Shadowed Flames: PTSD in RWBY Part 6

Disclaimer: These articles contain in-depth discussion on the topics of mental health/illness and topics such as abuse. 

The writer is also not a trained nor certified therapist. However, they have been writing for twenty years with a heavy focus on correct, realistic portrayals of mental health. They have studied PTSD and C-PTSD in depth and speak from personal experience. Of course, they only speak from one point of view as PTSD symptoms and experiences are unique to each and every person. This is done from a clinical viewpoint, using sourced academic literature.

More technical jargon (namely the actual list of symptoms) will be given in more everyday language when and where possible.

I’d just like to tack on a preliminary “I’m sorry” if I missed any scenes of Yang opening up. I haven’t had the time to rewatch all seven volumes from the beginning recently. I also remember V1-5 better than 6 and 7 since I haven’t watched them as many times.

That said, let’s roll into our last criteria for Set D.

6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others 

This is probably the hardest one to make an argument for as it’s not plainly obvious and, admittedly, a fair bit more interpretation than the others. But I think it’s a potentially valid one.

Honestly, this entire topic with Yang is rather interesting. For as friendly and open as she is, she’s never really one to open up to others. One of the only times we see her do this willingly is V2 C6 “Burning the Candle.” This is when we see Blake driving herself into the ground due to trying to put a stop to the White Fang after the ending of V1 at the docks.

She tells Blake the story of how she almost got her and Ruby killed due to looking for Raven. 

[Image description: Blake and Yang are in an empty classroom. Blake standing off to the left of the frame. Yang to the right sitting on a desk with her legs crossed. Both are in their V2 outfits.]

Even then, this entire session is really just to try to get Blake to slow down, take care of herself, and have some fun. It’s not really about how it effects her now and how she’s still looking for Raven. It’s just a lesson and message for Blake. 

Two of the most major occurrences I can recall had to have people push her to talk and those are:

V5 C8 “Alone Together” where she talks to Weiss about how she feels about Blake— 

[Image source]
[Image description: Weiss on the left sitting next to Yang, Yang crying into her hands, both in their V4 to 6 outfits.]

—and V4 C4 “Family.”

[Image description: Taiyang’s kitchen. Port and Oobleck sit at the table in the foreground with Port close on the left, Oobleck a little further in on the right. Taiyang is toward the center leaning against the counter. Yang in the center in her V4 attire. Subtitle says “Yang: I’m…scared.”]

This may come across as meandering, but it has a point. This does establish a pattern in Yang’s behavior in general which might seem to weaken the point. She’s someone that doesn’t like to talk and burden others with her problems. 

But the point is that I think what happened to her only strengthened this pattern of behavior. She lost one of the people she was closest to after Blake bolted. She literally lost an arm for her.

Only for Blake to leave and, for all Yang knew, with no intention to ever return.

The fact of the matter is she doesn’t even talk about these things with her father.

She seems extremely close with Taiyang if “Family” is anything to go off of. The way they joke around and laugh… It seems like Tai’s done everything he can to create an environment where he can communicate with his girls. 

I mean, there’s this joke that she responds to positively.

[Image description: Taiyang pointing at his head in the kitchen. He’s the only one in frame, but he’s still speaking to Yang. Subtitle says “[seems you lost] some brain cells along with that arm.”]

Taiyang seemed to know just what Yang needed to hear.

And, yet, she doesn’t actually talk without prodding from Port.

Looking at “Alone Together” is also interesting. If we step back to look at the scene that led up to her and Weiss, we see her continuing anger toward Blake. When pushed too hard, she gets angry, but then she gets up and walks away. (We’ll get more into this particular scene in the next criteria set…)

[Image description: Weiss on the left of the frame, Ruby in the center. Both are sitting down, holding cups of coffee. Yang on the right, storming off into the house, back to the screen]

She gets up to go deal with it on her own. She possibly is just removing herself so that way she doesn’t continue to get angry, but following that… 

[Image description: Yang sitting alone in a room with her head bowed. Subtitle says, “Look Ruby, I don’t really want to talk about it, okay?”]

…the way she talks makes it clear she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about it, but Ruby least of all. 

But she does start talking once she realises it’s Weiss. 

She loves her family, but she feels like she can’t talk openly to them. A lot of that is likely tied into exactly what she says about having to pick up the pieces and having to hold everything together. But even so, she’s closed off so much to them she just can’t talk to them. Not even her father who clearly knows her so well. She’s extremely estranged from them in an emotional sense, likely just further exacerbated by losing Blake. 

This is best exemplified in the V5 finale “Haven’s Fate.”

[Image source]
[Image description: Image shows the inside of the Haven vault, a huge desert. Yang is small in the frame, slightly off center to the right. She’s holding the lamp and on her knees, sobbing.]

She just breaks down sobbing after confronting Raven. She’s alone and so she finally feels like she can let everything out. She just bottles everything up, only letting it out in moments like “Alone Together.” Even then, she generally needs prodding.

Underneath everything, Yang is someone that’s hurting alone, suffering in silence, just like so many other mentally ill people. 

This one was a bit shorter, but I didn’t want to start getting into Set E at the tail end of this. So see you next time when we start there!

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