Zape

[OB] Shallan's psycholigcal problems

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I have just started reading oathbringer and it has only strengthened my belief in something i have been fearing since the last book i strongly suspect shallan has disassociate identity disorder aka multiple personality disorder

from wikipedia 

" Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. There is often trouble remembering certain events, beyond what would be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. These states alternately show in a person's behavior. Presentations, however, are variable. Associated conditions often include borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance misuse disorder, self-harm, or anxiety.

The cause is believed to be due to childhood trauma. In about 90% of cases there is a history of abuse in childhood "

"The symptoms of dissociative amnesia are subsumed under the DID diagnosis"

from the wiki page of psychogenic amnesia

" Psychogenic amnesia, also known as dissociative amnesia, is a memory disorder characterized by sudden retrograde episodic memory loss, said to occur for a period of time ranging from hours to years. More recently, "dissociative amnesia" has been defined as a dissociative disorder "characterized by retrospectively reported memory gaps. These gaps involve an inability to recall personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature."

i am not a psychologist and would be very interested if one happens to stumble over this post i just wanted to point out this thing and discuss possible implications it might have on the story

 

ps: i am only about 16 chapters into oathbringer please no spoilers for further in the book

Edited by Zape
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That is indeed the suspicion on the forums as well, I believe. Not sure exactly, as I don't know that much about personality disorders, but at least people agree there's something wrong.

And maybe it's good to just read the rest of the book, there's a lot happening on this topic during Oathbringer.

Oh, and you should put [OB] before the title of the topic because it (may) contain(s) Oathbringer spoilers.

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oh sorry i thought just putting it in the spoilers section would be okay

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47 minutes ago, Zape said:

oh sorry i thought just putting it in the spoilers section would be okay

It's because reasons, I don't know what exactly. I believe it shows up in general feeds that just show everything, or something like that.

You can add it by editing the first post and then just adding it to the title.

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At first glance she does have DID. Looking closer though she does not truly dissociate. She retains memories between personalities, and as much as she speaks mostly in the third person on reference to the others there are times that she slips up. Brandon has also stated that this isn't quite DID, and having just finished a reread of OB, she does slip up far more often than is at first apparent. 

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

So, a couple of things here. First off, I'll take any knocks I get--and try to do better. I'm not an expert on Mental Health, and though I do my best, I'm going to get things wrong. I'm going to risk defending myself here--and hopefully not dig myself deeper--as I at least explain my thought process, and why I built Shallan the way I did.

However, one of the rules of thumb I go by is this: Individual experience can defy the standard, if I understand that is what I'm doing. Like how Stephen Leeds is not trying to accurately portray Schizophrenia, Shallan is not trying to accurately portray dissociative identity disorder (if a scholarly consensus on such a thing even exists. I haven't glanced through the DSM5 to see what it says.)

In Legion, I have an easy out. I say, point blank, "He doesn't fit the diagnosis--he's not a schizophrenic, or if he is, he's a very weird one." I don't have the benefit of a modern psychology voice in the Stormlight books to hang a lantern on this, but my intention is the same. What Shallan has is related to her individual interaction with the world, her past, and the magic.

Is this Hollywood MPD? I'm not convinced. Hollywood MPD (with DSM4 backing it up, I believe) tends to involve things like a person feeling like they're possessed, and completely out of control. The different identities don't remember what others did. It's a very werewolf type thing. You wake up, and learn that another version of you took over your body and went out and committed crimes or whatever.

Shallan is coping with her pain in (best I've been able to do) a very realistic way, by boxing off and retreating and putting on a mask of humor and false "everything is okay" attitudes. But she has magical abilities that nobody in this world has, including the ability to put on masks that change the way everyone perceives her. She's playing roles as she puts them on, but I make it very clear (with deliberate slip-ups of self-reference in the prose) that it's always Shallan in there, and she's specifically playing this role because it lets her ignore the things she doesn't want to face.

She's losing control of what is real and what isn't--partially because she can't decide who she wants to be, who she should be, and what the world wants her to be. But it's not like other personalities are creeping in from a fractured psyche. She's hiding behind masks, and creates each role for herself to act in an attempt to solve a perceived shortcoming in herself. She literally sketched out Veil and thought, "Yup, I'm going to become that person now." Because Veil would have never been tricked into caring about her father; she would have been too wise for that.

I feel it's as close as I can get to realism, while the same time acknowledging that as a fantasy author, one of my primary goals is to explore the human interaction with the supernatural. The "What ifs" of magic. What if a person who had suffered a great deal of abuse as a child COULD create a mask for themselves, changing themselves into someone stronger (or more street-smart who wouldn't have been betrayed that way. Would they do it, and hide behind that mask? What would that do to them and the world around them?

