The Psychology of Labrys (Spoilers)

#1 Posted by arbnpx (7 posts) -

I personally promised Brad Shoemaker that I'd post an in-depth analysis of the Labrys story in Persona 4 Arena. I'll have to apologize for taking so long to work up the courage to do it, but here is the start. This introductory post will be a spoiler-free summary of what I intend to cover, but in order to elaborate in detail, I'll need to post details of the Labrys storyline with spoilers.

I hadn't played any Persona games prior to Persona 4 Arena, nor had I watched the Persona 4 Endurance Run. I had actually purchased Catherine (both Japanese PS3 version and English PS3 version), and then saw that there was a Persona 4 fighting game. I have to admit that what drew me in was watching the Quick Look, and seeing Aigis unwinding with a gatling cannon attack in the fighting mode. I saw that, and said, "A cute robot girl with a gatling gun? That's awesome!" I saw a little of the story mode, and didn't see much to make a decision based on that, but I figured that at least the fighting mode would be fun to play with, and if Atlus had written Catherine's story, there must be something similarly interesting in P4A. I hadn't preordered it, but I picked it up on release night, August 7th.

On starting P4A, I had listened to the 8-7-2010 Bombcast, and listened to Jeff's caveats on the length of the visual novel sections in the story mode, as well as this line: "If you're looking for inner monologues from the characters on this fighting game's roster as they go through this new adventure... it's awesome." With that in mind, starting August 8th, I began playing through story mode sections for Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Teddie, Aigis, and so on. As I was playing through the storylines, I thought to myself, "What characters does my personality most resemble?" At that point, it seemed to be a mix of primarily Yosuke's self-doubt (as well as the "Captain Ressentiment" complex), Chie's impulsiveness, and Yukiko's shyness. My first reaction to Labrys was literally, "Ugh, New York accent?!", since her first lines as Miss President were always something bossy. But then, as the storyline for the Investigation Team members goes on, there are signs of a troubled past being held back...

On August 12th, I had unlocked Labrys' storyline, and I remember Jeff saying that Labrys' story was over an hour before the first fight. Therefore, I had set aside all of the night of August 13th to play through Labrys' story, basically cordoning off a 3 hour uninterrupted time block, so I could play it start to end. As with the other story modes, in Labrys' story mode, you can read her inner thoughts, as well as her dialogue, and compare them to each other. Her story takes some time to set up, but once it was set up (chapter 5), I was floored. It was as though Labrys had a similar thought process to mine, but she was also struggling with emotions, and not being able to describe them or comprehend them, and then she had to go through a traumatic experience. As I watched through the story mode, I thought to myself numerous times, "I have the same feelings as you right now!", and yes, I did cry at a few points during the story. At the end of Labrys' storyline, I sat back and had a huge smile on my face. I had the best sleep I'd had in years. I played through Labrys' storyline a few more times that week, to absorb everything, and re-explore the emotional flow, and I kept feeling really good about it.

The main thing for me was that I had been through a months-long spell of depression, as well as suffering from what was later diagnosed as "acute stress disorder" from a specific point in time. But I've also lived with Asperger's Syndrome, which is always hard for me to remember the specific characteristics, but the basic aspects are impairment in social interaction, empathy, and laser-focused interests. I was amazed that I could see a number of these characteristics in Labrys. There are also some parts in Labrys' story that seem to correspond to Alexithymia, the inability to identify and describe one's emotions.

I also really loved Aigis as a character, as she's struglling with her fully synthetic personality to be able to interact with humans, though she's had more experience at it. Aigis' muted emotions seem to be an excellent foil to Labrys' over-driven emotions.

What I'm hoping to do is to explore some of the specific story elements of Labrys' storyline and some of the other parts of the "mainline" story (as it's divided among the other characters, which varies Labrys' dialogue quite a bit). I am not a psychological health professional, but I am someone who has been diagnosed with the psychological conditions listed above. I'm not going to lie: seeing the P4A Labrys storyline did a lot to help me get out of the deep state of depression I was in. It also helped me understand my mind a bit better, by giving myself a bit of an "analog" to look at, and think about in context of my own life experiences.

