Given the intensity of the experience Phillips endured, it’s no wonder it had such impact it had on him when it was over. This is demonstrated in the films’ final moments thanks to Hanks’ impressive deterioration during his medical check. While not an accurate depiction of Phillips’ real experience in that moment, it was similar to how he handled it personally in the days that followed: this is a case of a movie capturing the essence of a person’s real-life experiences, rather than an exact portrait.
Speaking openly about the ordeal in the aforementioned Reddit AMA, Phillips revealed that he didn’t break down exactly in the same way as Hanks’ version of him did in the film, but the trauma soon kicked after. “2 days after in the movie it shows me crying in the hospital, and the incident actually occurred the 2nd and 3rd night, I would wake up in the night and I had a digital clock so I knew exactly what time it was, and I would be crying, racking and sobbing,” Phillips said, recounting the life-changing encounter.
Thankfully, Phillips eventually contacted a SEAL psychologist who assessed his condition, explaining that it was a chemical release the former hostage was going through and perfectly normal. “For the fourth morning, I woke up at 5 in the morning crying and sobbing like a little baby and I just let it flow for 45 minutes and it ended on its own. And it never happened again after that.” It seemed to be a lesson that Phillips valued and was happy to advise others going forward. He claims that, in the years since, he has never had any nightmares about the clearly traumatizing experience that he survived. “And so I truly believe now that it is important to talk to someone who can help you, and to cry.”