[“Trigger Warning” – is a piece dedicated to showcasing video games which focus on mental disorders as well as emotional and psychological trauma. It is my hope as a lifelong gamer and sufferer of various psychological disorders to combine my greatest passion with my greatest weakness to benefit the gaming community at large. These pieces are meant to applaud games that I have found to appropriately exemplify such issues in the human condition. Some of them are visceral and violent games that take a liberal approach and are not for the faint of heart. Others take a lighter approach to the whole affair and can apply to a much wider audience. Hopefully, those who do not suffer from such afflictions can look at these games as a chance to grasp at something otherwise intangible. While those who do suffer from psychological afflictions can look to these pieces of fiction for hope and catharsis. Without further ado, enjoy. 🙂 ]
[By the way, this is the trigger warning for the article: Depression, Suicide, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Violence, Death]
Silent Hill 2, In Summation
Silent Hill 2, despite its age, is a timeless game that discusses how we interpret our own sins and whether or not one’s own misdeeds can be justified. James Sunderland (the protagonist and player character), Eddie Dombrowski, and Angela Orosco are all called by demonic forces to the town of Silent Hill for different reasons. They each have a horribly dark past that they suppress and refuse to acknowledge. The powers behind this hellish town draw these people in and force them to accept and confront their misdeeds. What the sinners do with that realization is up to them. In the case of Angela Orosco, she is subject to being sexually and physically assaulted as a child and presents a sad and all too common case for those who grow up being abused.
“I’m looking for my momma…”
James meets Angela almost immediately upon starting the game. While James is being called to Silent Hill by a letter somehow mailed to him by his late wife, Angela is looking for her mother. Almost immediately her dialogue indicates something might be a bit off. When asked why she’s headed to Silent Hill she stammers out, “I’m looking for my momma…er…I mean mother.” And offhand mentions she’s looking for her father and brother too. This initial conversation with Angela is awkward. Both characters look for something to say and Angela doesn’t seems to trust James. After noticing Angela’s unwillingness to talk to him, James heads into town.
Their next encounter has James run into Angela in an abandoned apartment building in town. He finds her laying on the floor of an apartment in front a room length mirror with a kitchen knife in her hand. Angela is contemplating suicide. James begins to try and talk her down. At first, she’s distrustful and won’t concede but eventually gives way. She suggest, “Maybe you should keep [the] [knife],… I’m not sure what I might do.” But when James takes a step forward, Angela screams and holds it out to defend herself. In a panic, she backs away from James apologizing “I’m sorry! I’ve been bad! Please don’t!” Before placing the knife on the floor and running away.
At this point, it’s clear that Angela has some unresolved family issues. But to what extent? This is unclear until you run across an enemy called The Abstract Daddy.
While traveling through a later portion of the game, James comes across a hallway covered with newspaper clippings of the murder of Thomas Orosco, who was violently stabbed to death. The murder being considered a crime of omission because of Thomas Orosco’s reported past of violence and drunkenness. A brief scream shatters the silent, paper covered hallway and James runs into a nearby room for what is the most horrific bit of visual symbolism in the game.
He finds Angela cowering in the corner of a room that is entirely coated in flesh. Metallic pistons are pumping in and out of holes in the room’s walls in what is undeniably symbolic of rape. The cold, unfeeling nature of an attacker’s phallus. In this case, Angela’s father. A horrific creature, called The Abstract Daddy, is advancing on Angela. This monster is depicted as a large, male figure whose flesh is stretched out over a bed frame that is looming on top of another, smaller figure underneath. This represents Thomas Orosco’s over-powering relationship with Angela.
James quickly dispatches this aberration sending Angela into a blind rage, grabbing a nearby television set to drop on the monster, and kicking its dead body. James attempts to help her but she recoils from him. Still, she cannot bring herself to trust James. When he offers help she claims “You’re just trying to be nice!”
Angela is shattered by what has happened to her. She cannot see genuine selflessness when it’s right in front of her. And all of her pent up rage and frustration comes forth in how she deals with her father’s abuse in what is her ultimate act of sin.
A Myriad of Afflictions
Angela Orosco is a prime example of the crippling effects of sexual and child abuse. First off, she’s completely distrustful of men. Her initial conversation with James shows her excitedly looking for her mother, who she is presumably attached to. She only reluctantly mentioning her father. In each instance of James trying to help her she rejects his help and has completely unwarranted outbursts. Despite James’ honest and good intentions she is wary of him. Reasonably so. Abusive people will often use affection as a tactic to get close to those they are abusing. It creates a cycle where the victim is on guard, then lowers their guard because of a few niceties, and the abuser can continue their actions. In Angela’s mind she has associated older males as people who cannot be trusted and will always look to hurt her. James fits this profile perfectly.