I want to cover some of the story specifics, but I'll have to spoiler out the story details; let me know if it's okay to chain on replies, or if I should link to blog posts or something. This is a bit of a long first post, but like I said, I promised Brad that I'd start a topic on the psychology of the Labrys story.

#2 Posted by CommodoreGroovy (561 posts) -

Yeah, Labrys's story was surprisingly great. Like you said, I came into it thinking, "This character is a bit odd." Yet, her story really impressed me, and reminded me how good the writing is in the Persona games. After playing both P3 and P4 back in 2008 -- almost four years ago :0 -- I had forgotten how well Atlus could take a story, that initially you're having doubts about, and then totally make you fall in love with it.

I also enjoyed having a perspective, such as yours, talk about the story, so you should definitely continue here.

#3 Edited by arbnpx (7 posts) -

Thanks. It really is interesting to have watched through a short video game story, and to say out loud, "I've been there; I've thought the same things as you!" Usually, in the past, that's only been for 10 minutes or so, but for a good part of 2 hours? The third time I watched through Labrys' story, to really absorb all of the lines and their context, after I finished the story mode, I got in my car, went for a drive, put on a specific song ("Kiwamu - Birth" from Otographic Music), and was literally crying, and laughing, almost wanting to howl maniacally with laughter, as though I had found "the answer". (...which, I'm guessing, is part of the meaning behind "The Answer" in Persona 3, though I haven't played any Persona games prior to P4A).

It's getting late over here, but I want to start with a quick story on how I mentally extended the experience of the story. Spoilers to follow (Labrys story, Chapter 6)...

As Labrys approaches the shoreline, she sees a dark blue stretching out below the sky, with white lines across it. She asks out loud, "Is that... the ocean?" Snowy barks, as if to say, "Yes, that's right." After getting a GPS lock, and discovering where she is, she eventually keeps running toward the shore, only to stop near a pier. She then says, frozen in amazement, "So this... is the ocean. Hah!... It's so huge! I can't see anything out there at all."

At the start of that section, I thought to myself of my experiences of seeing the ocean for the first time. The dark blue surface of water, stretching out for miles, with waves churning. Constant motion, constant sound, as far as the eye can see. It's a wondrous experience for someone who has only seen the land, and inland ponds, prior to this experience. I thought back to the feelings I had during this experience, and mapped them to what Labrys could have been feeling, keeping in mind that this is the first time she had seen any body of water at all.

I think that those kinds of experiences are what Atlus' writers must have been using as emotional devices, to enhance the experience, to make the player live through that kind of story. It obviously worked for me.

One other moment I think of, in that same section, where I listened to both the English and Japanese tracks (also Labrys story, Chapter 6)...

Labrys (thoughts): "As I gaze at the clear water while it ebbs and flows, a mysterious feeling rises in me."

Labrys (smiling): "Wow... look at that. It's beautiful..."

Labrys (same line as above, but in Japanese): "Aaaa... kirei...." (she's really relaxed and happy when she says this)

I didn't find that many emotional connections in the Japanese voice tracks, since it's culturally disconnected, since I don't know Japanese, but in that one specific line, WOW, a lot of emotion conveyed.

I'll try and cover some of the specific psychological elements tomorrow night, focusing on the main turning point in the story (chapter 5).

#4 Posted by arbnpx (7 posts) -

Unfortunately, I don't have that much time tonight to cover a lot, so I should get straight to what is the heart of Labrys' story: the traumatic event. Spoilers to follow (Labrys story, Chapter 5)...

The day after the researchers announce that the test battles have finished, Unit #031 is called into the test chamber...

#031 (thoughts): "From what I am told, it is for a different purpose than the combat tests."

