The scene in question:

In this scene, Bradley Cooper's baby is crying in the hospital. First he politely asks a nurse to tend to her, and the nurse ignores him and the baby. The nurse continues to ignore his repeated requests and he gets increasingly frustrated and the sound and the crying swells.

Maybe the nurse is justified, maybe not. Maybe Bradley is overreacting, maybe not, but I don't understand why this scene was included; does anyone know its significance?

I looked up the script to see if it had any insight. He doesn't seem to get as agitated in the script, in part maybe because the script says the nurses don't hear him, whereas in the movie they appear to be ignoring him.

enter image description here

4 Answers 4


One of the key focuses of the movie was to show how PTSD affects families. This scene and others are in the movie to show an indication that Chris Kyle is suffering from PTSD.

Here is a snippet from a Psychology Today on this topic.

American Sniper - The portrayal of PTSD in this academy-award winning film

Chris/Bradley starts to show many of these symptoms, mostly in-between his second and fourth tours. He remains adaptively sharp and competent on the battlefield but during his brief re-integrations into normal society and home life there are some telltale signs: we see him uncomfortable in his own skin, anxious about being away from the battlefield, lost in thought (awful war-related recollections) and, less frequently, sucked back into some re-experiences. He is also adamantly opposed to his wife’s efforts to discuss his experiences and, in general, seems unable to relax into his old life and affable persona. His default mode at home is irritable and guarded; he is visibly edgy when lawnmowers sound off, and inappropriately panicked when his infant cries.

  • 4
    Psychology Today is COMPLETELY full of it if they think the reaction portrayed in that snippet would be inappropriate. But then, psychologists have a terrible track record at actually improving children's lives, so I can't say I'm surprised. For parents out there: yes, you should care about your baby, and if the hospital staff aren't doing so, take the kid home fast.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 10:49
  • 3
    @Wildcard: I think they are saying that a parent panicking at a child crying is inappropriate (in the sense of unexpected), not that it's an inappropriate depiction of PTSD. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:03
  • 2
    @WillihamTotland I guess that Wildcard is saying that the depicted reaction is not inappropriate and panicking is OK.
    – Federico
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:44
  • 16
    Well, babies cry for many reasons. Good nures can easily check why the baby is crying and whether it needs to be comforted ASAP or whether it can wait a while. Father behind glass wall cannot assess it at all. Chris is stuck in action-mode - he traits his baby as his teammate and approach its cry as teammate's wound. He is stuck in all-hostile environment where seconds matter, seconds in this snippet, obviosly, do not matter.
    – Crowley
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:54
  • 2
    @Federico understood me correctly, except I disagree that the video portrays "panicking." More like getting frustrated/annoyed/upset at (a) being ignored and (b) his baby's crying being ignored. And Crowley, I agree with your comment about "good nurses can check...." but that's not what's portrayed, is it? The baby starts crying, the nurse completely ignores it and goes on ignoring it even as it cries louder.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 13:17

From the medical side: The nurses were engaged with other patients (infants). The nurse rocking the baby was tending to that infant, while the other nurses were doing like-wise. They are professionals and no one likes to be told how to do their job by a layman.

Also, we are not aware of the interactions with his baby by the nurses previously to when the scene begins-someone may have just been with his baby and was now tending to others. He was distressed by feeling out control at what he perceived was the baby's distress without knowing what attention she had received previous to his arrival at the window.

He started off polite but his anger escalated inappropriately-- because of his PTSD.

  • 2
    I'm not a parent, but if my newborn daughter was crying and the nurses completely ignored her and then completely ignored me when I asked for assistance, I can see myself getting frustrated as well. If the nurses did as much as look at me and guesture "I'll get to it in a minute" or "don't worry she's fine", that would deescalate the situation. He's probably a little more riled up than I would get, but alone his behavior doesn't seem highly indicative of PTSD to me. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:11
  • Regardless of the perceived "ignoring," Chris' rapid escalated anger was inappropriate and counter-productive. Definitely PTSD. -Military Veteran with PTSD.
    – M.Mat
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 18:31

Also from the Chris's perspective, one of the issues that was at the core of his PTSD was his survivor guilt, or the desire to save more of his comrades-in-arms. This sentiment, coupled with the natural new-parent hypersensitivity, hit two triggers at once when he saw his baby in a situation of distress where he was unable to render assistance.


Babies cry. A baby crying for a little bit is not that big a deal, though it will distress parents, especially new ones. It's pretty clear that the point of the scene, and his freak-out reaction to the situation, was to illustrate the impact that war had on him, in the form of PTSD, despite his outward appearance/facade of being calm, in control and unflappable.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .