Calderis

Shallan's shift in direction.

112 posts in this topic

I think one of the primary dangers here is the PT Barnum syndrome, at what point is this just sensationalism? Really, this rubs me the wrong way, not for the reasons mostly mentioned, but because it's a bit like Oliver Stone's defense of the ultraviolence in his movie Natural Born Killers. Saying that it's a critique on how violent movies have become while still capitalizing on the interest in violence is a hypocritical position. Just like having a character with an exotic mental illness while saying you are treating it respectfully is still a kind of voyeurism that I find distasteful. Even though Brandon has a beta reader with DID, I'm always skeptical when a single person speaks for a larger community, and I think this is compounded in this case when the multiplicity of one is trying to represent the multiplicity of an entire community of multiplicity. 

DID has a lot of innate interest built into it, and quite frankly is a plot device that I wish Brandon had stayed away from. Ultimately he is choosing how to tell his story, and I get that a major component of Stormlight Archive is the fact that people have to be broken in order to find their link to power. It's a nice moral, a good message, but I think it runs the risk of having the Knights Radiants become a catalogue of DSM conditions.

This also begs the question, is Brandon going to create a sympathetic sociopathic character? What about a highly functioning narcissist? What about a character with uncontrollable impulsive thoughts?

I really like Shallan as a character, but this seems like a tacked on thing. I might have a different opinion of this if Brandon hadn't stated time and time again that he was going to steer clear of the whole DID with Shallan. With this choice of direction, I think Brandon is running the risk of having the story warped around the exigencies of the condition, and also he runs the real risk of not accurately portraying the condition. In watching the video linked by @Karger above, it seems like people with DID have some similar common alters, one of which is an alter frozen in childhood. In pursuit of a realistic depiction of the condition, this alter might be added to Shallan's multiplicity, and from a narrative stand point that is just horrible. Having a major character switch basically to the mind frame of a child while in the midst of a bloody, grisly war (definitely an adult situation) would be awful. But if he doesn't include a child alter than is he really accurately depicting the condition or is this just the Hollywood narrative device version of the condition? Also, I don't like the implications for the narrative, because Shallan has this condition and isn't just trapped in a confusing web of self delusions, it pretty much rules her out of the running for Odium's champion. Brandon's hands will be tied in what he can do with Shallan because he will want her to be a sympathetic character, which necessarily limits the range of the possibilities for her character progression.

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Posted (edited)

29 minutes ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

I think one of the primary dangers here is the PT Barnum syndrome, at what point is this just sensationalism? Really, this rubs me the wrong way, not for the reasons mostly mentioned, but because it's a bit like Oliver Stone's defense of the ultraviolence in his movie Natural Born Killers. Saying that it's a critique on how violent movies have become while still capitalizing on the interest in violence is a hypocritical position. Just like having a character with an exotic mental illness while saying you are treating it respectfully is still a kind of voyeurism that I find distasteful. Even though Brandon has a beta reader with DID, I'm always skeptical when a single person speaks for a larger community, and I think this is compounded in this case when the multiplicity of one is trying to represent the multiplicity of an entire community of multiplicity. 

DID has a lot of innate interest built into it, and quite frankly is a plot device that I wish Brandon had stayed away from. Ultimately he is choosing how to tell his story, and I get that a major component of Stormlight Archive is the fact that people have to be broken in order to find their link to power. It's a nice moral, a good message, but I think it runs the risk of having the Knights Radiants become a catalogue of DSM conditions.

This also begs the question, is Brandon going to create a sympathetic sociopathic character? What about a highly functioning narcissist? What about a character with uncontrollable impulsive thoughts?

I really like Shallan as a character, but this seems like a tacked on thing. I might have a different opinion of this if Brandon hadn't stated time and time again that he was going to steer clear of the whole DID with Shallan. With this choice of direction, I think Brandon is running the risk of having the story warped around the exigencies of the condition, and also he runs the real risk of not accurately portraying the condition. In watching the video linked by @Karger above, it seems like people with DID have some similar common alters, one of which is an alter frozen in childhood. In pursuit of a realistic depiction of the condition, this alter might be added to Shallan's multiplicity, and from a narrative stand point that is just horrible. Having a major character switch basically to the mind frame of a child while in the midst of a bloody, grisly war (definitely an adult situation) would be awful. But if he doesn't include a child alter than is he really accurately depicting the condition or is this just the Hollywood narrative device version of the condition? Also, I don't like the implications for the narrative, because Shallan has this condition and isn't just trapped in a confusing web of self delusions, it pretty much rules her out of the running for Odium's champion. Brandon's hands will be tied in what he can do with Shallan because he will want her to be a sympathetic character, which necessarily limits the range of the possibilities for her character progression.

Well first and foremost, you are totally entitled to not enjoy reading Shallan with DID. That is your prerogative. I am in no way saying you have to be all jolly on the spot about it. 

Now having said that, for myself, I had not seen any indication that Brandon is sensationalizing DID via Shallan as a vehicle. I just view it as representation. Just because it has not been seen prior, and now is evident, does not mean to me that it is saturation. Sand at the beach is still the same sand if a cup full is taken home with you. It may become more readily apparent when presented in contrast to a location that till that time was bereft of sand, but I wouldn't say that means I am holding the cup of sand up and saying to the world "Hey over here! Look at this sand!". For myself, it is acknowledging sand exists. Which is from what I understand, why Brandon is having his heroes have these attributes. I don't see anywhere that he is extolling, or lauding having such conditions. I believe he is just saying, "Hey these people exist. They are not an insignifcant number of the population, and they can be heroes too". 

So to answer your other question, sure as far as I am concerned he can feel free to include a high functioning narcissist, or sociopath if he feels he can portray them in a respectful manner. 

 

Side note, I had a thought to expand on my response to Rainer. There is not a cure for losing your leg. We do not have the capability to grow one back. There is not a cure for depression, anxiety, DID, and so on. All we have now are ways to manage, and live a as productive life as possible. Recognizing that a person can do so, and be ok I do not believe is condoning nor extolling the conditions. It does not to me equate saying they require no treatment. I think we are saying to recognize that a person can have such a condition, and still be a happy, productive member of society, and does not have to be identified by such conditions in a limiting manner. 

Edited by Pathfinder
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Alright. I think I've figured out how to put into words why this situation bothers me so much. 

In a person with a physical disability people initially have pity, and a similar initial discomfort as they would towards this with a mental issue. But when that person makes progress and, through prosthetics or whatever other means overcomes that disability and surpasses peoples expectations of what they, or an average fully able person, can do, they are lauded and viewed as an inspiration. 

Whereas a mental issue is viewed as frightening or other, or weird, regardless of the ability to function or the level of progress that someone has made.

And it's absolutely ignorant and hypocritical, because when it comes to mental health no one is normal. We're all walking bundles of neuroses. We all have our traditions or ticks or addictions that let us cope. But so long as those coping mechanisms are socially acceptable, they're ignored. 

29 minutes ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

This also begs the question, is Brandon going to create a sympathetic sociopathic character? What about a highly functioning narcissist? What about a character with uncontrollable impulsive thoughts?

He's already done two of these. Elhokar was extremely narcissist, and the Sociopath is one of Brandon's most beloved characters. 

Mistborn spoilers. 

Spoiler

Kelsier

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24 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

Well first and foremost, you are totally entitled to not enjoy reading Shallan with DID. That is your prerogative. I am in no way saying you have to be all jolly on the spot about it.

Hahaha, well, I do love Brandon's books and I am actually usually quite "jolly on the spot" when I'm reading his works. I truly appreciate that he writes with a moral imperative, Dalinar's oath of "If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man" is powerful, motivational stuff, and I think including characters with personality attributes that some would dismiss as flaws but that Brandon highlights as just struggles that make them who they are is really good.

My point really was that he didn't by necessity need to take Shallan down the DID path, but it's a choice that he has made (and in fairness to Brandon, I do think he will do a very good job with it). And this will have implications for Shallan's character arc because giving a character DID makes them the narrative equivalent of the 3 legged dog Little Brudder from Strong Bad (he could have passed for a 1000 yards). The character is necessarily going to be insulated from certain outcomes because of his desire to be respectful and sympathetic to the condition. If she was just trapped in a series of self-delusions, suffering from PTSD, and not fully dissociated, it would still be believable that she could possibly be Odium's champion. But the fact that she has a real world condition, and that real people with this same condition will look to her as a lens for understanding their own condition, makes it so he has less room to maneuver with Shallan. That's really more of my concern with this choice, I think like you said Brandon will steer clear of sensationalizing the condition, but also for narrative purposes he might choose to less accurately portray it (which, with his powers as an author is fully his right to do).

I liked your sand in a cup analogy, by the way, I hope you have a cup full sand sitting by your desk. If you do, then you could place a small fold-up drink umbrella in it, and then position the cup and umbrella so that the sun is directly behind it, and be transported to the beach in your home/office. Nice stuff.

33 minutes ago, Calderis said:

He's already done two of these. Elhokar was extremely narcissist, and the Sociopath is one of Brandon's most beloved characters.

Yeah, but with Elhokar, he was on the path to Radiance because he was trying to get past his Narcissism, not because of it. It's one of those conditions that is unsympathetic, because at it's base the individual experiencing it has underdeveloped empathy, and I find it hard to believe that an arc of Radiance could include the maintenance of full blown Narcissism. Highly functioning narcissists are successful, low functioning narcissists (like Elhokar) are not. The success reinforces the condition, the lack of success undercuts a core belief, namely that everything should work out because they are exceptional.