At this point, the researchers announce that the designation of #031 is discontinued, in favor of the full name, "5th Generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon Labrys". Labrys, as she is now known, is very happy to have acquired a name. (The second time she says, "Labrys...", she sounds very satisfied. Cindy Robinson's voice acting performance in this is outstanding; the gentle intonation of joy makes me want to give Labrys a big hug.)

After this change in designation, the researchers announce the real reason for Labrys being in the test chamber today: a new series of battles, geard not for combat performance, but to draw out a Persona.

Untidy researcher: "First, you will fight all the remaining units of your model type. Your objective is to destroy them, every last one."

Labrys: [shocked] "Huh?"

Female researcher: "The fear impulse and self-preservation instinct seem to be the key to activating a Persona. This is the most effective method of inducing extreme mental stress."

Labrys: [scared] "Stress...!? C'mon, you don't have to go this far!"

At this point, I'm noticing that Labrys' speech is almost completely "human", with perfect pacing, and tons of emotion. She feels deceived, that instead of having saved the rest of her "sisters", she now is being forced to destroy them all. And the scientific goal of the researchers is to induce as much stress as possible. Labrys can't believe that she's being forced into this situation, whereas the scientists are astounded and intrigued that Labrys is protesting in this fashion, seeing it as excellent progress of ego development.

Labrys: [horrified] "You told me it was over... I thought I wouldn't have to do these things anymore... Ain't there some other way!? If there is, please, let me do that instead! I... I don't wanna fight 'em anymore!"

The researchers don't acknowledge her protests; instead they're concentrating on her ego development. Here, Labrys realizes that the researchers are not going to help her.

Labrys (thoughts): "Until now, I thought that they were understanding people who treated us as close to human. I was wrong. I am only an object to them. No matter what I say, they will see it only as a response to stimulus."

The researchers don't listen to the content of Labrys' pleas. They leave the test chamber, and the opposite door opens to reveal the first opponent... Unit #024. I had a feeling that #024 would appear here, but my emotional response to it was as charged as Labrys' response.

Labrys: [terrified voice, quickly and sharply] "No..."

(Unit #024 steps forward, and the hatch closes behind her.)

Labrys: "No... why...?"

Labrys (thoughts): "Even I do not know who the question is addressed to."

At this point, Labrys has a crushing feeling of helplessness. Most people in stressful situations have at least some support fallback: friends, family...

Labrys: [shouting] "C'mon! Stop this! I don't wanna fight anymore!"

...but now, Labrys has literally nobody to support her. Not the researchers, who are locked behind the bulletproof glass door. And now, Unit #024 is no longer a friend, but an enemy, who Labrys must destroy, or risk being destroyed.

Labrys fights #024. As before, Labrys targets weapons and limbs, and is able to disable #024's combat abilities. Labrys turns to the researchers and begs them to spare #024.

Labrys: "Isn't this enough? She had that 'ego' thing WAY before me. Destroyin' her won't do anyone any good. C'mon! Have a heart!"

But this is exactly what the researchers are looking for. They override #024's autonomous control systems, and take direct control. The most effective method of inducing extreme mental stress. Labrys has no choice but to end #024's consciousness.

I have to admit, after seeing Labrys shed a tear in the cinematic, the "end of battle sequence" double klaxon literally hurt, like a pain in my chest. In the prior battles, the klaxon sounded when all targets were disabled, but now, it only sounds when #024 is hopelessly unable to continue operating. The last words of #024 are what really get to me: with a smile, she says her last words: "I'm sorry to leave you alone; I leave the rest to you." Even typing this now, I have tears welling in my eyes. Labrys feels completely helpless at this point. The researchers only consider Labrys a test subject, with no regard to the content of her emotions. #024, her best friend and guide through most of her non-combat life, is now dead, by her own hands. As the text of Labrys' thoughts process through all of this, the screen gradually dims, giving an analog to Labrys' darkening into hopelessness.

Labrys (thoughts): "All at once, everything hits me in a torrent of emotion and data.

(screen darkens one step)

Labrys (thoughts): "I've lost her. I did it. I took everything she had.

(screen darkens one step)

Labrys (thoughts): "My vision begins to fade. My thoughts go with it.

(screen darkens to almost black)

Labrys (thoughts): "I cannot determine whether the lights are actually dimming or if that is only my perception. It is too much to handle.

(screen darkens to black)

Labrys (thoughts): "I collapse to the ground helplessly, like a crumbling statue.

This moment is the psychological trauma that Labrys experiences. This traumatic event, of defeating #024 and watching her die with a smile on her face, is a moment of "extreme fear, helplessness or horror". When the human brain stores this kind of event, it stores it in a special place, without context of what time it happened, so that it can sometimes get re-experienced with the proper sensory input. However, at this point, at the current time, Labrys is in a state of mental shock, in what is known as an "acute stress reaction". Labrys literally blacks out from the level of stress, but when I experienced an acute stress reaction, I felt like I was literally walking around in a complete daze, Thousand Yard Stare, with no hope of the situation improving. When I saw the TVTropes entry for "Heroic BSOD", I said, "Yeah, That! That's what happened to me!"

Sorry about the wall of spoilered text. I do have to say, though, Cindy Robinson's voice acting performance MADE this character for me. Beyond just the text, and which anime portrait is used, the inflection of the voice is what channels the true emotion of Labrys. And after going through Labrys' story mode, I love the Bronx accent, especially in words like "ovah" or "anymoah".

#5 Posted by CommodoreGroovy (561 posts) -

@arbnpx: I think it helps me connect with her type of character, but I've also experienced something very traumatic at one point my life -- similar to that BSOD moment as you said. It was like, all at once, a rush of terrible emotions flooded my mind: doubt, anger, pain, despair, horror, helplessness. Yet, despite this rush of activity, I didn't know how to react at all. Should I cry, should I scream, should I run away, or should I just continue to just stand there? It was like all those negative emotions had combined into something that robbed me of any sense of my direction or place. It's been years since this event happened to me, but even talking about it now makes me feel uncomfortable.

And yeah, without spoiling much, the "Answer" in Persona 3 is indeed about the main characters finding their own "answer". If you liked the story in P4A this much, you should definitely check out P3 and P4.

#6 Posted by Irvandus (2881 posts) -

She's a great character but her accent hit me as too gimmicky after a while.

#7 Posted by Mystyr_E (1195 posts) -

@Irvandus said:

She's a great character but her accent hit me as too gimmicky after a while.

Hell nah man, that accent rocks. Hell, I'd love to see her in Persona 5

#8 Posted by Irvandus (2881 posts) -

@Mystyr_E: I like the accent it just seemed like they used the accent to get people interested in the character instead of just letting her stand on her own merits. That being said I would love to see her return as well.

#9 Posted by arbnpx (7 posts) -

I have to admit that when I first saw "Miss President", I was disgusted at the Bronx accent, mostly because it was delivered in an angry and bossy manner, as it was coming from a student council president. But when Labrys started recalling her past, that harsh delivery softened up, and I started to grow fond of the accent.

After the "traumatic event" in Labrys' story, there's a part that I sort of describe as the "redemption".

First, I want to commend Atlus' writers, as they seem to be really versed in psychology. The Persona series is based on Jungian psychology, which has some interesting concepts in it, including "the persona" and "the shadow". A quick look at Wikipedia shows the "persona" described as "a social face an individual presents to the world"; more interestingly, the shadow is described as "an unconscious complex defined as the repressed, suppressed or disowned qualities of the conscious self." Yeah, in the Persona 4 universe, that's exactly what a Shadow is.