DID is indeed controversial, but I really like this portrayal. Not of a disease, but of who this character is. And I've had had enough positive responses from people who feel their own psychology is similar that I'm confident a non-insignificant number of people out there identify with what she's doing in the same way people with depression identify with Kaladin.

source

She's definitely got issues, but there is no true segregation of personalities like you would see in DID. 

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5 hours ago, Calderis said:

At first glance she does have DID. Looking closer though she does not truly dissociate. She retains memories between personalities, and as much as she speaks mostly in the third person on reference to the others there are times that she slips up. Brandon has also stated that this isn't quite DID, and having just finished a reread of OB, she does slip up far more often than is at first apparent. 

She's definitely got issues, but there is no true segregation of personalities like you would see in DID. 

maybe this ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder

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@Zape

Nah, I know people with this, Shallan doesn't present as such

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1 minute ago, Xtafa said:

@Zape

Nah, I know people with this, Shallan doesn't present as such

did or bpd ?

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BPD. Shes more in line with DID besides disassociating, though still doesn't match. 

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Just now, Xtafa said:

BPD. Shes more in line with DID besides disassociating, though still doesn't match. 

we need an actual psycolgist here

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@Zape

I am not a psychologist, but there are a lot of criterias for BPD, and "distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self" is only one of them.

Check out (signs and symptoms):

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml

You'd have to make a case for a few of those...

For "fun", you could answer this quiz as an "informant", based on what you know of Shallan:

http://psych.community/dx/?dxname=borderline

I find it unlikely that she'd get the diagnosis, really.

Edited by go_go_gragdet
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I am a psychology student, specializing in disorders and criminal psychology but also, medically speaking have actually gone through almost exactly what Shallan is going through as of OB. I do not believe Shallan has DID. That's not what it is. What she has is most likely Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (OSDD) type-1b. If you want to know more, here's a thing. The reason I'm so sure is because of deep personal experience that I don't really want to go into too much detail about.

OSDD example 1 is either identity disturbance with less distinct parts than in Dissociative Identity Disorder (they cannot physically take executive control over the person's body, but strongly influence the person's thoughts and actions and amnesia is present), known as DDNOS-1a [7]:409, or distinct dissociative parts (alters or alternate identities) exist and can take executive control, but without amnesia, [5][6] known as DDNOS-1b. Read more: http://traumadissociation.com/osdd

I might use this to say something, but I'm kinda scared after some experiences on the Locked Thread that Shall not be Named. I understand that Brandon wanted to make this a magical thing. But the problem is, by avoiding Hollywood DID, he managed to portray a very accurate representation of real OSDD. With one major exception. The treatment. The implication is that Shallan's actions in Oathbringer have been a positive step to recovery. The problem is that it is almost the complete opposite of the healthy treatment options for this condition. The chances are small, but I worry that someone reading Oathbringer with OSDD may recognize their own symptoms in Shallan, except they'll end up walking away with completely wrong cues based on the ending and presentation of Shallan's arc in OB. I'm very interested to know whether Brandon was aware of the existence of this condition. It's a long shot, but I might as well @PeterAhlstrom on the off chance he sees it and passes it along. I must admit, as someone who went through a very similar mental trial, it was very difficult to read most of the Shallan parts of Oathbringer. Especially the end. She inadvertently did all the things that professionals advocate NOT doing to treat the condition. 

Sorry for the rant. I hope this at least sheds some light on things. 

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 @FuzzyWordsmith Well, one of the main arguments in the Thread that Shall not be Named was that Brandon is misleading the audience by implying Shallan would be on recovery; While in fact the relationship to a certain character is actually hindering the chances for recovery. BTW that thread offered waaay more good arguments than people give it credit for.    

But yes, I agree with you. It is kind of problematic to end the narrative for a few years on that note. 

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@Diomedes Yes, it had a LOT of good arguments. It had more good arguments then bad ones. The problems is that everyone was ignoring them. But yes, if anyone wants to trawl through it and find the OSDD stuff, it was discussed at length there.

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I don't think she fully has DID, as each person she becomes, there are three of them, are simply versions of herself. They were also created after the traumatic event she endured, and DID usually occurs when someone is going through something very... Traumatic, too help them cope. Shallan definitely has something like that, or at least is experiencing a form of it, but I don't think it is truly DID. I had the same thought a while ago.

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I too don't think Shallan has DID, just the very strong desire to be "someone other than Shallan Davar."  Surgebinding is said to potentially widen the cracks in your soul, so I'm sure that played its own role as well, particularly since Shallan seems to reprogram herself mnemonically to emulate how she perceives the persona acting.  This can be seen very clearly when she "births" Radiant in the beginning part of Oathbringer (top of p162 hardback edition for the exact idea of which I'm referring).

