The Candace Newmaker theories propose that Petscop is meant to reflect the incident surrounding Candace Newmaker, a resident of North Carolina who was unintentionally murdered at 10 years old. Many aspects of Candace Newmaker's life, family, and death appear to share many similar attributes to events shown in Petscop.
However, these parallels have been shown to be insufficient to fully explain the series, and the series has appeared to lessen these proposed connections in newer episodes. Alternate theories suggest these as allusions meant to set a tone for earlier episodes. The only consistent parallel is the abuse of Care as a child through attempts at being reborn.
Background of Rebirthing Therapy
Attachment therapy (also called "rebirthing") is an alternative, pseudo-scientific medication for individuals suffering from reactive attachment disorder. The therapy is meant to reconstruct the psychological feeling of the individual being born, essentially recreating the process of birth. In theory, the individual that is "reborn" will then attach to their parents the same way a newborn child attaches to its parents.
A basic component of rebirthing therapy is immobilization or "holding therapy", where the individual is restrained completely while kept in a state of anger and despair. The directed parents are to be maintaining eye contact during the process.
Attachment therapy traces its roots to alternative therapies in the realm of hypnotism, popular in the 1960s by such figures as L. Ron Hubbard and Milton Erickson. The term itself was first created by psychologist Robert Zaslow in 1971, applying it as a way of treating autism. That same year, Zaslow was compelled to relinquish his psychology license after patients were injured during his sessions. Alternative medicine and therapies were very popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both within and without the scientific community.
The Evergreen clinic in Colorado was established by Foster Cline in 1983, originally called the "Youth Behavior Program". It was further popularized in the 1990s after the publication of Holding Time by Martha Welsh in 1988. Despite its existence outside of established psychology, it continued to be positively recommended by legitimate sources as late as 1997 .
Life of Candace Newmaker and aftermath
Originally named Candace Tiara Elmore, Candace was born on November 19, 1989 in Lincolnton, North Carolina, to her parents Angela and Todd Elmore. She and her siblings, Michael and Chelsea, were heavily abused early in life, and her siblings were taken away by social services early on. In 1994, her parents lost custody over her, and she was placed in a foster home. In 1996, she was adopted officially by Jeane Elizabeth Newmaker, working as a pediatric nurse in Durham. At this point she was given a new name, Candace Elizabeth Newmaker. Having gone through these traumatic events so early on in life, Candace was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder in 1996. Over the next few years, Jeane worked with a psychologist and numerous treatments to help her condition, but it had only grown worse.
Their psychologist, William Goble, suggested Candace be taken to Evergreen for attachment therapy. On April 18, 2000, Candace Newmaker died during the 70-minute therapy session at Evergreen. As customary for the holding therapy, Candace was wrapped in a flannel sheet and held down by two therapists, Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder. Candace Newmaker suffocated under these conditions, in spite of her constant protest and plea for help. Paramedics were immediately called in, who were able to restore a pulse to her. However, she was pronounced braindead at the hospital.
Her death made immediate international news, and completely turned public opinion of rebirthing therapy on its head. Jeane Newmaker, as well as the therapist foster parents Brita St. Clair and Jack McDaniel, all plead guilty. Watkins and Ponder, however, were tried and convicted. Jeane Newmaker had her nursing license suspended, until it was reinstated in 2004. St. Clair and McDaniel were sentenced to ten years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Watkins and Ponder were sentenced to 16 years in prison. However, in 2008 Watkins was paroled under intense supervision.
Laws banning the practice of rebirthing therapy have been known as "Candace Newmaker Laws", and Candace is generally one of the most well-known cases of child abuse in the 21st century.
Association with Petscop
The oldest reference to Candace Newmaker as a theory of Petscop is found in a comment on Petscop 5, and quickly became the top rated comment on the video.
On August 20, the YouTube channel Game Theory posted an analysis video on Petscop, titled Game Theory: Petscop - The Scariest Game You'll NEVER Play!. It completely endorsed the Candace Newmaker Theory. Up until that point, no theory video on Petscop had claimed to give a complete explanation, with the exception of Night Mind's video which endorsed the Dr. Seuss theory.
The creators of Petscop have never shown any reaction or comment on the Candace Newmaker theory, and no explicit reference to Candace Newmaker has ever been given in a Petscop video. By the time Petscop 11 uploaded, the connection had been mainly regarded as allusions.
Among many stories of kidnapping or abuse of children around the time of Petscop, several have been brought up as possible theories.
- This transcript, a transcript of the video evidence provided in the court case against the therapists involved
- This documentingreality.com article, an opinion piece about the death of Candace Newmaker
- A YouTube channel containing videos of/about Attachment Therapy in general. Contains graphic content, proceed with caution.
- Game Theory video covering this topic
Evidence found within Petscop
- Newmaker is a title held by Rainer, and given to the intended or current player. It can also refer to a place within the game, the Newmaker Plane.
- Tiara is who Belle was attempted to be reborn into, and possibly also another character who Belle was meant to become.
- Whether she is called Tiara or Belle is a form of contention in Petscop, as red TOOL answers the question "Do you remember being born?" with "I'm not Tiara".
- In Petscop 12, Belle is told "I'm calling you Belle because that is who you are... if you hadn't given up halfway, you would be Tiara".
- In Petscop 15, Marvin says "This is Bell" which she immediately responds with "I am not Bell, I am Tiara". This is possibly a reference to how Candace Newmaker's middle name was originally Tiara before she was forced to change it to Elizabeth.
- Michael Hammond could be a reference to her brother Michael.
- Belle was the Candace Newmaker's favorite toy.
- Randice, as a name, rhymes with Candace and is thought by some to appear similar.
- "Quitter" is a mantra used many times during Candace Newmaker's rebirthing session, where she was mockingly called "quitter" as a way to further induce rage and despair. In Petscop, the Quitter's Room is the location where Belle was imprisoned for over 17 years, as her character follows in sync with the player character as a mirror image.
The phrase "rebirthing" is stated a few times throughout Petscop.
- In Petscop 3, the note in Care's Child Library room gives a quote from Tiara saying "young people can be psychologically damaged beyond rebirthing".
- In Petscop 9, the Windmill Note mentions that "you married her sister, and years later, your friend was reborn as your daughter".
It is possibly implied that Care was put through some process of rebirthing when she was kidnapped between June and November in 1997. A similar process was induced on Belle, possibly by Rainer.
However, there are many distinct issues that suggest rebirthing in Petscop is very different from attachment therapy. Holding therapy and similar concepts are entirely absent from Petscop. "Rebirthing" in Petscop is described as being very mechanical, as stated in Petscop 12; "I put you inside the machine, and played the second movement of Stravinsky's Septet on the Needles". It appears to involve the A/B/NLM stages, of which is not part of attachment therapy.
Some dates and times in Petscop partially line up with topics relating to the Candace Newmaker case.
- Around 1977, attachment therapy was first developed. 1977 is the year of the windmill incident, and Lina Leskowitz's death.
- Care was kidnapped by Marvin in 1997 and seemingly underwent an attempt at rebirthing that led to her being in the "NLM" state when she escaped. Candace developed Reactive Attachment Disorder in 1996.
- Watkins and Ponder were sentenced for 16 years in prison, similar to how Belle was imprisoned in the Quitter's Room for 17 years.
- If not for Watkins being paroled in 2008, they would have been released from prison at the same time as Petscop first appeared on the Internet.