So the writers at Atlus not only have an interesting architecture on which to build their story, but they seem to know how to write for psychological and/or social scenarios that the player could have experienced, but more importantly, they seem to know how to write toward a therapeutic catharsis. I'm going to continue from the point where I left off in the previous post (Labrys Story, Chapter 5, moving from the battle chamber back to the test chamber)...

After Labrys collapses in the battle chamber from the trauma of #024's death, the researchers transport Labrys back to the Test Chamber, still unconscious. Labrys wakes up inside the test cage; the researchers are apparently worried about potential dangers after inducing extreme mental stress. The feedback data download begins, as Labrys assimilates the contents of #024's Plume of Dusk. Labrys is amazed; the quality of the memories is almost indistinguishable from experiencing the moments firsthand. Furthermore, alongside these memories are recordings of #024's emotional state as these events were experienced.

At this point, Labrys experiences memories of the outdoor area where she and #024 spent time, the trees surrouding them, the night sky, the unidentified sound of water off in the distance, and Snowy playing around. But then, Labrys finds an unidentified voice. A female voice, younger than that of the female researcher.

(begin song playback: Persona 3: "Living With Determination")

Girls voice: "I know the world is a big place. And I know that there's a lotta people in it. But I won't be able to see it for myself, or meet many of 'em... I know that too. I'm too weak for that...."

Labrys (thoughts): "Her speech is different from the researchers or from those of my unit type. It is... very similar to my own speech output."

This girl, at the recommendation of her parents, knowing that she was too weak for a normal life, wanted to contribute toward an experiement.

Girl's voice: "And yeah, my big wish is to make myself useful to this world. But the ones born from me... is 'born' the right word for it? Haha.. kind of embarrasin'... my other wish is that the ones born from me are happy. I doubt I'll be able to talk to 'em in person, or stay with 'em... But I still wish from the bottom o my heart, that they all have happy lives."

Labrys, pleased with how warm and kind this unknown voice is, wishes to hear more, but this is the end of the recording. The feedback data download from #024 has concluded. But then Labrys remembers the archive file that #024 gave to her to open "If you are still safe when everything is over." Labrys opens this archive file.

#024: (archive) "If you are reading this, then I have most likely been destroyed. It may be that you already understand the concept of 'guilt', but you have done nothing wrong."

What th... wow. This is really emotionally jarring. At this point, Labrys agrees; she now knows that #024 knew of her potential demise at the hands of Labrys.

Labrys (thoughts): "What emotions was she feeling then? What was going through her mind as she prepared this file...? I feel something wrench inside my chest."

#024, through the feedback treatments, discovered that the successful generation of a fully artificial personality was very difficult, so the 5th generation Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapons were based on a specific girl's personality. This girl left a voice recording for each of the units, and #024 noticed that Labrys had the same accent...

#024: "She speaks in a strange way, like you. I thought, 'Ah, we really are connected to her.' The one who gave birth to us loved us... When I understood that, I felt like my eyes were opened. Though my life was filled with suffering, my birth had meaning... I firmly believe that. I want to meet her. I need to tell her 'thank you' for giving birth to us and for loving us. This was not an order from the scientists. It was an objective I made for myself. So if you can understand my feelings, I'd like you to do this in my stead. Give our mother my thanks."

Labrys: (thoughts) "...During the time when she was ordered to destroy her sisters, this wish must have been her only hope... I shattered it. The one she herself said was the only one who understood her. She must have been devastated... But the letter ends in the way I least expected."

#024: (archive) "Though we knew each other only for a short time, I'm glad I met you. I feel the same right now as our mother did. I wish from the depths of my heart for you to be happy."