Not only that, but keep in mind that Shallan directly exposed herself to not one, but two of the Unmade, one of which specifically aims to consume Cognitive aspects.  I'd say she was pretty damaged by her contact with Ashertmarn in particular*, but this isn't the sole cause of the problem with her.  It's pretty much what Wit said, then add in the fact her powers allow her to change and the fact she took a beating mentally from one of the Unmade, and it really shouldn't be a surprise that she became a mess that needs time to heal towards the end.

 

* Random aside, but I think inexperienced Lightweavers in particular do not do well with coming into direct contact with Ashertmarn or Nergaoul, since Lightweavers' abilities let them be Cognitively malleable.

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Perhaps I am being naive here, but I do not think Brandon wants us to even remotely feel that Shallan is actually on a positive step to recovery. I think he wants us to feel that she thinks she is, but for us to know better.  I think the year jump needs to happen because it will take time for Shallan to realize, "Oh hey, this felt ok for a while, but this is not sustainable." I think Wit knew the correct route to go for treatment, and Shallan has clearly twisted his words to take the easy way out. 

We are coming into book 4 of 5. Just like Brandon tends to write his books in 5 parts, the first part of the series is in 5 parts, which means that its about time that stuff really goes to Braize in a handbasket. It's my opinion that book four is where stuff HAS to get worse before it gets better. The end of Book 3 is the perfect time for false hopes and happiness. I won't get into speculation about whether or not this will break Shallan and Adolin irreparably (because quite frankly I am of two minds about what I think will happen vs what I want to happen), but I will be severely shocked if it doesn't at least rock their marriage to their core. Adolin is absolutely enabling her and encouraging her on a wrong path. I think that can go down multiple plot possibilities (them realizing and working on appropriate treatment together, it ruining their marriage, we really have a lot of possibilities here).

Basically, @FuzzyWordsmith, I think Brandon wants us to feel ready to SCREAM at Shallan that this is NOT okay, and everything is so far from fine that fine isn't even visible. Book four is, in my opinion, going to be some seriously dark times all around, but I think Shallan is going to hit rock bottom. I can see some potentially dangerous gaps for those of us reading real time (in that we are vulnerable in the meantime while we wait for more books) and that does make me nervous for real people who potentially have this diagnosis. However, I have faith that Brandon is seriously considering how delicately he handles our several mental health situations and that when all is said and done, they will not imply unhealthy "treatments" over the course of the entire series. I strongly believe that Brandon agrees that what she is doing is the opposite of what she should be doing, and that will become apparent. I hope she will be able to fully reintegrate, but in the meantime, I think hard lessons about why this is not the appropriate treatment must be learned. 

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28 minutes ago, misskassiekynn said:

Perhaps I am being naive here, but I do not think Brandon wants us to even remotely feel that Shallan is actually on a positive step to recovery. I think he wants us to feel that she thinks she is, but for us to know better.  I think the year jump needs to happen because it will take time for Shallan to realize, "Oh hey, this felt ok for a while, but this is not sustainable." I think Wit knew the correct route to go for treatment, and Shallan has clearly twisted his words to take the easy way out. 

We are coming into book 4 of 5. Just like Brandon tends to write his books in 5 parts, the first part of the series is in 5 parts, which means that its about time that stuff really goes to Braize in a handbasket. It's my opinion that book four is where stuff HAS to get worse before it gets better. The end of Book 3 is the perfect time for false hopes and happiness. I won't get into speculation about whether or not this will break Shallan and Adolin irreparably (because quite frankly I am of two minds about what I think will happen vs what I want to happen), but I will be severely shocked if it doesn't at least rock their marriage to their core. Adolin is absolutely enabling her and encouraging her on a wrong path. I think that can go down multiple plot possibilities (them realizing and working on appropriate treatment together, it ruining their marriage, we really have a lot of possibilities here).

I agree, but we seem to be in the minority with this assessment here.

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19 minutes ago, SLNC said:

I agree, but we seem to be in the minority with this assessment here.

That makes me sad because frankly, the fact of what is happening and the potential effect it will have on their relationship are two separate things. It seems people tend to be in the camps of:

1. Adolin is encouraging unhealthy habits, their relationship is doomed.

2. Adolin is helping her heal, they are clearly meant to be. 

To me, I think they are two separate issues. People can encourage someone they truly love on an unhealthy path, purely because they are not aware of the appropriate clinical treatment. I think the repercussions of that and how they handle them are what will determine their long-term relationship status. I don't want to go into my opinion on what the outcome will be, but I do think we are making a mistake in treating it is if Adolin's misguided encouragement is somehow intrinsically linked to the outcome of their relationship. 

