Despair is a paralyzer, an eliminator of the good possibilities in order to make one waste away. In despair, there is no possibility of hope. The trauma of COVID has caused a severe decline in mental health all around the world due to isolation, fear, and death being one breath away. Despair in Trauma Team is instructive due to the paralysis it brings and how hope transforms those suffering in, to become their old selves again. All the protagonists, CR-S01, Hank Freeman, Tomoe Tachibana, Naomi Kimishima, Gabe Cunningham, and Maria Torres all face their moment of despair and come out by hope just as they were or in some cases better than the despair.
In his lecture series “Existentialism is a humanism,” Sartre tries to defend existentialism from accusations of being pessimistic, among other things. In his lecture, he describes how one can act without hope by accepting that any work you do to make a better society, according to your beliefs, may not last your lifetime. The people that you may hope to continue your work may go to the other side. How can it be when people have free will? What point is there in thinking for the future or your fellow humans when you can’t trust those people in the future? How far can one go for the cause?
A doctor’s duty is to save all that they can save, according to the game. Hank Freeman has his moment when he tries to believe in humanity after a friend is shot by a criminal at the mall who has succumbed to despair because another hospital told him that a tumor in his spine is inoperable. The criminal jumps off the railing. The crowd there wants Hank to leave the criminal to his fate. The cruelty of his fellow humans forces him to cry, “Do villains deserve to die? If you take someone’s life, is it right to have it taken? Please, let me believe in humanity.” He then operates on the man, excising the inoperable tumors because not operating on someone one knows they can save, instead of taking the risk that they may not be saved or that the hospital could get sued, is how the man lost hope in the first place. Gabe lost his hope and decided his work was pointless after he couldn’t directly save his son.
To lose one’s hope in yourself is how CR-S01 reacts by being ostracized after it being revealed to the others that he was accused of killing many people in a bioterrorist attack. CR-S01 is an amnesiac and cannot remember if he did or not. To essentially plead ignorance, as CR-S01 did, is to deny one’s past actions, effects, and traumas. He then learns via his FBI agent guard that his wife was at the attack and tried to save her student’s lives. The past is gone, it can never be undone. But it can be forgiven if one refuses to run from their actions and responsibilities.
To run from responsibility. Tomoe decides when to choose between her responsibilities to her family to prepare for her succession to the head of the Tachibana clan, and her friends who make her happy. She initially chooses friends but she loses her clan ideas of the path of honor the longer she spends with her friends. After nearly being killed by the bus crash while trying to locate survivors, Tomoe decides to return to her family eventually and work toward following the values she was raised with.
There is a limit to how much one person can do. Maria believes that she can best accomplish this by being a prideful determined lone wolf. Maria wants to be a hero after saving a girl named Rosalia in her orphanage. To Maria, being a hero is to be perfect. Save every life you can, despite the physical, mental, or emotional toll you place on yourself. Otherwise, if you accept help you risk looking like a fool. It takes a ship running aground with her using improvised tools and a bus crash for Maria with her being forced to deal with it alone without other paramedics to transport to hospital, that to ask for help is not a sign of weakness, that being a hero is not saving everyone on your own but leading a team to save as many as one can.
Naomi, a forensic scientist who can hear the dead’s last words, has her moment by bombing, after a girl named Alyssa runs off with a bomb disguised as a teddy bear addressed to Naomi. Before the incident, Naomi described herself as an eventual corpse for due to a disease suffered in a previous game. She only had 6 months to a year left. This flood of passion and guilt consumed her while she heard her cellphone ringing, a clear sign that Alyssa would die. However, CR said that he would save her and he did. The guilt from the explosion and how powerlessness Naomi felt transforms her into both a mother and a human to try to apprehend the bomber who nearly killed a little girl.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and others, as citizens of our countries and to the world, providers to our families, the teachers of a generation, saviors of lives in more ways than the medical, that one cannot shirk. To shirk them is to deny us the possibility of a better tomorrow by our hand, the hope of the future to keep it going, and to give in to despair and become a walking corpse.