That last line, "I wish from the depths of my heart for you to be happy."... I was literally crying and sobbing. Even now, playing through it again, after having played through the whole Labrys storyline probably over 30 times, still gets me. I've heard people say to me before, "I just want you to be happy", but it always seemed to ring hollow. But after playing to this part of the Labrys story, after seeing the full cycle of traumatic experiences that echoed the range and mental severity of what I experienced, I feel a huge swell of gratitude. If I could, I want to give #024 a big hug. Whoever the voice actress for #024 is (it's uncredited), the intonation of that line is PERFECT. It preserves the quasi-mechanical stop-and-go timing that conveys the limitation of #024's normal sized Plume of Dusk, but has a heartstring-tugging cuteness to it. As someone else online put it, "I couldn't be the only one just waiting for Unit #024 to break out into Disney-esque song while bluebirds perched on her finger and lights from the heavens shone upon her..."

A few days after playing through this the first couple of times (the subsequent times were to try and record the thoughts that I had at the various parts of the story), I asked my mother if she wanted to see this story that made me so happy. She said yes, so I brought the PS3 over to the house, and played through a short part of the beginning of Aigis' story, then played through the entirety of Labrys' story. At that last line, "I wish from the depths of my heart for you to be happy," I broke down crying, and she saw it. She loved Labrys' story, by the way, even though she wasn't deriving quite as much emotion out of it as I was.

I kept that part above out of spoiler to help those who aren't uncovering spoilers to see the big deal of all this. Continuing on...

Keep in mind that I, the viewer, am LITERALLY crying after hearing the last line of #024's archive.

Labrys (thoughts): "I am shocked. How can she feel that way towards someone who may one day destroy her...?"

Labrys (thoughts): "I realize then that the visual input from my optics is experiencing distortion for some unknown reason. An unfamiliar source of water trickles down my cheek."

Female researcher: "Labrys... is she crying!?"

Researcher with a tie: "So she is... I can't believe we're actually seeing a machine being driven to tears."

Labrys is driven to tears (perhaps, at the same time the viewer is driven to tears; very nicely done, Atlus). The researchers, still focusing on their objectives, are ecstatic. The researchers can only observe graphs of mental states. This must be some way of externally reading the "black box" of the Plume of Dusk, similar to an electroencephalogram (EEG) on a human. The researchers cannot know the content of #024's Plume, and are essentially blind to what Labrys has witnessed.

At this point, the same music that was playing in the outdoor area is playing now. I had labeled it "sentimental music"; I'll have to identify the track later. But the "untidy researcher" speaks up:

Untidy Researcher: "We should take care to limit our studies to just the battle data."

[sentimental music fades quickly to silence]

Untidy Researcher: [cold, cynical tone] "*sigh* It doesn't need any sentimental memories, you can delete those. Why make a weapon so emotional that it can cry?"

WAIT... I had been in such a state of euphoria after hearing the girl who was the source of the personality, and #024's last message, but after hearing what the untidy researcher said, I was stunned. At this point, I paused at this line, and thought to myself, "Okay, if I was in Labrys' place, what would I do, think, or say in this specific situation...?

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"

...pure rage. I want to scream out as loud as I can, and destroy everyone and everything who would dare take those memories away from me. I even have a scowl on my face; I'm angry. I feel a primal urge to defend myself.

After thinking about that, I press X to advance to the next screen.

(begin song playback: Persona 3: "Heartful Cry")

Labrys (thoughts): "Delete them? Something roars within me. It drowns out the feelings for #024 and our mother that had filled my heart.

Labrys: "Delete?! LIKE HELL you're deletin' my memories!!"

At this point, I'm shocked, in a positive way. I'm crying and smiling at the same time. I think to myself, "Labrys is thinking the exact same thing as I am right now! YESSS!!" She has had enough of the researchers not paying attention to her emotions and her needs. As they said, extreme mental stress is necessary to draw out a Persona, but why does it have to go this far?!

Labrys: (thoughts) "Under no circumstances will I allow what #024 left me to be deleted for their convenience. I will not forgive this selfishness."

Labrys: (thoughts) "We have been treated callously by the researchers in this laboratory. They gave us hearts, yet made us destroy those of our unit type as enemies. We killed our sisters at their command. If we refused, our desires were overriden and we became their puppets. The wishes of the girl who desired our happiness were not taken into consideration..."

