junior
I am not used to such services and I usually write all the papers by myself. But this time I got in a very difficult situation and had to order my paper on this website. To my surprise it appeared to be quite good. Thank you, it is really nice service. Think I'll get back to you soon!
Thesis, Management, 34 pages, 14 days, Master's
I am on my maternity leave now, so I spend a lot of time at home taking care of my little son. I’ve decided to get one more higher education degree while I’m spending so much time at home and applied for distance learning in one online college. But caring a baby takes even more time then I excepted so I’m the way too busy to write the complicated masters level research works, but is so-so-so cool! Thank you for that you exist! I don’t know what I would do without you all!
Essay, Education, 15 pages, 8 days, Master's
I am studying and working at the same time and it is difficult to cope with university assignments as I am very tired after the work day. You service is a salvation for me as it helps to do everything on time. I am really happy about it. Wish you everything the best! Especially my lovely writer 109!
Coursework, Religion, 11 pages, 7 days, Master's

We at

work according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which means you have the control over your personal data. All payment transactions go through a secure online payment system, thus your Billing information is not stored, saved or available to the Company in any way. Additionally, we guarantee confidentiality and anonymity all throughout your cooperation with our Company.

Try our service with 15% Discount for your first order!   Try our service with 15% Discount for your first order!   Try our service with 15% Discount for your first order!  

Order Now