Jackie Kennedy Had PTSD After Assassination of JFK: Book

It was not diagnosed, but author says that's what she experienced
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2014 10:59 AM CDT
Updated Sep 21, 2014 11:05 AM CDT
Jackie Kennedy Had PTSD After JFK's Assassination: Book
In this Nov. 24, 1963 photo, Jacqueline Kennedy walks down the Capitol steps with daughter Caroline and son John Jr. after President John. F. Kennedy's casket was placed in the rotunda in Washington.   (AP Photo, File)

In the months following John F. Kennedy's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy often re-constructed the moments before his death, convinced she could have saved him. In a new book about those months, biographer Barbara Leaming reveals that Jackie was suffering from "what we’d now call post-traumatic stress disorder," according to an excerpt of the book printed in Vanity Fair. She couldn't bear to look at any images of her husband, cried often, drank a lot of vodka, and had flashbacks and nightmares so bad she'd wake up screaming—when she was able to fall asleep at all. If she had been looking right instead of left, she once reasoned, "I could have pulled him down, and then the second shot would not have hit him."

She also agonized over not recognizing the sound of the first rifle shot for what it was, for not being able to hold her husband's brains in his head as they drove to the hospital, and for not taking heed of what she later came to consider an ominous sign—the president was given red roses, not yellow, when the presidential party arrived at Dallas' Love Field. "I would have been able to pull him down, or throw myself in front of him, or do something, if I had only known," she once told a priest to whom she later confessed thoughts of suicide. "Do you think God would separate me from my husband if I killed myself?" she mused, before asking the priest to pray for her death. She even once expressed a desire for her death to set off "a wave" of suicides so that others could "get out of their misery"—like Marilyn Monroe did, she explained. Click for the full excerpt. (More Jackie Kennedy Onassis stories.)

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