Labrys is absolutely furious that everything she, #024, and all of the other 5th-generation units have lived for is about to be destroyed at the press of a button, in the name of science.

Labrys: (thoughts) "The goal that #024 found for herself was left to me. I will carry it out as my own now. I will burn it into my heart as my goal. It is a duty I impose on myself gladly. Nothing will make me surrender it. It must be fought for. Or rather... it must be protected, even if it means fighting."

At this point, Labrys manually locks herself into battle mode, and retunes her IFF (identification, friend-or-foe) system to designate the researchers as valid targets. This hits a soft spot for me, because I've been in situations where people who were previously on my side were suddenly acting egregiously against me, and it felt like a switch in my mind flipping them and other people "into the red". Seeing Labrys go through this wakes me up to those events, makes me feel that I'm not alone in having had those kinds of experiences.

The scientists trigger a lockdown, and metal restraints bind down Labrys' limbs. One of the researchers says, "Hey, hurry up and delete those memories."

Labrys: (thoughts) "These memories and my heart are not unnecessary!"

Labrys: [shouting furiously] "WHADDAYA THINK WE ARE?!"

Labrys: (thoughts) "Something I have not felt until now -- a sensation like heat spreads throughout my body. A trembling, burning wave rises within me. Soon afterwards, I realize that this is an emotion. There is a name for this feeling. It is anger."

That specific line, "WHADDAYA THINK WE ARE?!"... there was a time when I said something similar to that, in this kind of situation, where I was blatantly misunderstood, backed into a corner, and was furious. When I saw Labrys saying this line, I felt a rush of happiness, of familiarity with this character.

Labrys continues to strain against the restraints, purely out of emotion. Her arms, and the restraints, start to creak.

Untidy Researcher: "H-How is it doing that!? There's no way those things are strong enough to break the restraints..."

Female Researcher: "It's outputting over 220% of its theoretical strength limit, even though its joint actuators are operating at only 70% capacity!"

Untidy Researcher: "T-That's not possible... that doesn't even make any sense! What's driving this thing!?"

Labrys: "I'm not... gonna let you take... those memories! I MADE HER A PROMISE!"

(the restraints shatter with a loud metallic sound)

From here, Labrys escapes the facility... and this leads to the events in Chapter 6 that I posted earlier. One last spoiler section, about what Labrys says at the end of that specific section...

Labrys: "I just pray from the bottom of my heart that everyone can find happiness. As long as that happens, I don't mind if I..."

Labrys: (thoughts) "'Even though my wish may not come true, I'm still satisfied if I can entrust it to someone I believe in...' #024 said something along those lines.

Labrys: "...Could this be it? Hey, Snowy. You think... this is what it means to feel alive?"

It was amazing to see Labrys saying that, at this point, and with a smile. She's so cute when she smiles, and during the vast majority of the previous parts of the Labrys storyline, you don't see her smile, so this is a very special moment. On seeing that moment, I feel far more "alive".

What I want to cover after this are what I interpret as the psychological aspects of Labrys as a character, judging on her dialogue and thoughts, and why I seem to connect so well with this character. These will correspond to elements of Asperger's Syndrome and PTSD I'll hopefully start composing that in a few days. I want to thank everyone for encouraging me through this; it's an interesting character study, but it's helping me to remind myself why my mind works the way it does.

#10 Posted by TehChich (165 posts) -

I'm rather surprised that we both thought the same about Labrys' story, and had similar emotional reactions to it. You've definitely analyzed it more thoroughly than I have, though. I will say, though, and it's something I touched on in my post but didn't get a chance to delve into, I can relate to Aigis as well in her sometimes wishing she could go back to just being a machine. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the time I call my "autistic bubble", where I wasn't very aware and was therefore generally happy with simpler things. And then my thoughts trailed off.....if they come back I'll continue....