Edited by misskassiekynn
Edited to add, now I am hyperventilating that mean Thread that Shall Not Be Named people are coming for me....
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On 5/7/2018 at 4:12 AM, FuzzyWordsmith said:

The implication is that Shallan's actions in Oathbringer have been a positive step to recovery.

Did we read the same book?  My impression of Shallan in Oathbringer was her spiraling downward.  

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3 minutes ago, Scion of the Mists said:

Did we read the same book?  My impression of Shallan in Oathbringer was her spiraling downward.  

Most of the book was pretty clearly her downward spiral.  That said, I think you could also argue that she did show signs of improvement, or at least signs that she was breaking the trend.

 

There were a few points that show this.  The one I'm thinking of was when she had to fight back all the other selves that were trying to pop up near her feet.  She fought them back and pushed back the urge to split into an even worse mental state. 

 

So the way I see it Oathbringer was supposed to show some of the worst parts of er downward spiral, and shows her pull out of it a bit.  It still doesn't leave her in a great spot, but she stopped herself from losing it entirely, which was the path OB seemed to be taking at first.

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On 18.05.2018 at 6:17 PM, misskassiekynn said:

That makes me sad because frankly, the fact of what is happening and the potential effect it will have on their relationship are two separate things. It seems people tend to be in the camps of:

1. Adolin is encouraging unhealthy habits, their relationship is doomed.

2. Adolin is helping her heal, they are clearly meant to be. 

To me, I think they are two separate issues. People can encourage someone they truly love on an unhealthy path, purely because they are not aware of the appropriate clinical treatment. I think the repercussions of that and how they handle them are what will determine their long-term relationship status. I don't want to go into my opinion on what the outcome will be, but I do think we are making a mistake in treating it is if Adolin's misguided encouragement is somehow intrinsically linked to the outcome of their relationship. 

Could you elaborate on what would be the propper clinical treatment? I'm not in any way experienced in the subject, and I would like to know what did he do wrong.

Is it because he considers one Shallan "true" and others "false"? Or is it something that I missed completely.

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A couple quick notes here, I actually had a short conversation with Brandon on this when I got my copy of Oathbringer signed. I'm also a psychology student specializing in disorders. He told me he consults with several people who are well versed in psychology when he tries to portray anything along these lines. He did say (and this goes along with other statements already made) that his intention was not to have Shallan diagnosed with DID like Kaladin is with Depression. He did take some ideas from the disorder to use in the story, but he didn't intend for her to be set into a specific mental illness category. Like we said before, Brandon's focus was mainly on the magical consequences, which makes her case weird anyways.

Just thought I'd add that since I talked to Brandon about it specifically.

I will also point out that among the psychological community there is huge debate over whether or not DID is actually a mental illness, or at least that the concept and description of the illness is lacking some very key points and understanding. For example when observing brain behavior of individuals with DID, they was no observable change when personalities "switched". However, for the things that we do know about DID, Brandon followed the rules so well that Shallan is an extremely accurate representation of someone who COULD have this disorder. Hence the reason so many people have pointed it out. Brandon is just too dang clever for his own good.

This is actually one of the reasons I'm not a huge Shallan hater like a lot of other people. In fact, all my friends who have read the book and have an interest in psychology think Shallan is a great character because of who accurately her history matches up with her psyche. For someone who has gone through what she has, it is not surprise that acts and reacts the ways that she does. Sure, it drives us nuts as we see her make choices that we know aren't good for her, but that's because her portrayal is consistent with real life.

Anywho, Imma get off my soapbox now. I just really love psychology so this conversation makes me twitch with excitement :)

Edited by Obnoxiousspren
Highlighting important bit.
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12 minutes ago, Obnoxiousspren said:

A couple quick notes here, I actually had a short conversation with Brandon on this when I got my copy of Oathbringer signed. I'm also a psychology student specializing in disorders. He told me he consults with several people who are well versed in psychology when he tries to portray anything along these lines. He did say (and this goes along with other statements already made) that his intention was not to have Shallan diagnosed with DID like Kaladin is with Depression. He did take some ideas from the disorder to use in the story, but he didn't intend for her to be set into a specific mental illness category. Like we said before, Brandon's focus was mainly on the magical consequences, which makes her case weird anyways.

Just thought I'd add that since I talked to Brandon about it specifically.

Which signing were you at, if you don't mind my asking? I don't recall seeing that from any of the signings that were recorded. (And there were a few that weren't, unfortunately.)

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30 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

Which signing were you at, if you don't mind my asking? I don't recall seeing that from any of the signings that were recorded. (And there were a few that weren't, unfortunately.)

It was the February signing at BYU Provo Bookstore. Unfortunately I don't have any sort of recording or thing like that, so the summary I just gave is kinda the best I've got.

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