‘Trauma Therapy: Psychosis’ (2023) Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Was Vance Trying To Do?

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis appears to be a twisted movie, the concept of which can be compared to red rooms on the dark web. Written by David Josh Lawrence and Tom Malloy, the movie revolves around a twisted series of events and a sadistic form of gaming. Trauma Therapy: Psychosis, a sequel to Trauma Therapy (2019), is replete with disturbing images that revolve around a self-help group created by Tobin Vance. The cult Vance sets up here uses extremely harsh methods to play sick games with the participants. Even though the games seem familiar at first, they take horrid turns later, making the participants either embrace death or compelling them to become a permanent part of the cult. Some similarly sick movies and series that are sure to give audiences a high adrenaline rush are Escape Room, Saw, and Squid Game, among others. How sick the series of events turns and the lengths that the sadistic games go to are yet to be explored by us.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens in the Film?

The seemingly inviting self-help academy becomes a nightmare for the participants as they progress through the sick games. The organization set up by Tobin Vance in the US had been banned for all kinds of illegal activities. They had been involved in money laundering, sex rackets, and other similar crimes. The movie begins with a live-streamed interview with one of the survivors of the show. He is being questioned, and we get to see his narrative of the gruesome fate of the participants. Some people are selected based on their past traumas and are asked to participate in a five-day retreat into the woods as a part of self-healing. The deal said that if they were to back out halfway, then they were to pay a huge amount of money. Little do they know about the atrocities that are to be inflicted on them at the retreat. The details of the participants’ pasts had been collected by them, and those insecurities were constantly gnawed upon through the games.


How Did Vance Torture The Participants?

The first night of the sadistic games started with the participants gathering in front of a bonfire. We see Vance appearing and saying things to them that would degrade them morally. He asks them all to burn the objects that bonded them with their past traumas. When one of the participants refused, Vance demeaned him to the extent that he committed suicide. The participants were drugged on the first night and were under the impression that they were given vitamins. 

The participants are seen taking part in dangerous activities that are forced on them. They keep a record of Nicole murdering a man in a state of frenzy to blackmail her later. The next day, they were again forced to take some sort of vitamin and embarked on a mission to get bitten by a venomous insect, and they were informed that the pain would last a long time. Everyone was forced to take the insect bite, but Lily refused, and she was punished at night with her hands tied and dozens of the same insect being poured on her. They were being tortured in the name of motivation to overcome their fears.


The games become deadlier with each passing day and the next danger they face is consuming poison. They have been told that the antidote to it is in the blood of a rabbit that is hiding in the vicinity. They all run for their lives and find the rabbit, only to kill it and drink its blood to save their lives. When Nicole attempts to leave the game, she is blackmailed with a video from her past and is forced to stay back.

A new participant, John, comes in, and they are manipulated to believe that he is a part of them, but in actuality, he was working for Vance. John plays mind games with the characters, where they are induced into a simulation of role-playing, and they end up hurting each other. The next day held a greater challenge when they were given rifles and Nicole was provoked to shoot a man. On the last day, the participants are provoked to kill others. Nicole ends up murdering her abusive father. When Frank is asked to commit a murder, he refuses to do it and is shot down eventually by John. Lily is made to chew on Frank’s severed ear, and Jesse is instigated by Vance to shoot himself.


What Is The Final Fate Of The Participants?

During Trauma Therapy: Psychosis’ ending, the participants meet their tragic fate. Two of them are mercilessly killed, and the remaining two, are made a part of the institute. As Lily and Nicole have been able to sustain the gory games and the pressure, Vance deems them fit to join his army. The Vance Institute has been creating an army of sadists who love torturing and murdering people. We see a growing lack of empathy in the participants as they reach the end of the session. The participants have slowly been programmed into becoming monsters so that they can fit right in. Vance was feeding on the weakness of the insecure to breed terrorists and gain a grip in the underworld.

Why Did Vance create the academy?

Vance had the intentions of a manipulative dictator to gain control over the minds of the weak. The academy had been created by him to fulfill his own selfish needs, satisfy his sadistic nature, and torture innocent people, simply for his own pleasure. It is the nature of the feeble to rely on someone for validation, and toxicity fuels insecurities to a great extent. The toxic manipulation of Vance creates greater insecurities in the minds of the already insecure participants. He was constantly telling them how harsh and unforgiving life was to scare them further. He was trying to prove to them that the mental therapy that he was giving them would be a life-changer. This would ensure that they would place all their faith in the program and blindly follow Vance’s instructions. He was a manipulator and a sadist who took away the most precious possessions that they owned. They make the participants believe that something good is going to come out of the challenges they are facing.


They are given mental stimulants instead of medications to further trigger their conditions so that they become more vulnerable. Their fears are constantly being triggered, manipulation is on the rise, and there are trust issues that are being generated to the extent that they burst out. In the end, it is seen that the insecurities of the participants are used as the biggest weapon against them to make them feel inferior. The academy was a manifestation of an evil world created by Vance, and he was the mastermind behind all the sufferings inflicted upon the characters. We can’t help but be overcome with a deep sense of hatred towards Vance, as we are able to see right through his wicked intentions of conquering the world.

What Does The Film Symbolize?

Sadism is a crippling truth of the society that we live in. Every influential person is trying to play the role of a dictatorial leader, creating a cult of their own, and using harsh methods to attain ardent followers. The film is a metaphorical representation of many such activities that are occurring in society, only in a more subtle manner as compared to the horrific events in the movie. The thriller movie instills a great sense of horror within us and the events are quite unpredictable. I was mortified during certain scenes and just could not imagine myself in the situation that the participants were in. Every concept of torture was new, and for people who enjoy gory horror or horror thrillers, Trauma Therapy: Psychosisis a must-watch.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti’s obsession with creativity and travel fervor has helped her branch out into the entertainment genre. Her love for psychological thrillers helps her get a daily dose of adrenaline. A regular caricature of the films and its characters is what keeps her going!

Latest articles