#11 Posted by arbnpx (7 posts) -

Ah, yeah, I remember that quote in Aigis' story, from "Shadow Aigis": "'Ah... it hurts so much, that I wish I could go back to how I was before I gained a heart!' Has that really never once crossed your mind? I think not." (By the way, I loved that part, as it sounded a bit like "Sexy Aigis", in terms of the delivery; Karen Strassman's voice acting is amazing.)

There are some times where my emotional personality does clash a bit, and I feel like I have to snap all the way to "emotionless android", and stick to pure logic when trying to work through a dispute and reach a concensus. Aigis' personality is a favorite of mine, from how she's still a bit grounded in most of her logic, and not quite so emotionally driven. When I first saw Aigis for a bit, I thought, "Wow, she's a lot like me in terms of being logical and socially awkward, but I wish I could be that emotionally grounded." Versus what I thought after Labrys' story, which was basically, "THAT IS ME. That is my logic, my fears, my emotional flow, and I've been through bad times like that!"

For the psychological elements of Labrys, I can split it into two parts: how she behaves in general as a part of her natural mood during the storyline, and as a part of what she experienced in her past. I'll try to avoid spoilers entirely for this part; let's just say that I'm a little ashamed that most of my previous post have been spoilered out.

In terms of Labrys struggling with emotions, it sounds very close to the experiences of alexithymia. For myself, sometimes I have a hard time tracking what emotions I have, in terms of how they fluctuate during the day due to things like upcoming challenges, news, the mood of specific songs, and so on. When I'm alone, it makes it difficult sometimes to remain grounded and aware of those emotions. I have to remember to keep concentrating on positive things, improving things, and not get dragged down in some of the negative details.

As a parallel to that, Labrys is dealing with emotions for the first time, reacting in a confused way, because these emotions are unfamiliar. There's a point in Labrys' story where she's waiting in the outside area for #024, but can't find her. After going through what this must mean, this leads to a panic attack. After #024 finds her, Labrys (or at that point, #031) has a hard time describing her emotions. An interesting parallel to the "emotionally dragged down" tendency is when "Miss President" says to Teddie, "You're a real glass-half-full guy. Where do you get all that confidence?" I smiled at that line, because I have a finite reservoir of confidence, and need to be fueled by someone or something, either a good leader, or a tangible, achievable set of goals.

As far as what Labrys experienced in the past, those elements play in certain sections of the main character storylines, when "Miss President" reacts to some reminder of her hidden past.

Teddie: "He was calling you, 'Lovely', or something. Is that your real name?"

Miss President: "Lab... ry... GEEEEAAAAHHH!!" (faints)

That moment is what's known as a "re-experiencing", in the context of PTSD. It's essentially a flashback of all the emotions, all the negative thoughts, that were experienced during the traumatic event. When the initial traumatic event is experienced, it is stored in the brain in a way that divorces it from the context of time. This makes it susceptible to being recalled at the ocurrence of specific stimuli. When it does get recalled, sometimes it's an overwhelming flood of negative emotions, and all of the feelings of despair and helplessness experienced at the moment of trauma. I've experienced this firsthand, and it's a crushing experience, especially when there's nobody around who takes your current state seriously. At that moment, you truly are alone. That's how alone Labrys must have felt at times. That's why her story rings so true to me.

#12 Edited by arbnpx (7 posts) -

Okay, after the site redesign, I have to re-spoiler-block all of the posts above. I'm not sure if trying to do that would trigger a "flood protect", so I may have to do it one at a time, but at least the title of the topic has a huge spoiler warning.

#13 Posted by Herk (198 posts) -

I just finished Mitsuru's story and there's something I'm not sure about. They explained something like Labrys' abilities were put in there to because her mind was contradictory? Is it like if she would ever start to doubt her false memories it would somehow fool herself to believe in them again?

Maybe the next storylines will talk more about this

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