There is also the aspect of childlike regression in Angela. She constantly refers to her mother and father as “mommy” or “daddy” and is generally nervous around strangers like James. People who have experienced abuse as a child will often “regress” in their ways and go back to a child-like mental state. The abuse she suffered is stunting her developmental growth and is preventing her from realizing her adulthood. Furthermore, Angela’s age comes as a surprise considering her appearance. In the game, Angela’s conservative dressing style and older appearance give her the look of someone in their thirties. However, Angela is only nineteen. The amount of stress Angela has suffered has affected her physically as well as mentally.
Then there’s Angela’s sin. The murder of her father. While the taking of another human life is in itself wrong. It is completely understandable as to Angela’s actions. Pushed to the brink of insanity by the day in and day out abuse of someone who is supposed to objectively love and care for her. The human mind can only take so much conflict.
And it’s how she deals with that sin that is all the more tragic…
What One Can Gain From Silent Hill 2
Angela’s story in Silent Hill 2 ends with her looking down a flaming staircase at James. She keeps claiming that not only is she unloved by anyone, she is unworthy of being loved by anyone. “Even mama said it, I deserved what happened to me.” She is all but convinced that she is broken, unfixable and therefore not worth anyone’s time. James pleads with her to let him help but all she ascends the burning staircase out of James’ reach saying back, “Don’t pity me. I’m not worth it.” Even when someone is standing right in front of her, willing to save her from a literal hell, she cannot conceive of someone who would actually help her. And sadly, this is the case for so many people who are abused as children.
Sadly, all of the negative attributes of Angela’s character are only a few effects abuse can cause: regression, violence, distrust, and self-deprecation. There are countless other effects that are dependent on factors like the person’s psychological profile, their genetic makeup, the abuser’s identity, their environment, and so on. It can be difficult to pin down what exactly is affecting a person and hard to react to those factors as well. But it’s always important to remember these factors in dealing with someone like Angela. That they are in fact a person who is suffering immensely. Even if they have been removed from those abusive situations, the fact that their abuse happened while they were developing can drastically affect their psyche.
What’s more, people who are abused while young will usually take one of two paths in trying to deal with their abuse. They either go down a redemptive one or a destructive one. Those who follow a redemptive path will better themselves in spite of their abuse. However, people who tend to follow a more destructive sense will often lash out at others and continue the cycle of abuse, or they will self-sabotage and turn to self-destructive behaviors. In Angela’s case, she took both and externally and internally destructive path. She lashed out and murdered her father, and she is also completely depressed and disconnected to the point where she believes she is completely irredeemable and better off dead. Which is sadly the fate of so many adults abused as children.
Your Dear Writer’s Thoughts on Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2’s Angela Orosco condemns herself despite her youth. Despite all the pathways she can take for self-recovery. She still has so much to live for despite the tragedies of her past. It’s sad how many people abused as children will fall into the same mindset of self-destruction. Looking in on people who are like Angela, they might seem like either a hopeless case or an impossible task at reformation. This is, however, untrue and these kinds of people can still lead lives in spite of their afflictions. James sees the humanity left in Angela and reaches out but she recoils and we’re left with her ascending into the flames of her own personal hell. It’s important to realize this can be avoided by taking a more redemptive path. By reaching out when others try to help us and to be strong in our resolve to reach out to people who are shut off like Angela.
Angela Orosco is a reminder as to why it’s important to confront abuse. It’s important to look into one’s abusive past in a healthy and constructive manner to help search one’s feelings and ultimately try to never repeat the mistakes of one’s oppressor. In this manner, it can end the cycle of anger, and violence, and depression caused by so many abusive relationships.
We are who we choose to be, not what other people say we are.
Trigger Warnings for Silent Hill 2 – James Sunderland’s jourrny through the mist-shrouded town in Silent Hill 2 is without a doubt one of the most unabashedly dark videos games out there. It takes a look at murder, sexual/verbal/emotional abuse, denial, suicide, self-harm, psychosis, and a few other topics. It does so without pulling any punches. So the material at hand can be incredibly dark and depressing. I will say however, that all of this is brought about in an artistic manner that the horror genre has tried to emulate for decades now and has failed to match. So despite its dark themes, Silent Hill 2 is an incredible piece of art that seeks to bring these otherwise taboo subjects to light.