Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

 Multiple Developers


Psychology Discussed:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Defence Mechanisms
  • Developer’s Views


Our much beloved archaeologist and titular raider of tombs has been on quite the journey. Her childhood was marred by significant trauma. This includes the witnessed death of loved ones. Whilst the graphic novel accompaniments tackle this issue head on, with references to blatant symptoms of PTSD, the art designer (Horton) decided to rebut this claim and state that in the latest trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara was instead just “impatient”. This may represent ignorance to the narrative content, or an unfortunate statement made due to a lack of understanding of mental health issues. Perhaps Lara herself doesn’t realise she has post-traumatic stress – it is common to lack insight or even be in denial that one is suffering, particularly when they view mental health issues as a “weakness” and their primary coping mechanism is to be what they consider “strong”.


Despite what has been said – perhaps correct reflections of the development teams’ intentions or perhaps not – I hope that we can continue to make our own interpretations about what Lara is going through.


Croft began as an academic, but was thrust into a dangerous and threatening world. She had to adapt in order to survive. It is easy to see how she would rationalise her coping mechanism. In the trailer, we see cardinal symptoms of classic post-traumatic stress: irritability, restlessness, hypervigilance. The therapist describes her recent behaviour as isolative and states that she has been suffering from flashbacks. As a clinician it is difficult to ignore these signs. However, it is open to interpretation whether she has developed a “disorder”. Many sufferers of post-traumatic stress are not disabled by it. Lara has the strength to continue, showing her audience how experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily lead to weakness or failure. She seeks help – an admirable pursuit – and she continues her journey a stronger woman. That’s the message I’d like people to take.