Addressing the other one below, Mistborn Spoilers:

Spoiler

Kelsier is a sociopath, and his lack of empathy for the nobles, his narcissistic tendencies, his qualified conscience and his willingness to manipulate did help him to become the Sovereign. And Brandon does indeed make him an incredibly likeable character, presented sympathetically, but I don't think that his sociopathic tendencies get a pass, because those are detrimental. They are listed in the DSM as maladaptive behaviors, because a suppressed sense of empathy, a lack of conscience and the willingness to manipulate others have detrimental effects on society.

So I don't think a character should be lauded for managing to attain goals though they were sociopathic. And the path to Radiance for a character with sociopathic tendencies, probably like Elhokar's path with Narcissism, would most likely involve overcoming some of the detrimental maladaptive behaviors.

Everyone has struggles in life to be sure, and their is no right path to where you want to go. I think it is to the good that Brandon is exploring what it means to struggle with mental health with his books, and I think that some of the most powerful moments have come about because of his desire to address these issues (Kaladin at the Chasm, Shallan's Discussion with Wit in Kholinar, and Dalina's refusal to give Odium his pain).

I personally would have liked to see Shallan not have DID, mostly because I liked the wildcard element of her narrative arc, and it seems like with her having a real world condition Brandon (in an effort to be respectful) will have her have a fully sympathetic arc. It's a bit like knowing that a character is going to be in a sequel, and seeing them in the first movie in a point of danger, you know that nothing is really going to happen so the tension is lost.

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2 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

So I have seen this around a lot. That Shallan's DID is a new thing that she developed recently. Has anyone suggested or considered that maybe Shallan has had DID since she was a child? (genuine question, not being snarky or sarcastic)

Yeah, totally plausible.

We don't know. If she had it since childhood it implies Brandon just hid it from us by simply not showing her during the moments where she's an alter, right? And, no internal dialog with them? Plausible, but feels really clunky to me. Especially considering there's a lot of scenes in the first two books where I would have expected Veil to come out. So I don't like the idea very much.

I also don't know much about DID. I guess maybe it's possible a smaller more subtle alter or two existed which then grew into Veil/Radiant? I dunno. It probably fits, but would be a complicated explanation.

Would have MUCH preferred to see the personas develop more naturally (and find equilibrium naturally) on the page, if this is what Brandon intended.

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Posted (edited)

24 minutes ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

Yeah, but with Elhokar, he was on the path to Radiance because he was trying to get past his Narcissism, not because of it. It's one of those conditions that is unsympathetic, because at it's base the individual experiencing it has underdeveloped empathy, and I find it hard to believe that an arc of Radiance could include the maintenance of full blown Narcissism. Highly functioning narcissists are successful, low functioning narcissists (like Elhokar) are not. The success reinforces the condition, the lack of success undercuts a core belief, namely that everything should work out because they are exceptional.

But this is, in itself, a realistic portrayal of narcissism. Growing to start recognizing the issues and working to be better in spite of them. 

As to the Mistborn stuff. 

Spoiler

Again, of course the Sociopathic traits don't get a pass. That doesn't change that functional sociopaths exist and are highly successful in many many roles in society for the same reasons Kelsier is. 

I am not, in any way, saying that this things should be considered "normal" because they aren't. I'm only saying that there are stigmas attached to them that ignore people's progress in overcoming them because people are made uncomfortable by them and fear them. 

Some conditions can make much better progress than others depending on severity. But just because someone doesn't reach a point that they are viewed as normal does not mean that they have not reached a point of stability and health for themselves. 

19 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Yeah, totally plausible.

We don't know. If she had it since childhood it implies Brandon just hid it from us by simply not showing her during the moments where she's an alter, right? And, no internal dialog with them? Plausible, but feels really clunky to me. Especially considering there's a lot of scenes in the first two books where I would have expected Veil to come out. So I don't like the idea very much.

I also don't know much about DID. I guess maybe it's possible a smaller more subtle alter or two existed which then grew into Veil/Radiant? I dunno. It probably fits, but would be a complicated explanation.

Would have MUCH preferred to see the personas develop more naturally (and find equilibrium naturally) on the page, if this is what Brandon intended.

My take on this is that while she didn't have alters we do see her dissociate frequently in her flashbacks, and even in current time before the alters. 

There are frequent states that are almost catatonia in her flashbacks where she does not know how long she has been standing in place staring. There is one point in WoR where Pattern is trying to speak to her about her past and... She just chooses not to hear it. His words trail off, and then after an unclear period of time she continues speaking as if he never spoke. 

She was dissociating even before we saw the alters develop. I understand it was subtle and the desire for clearer tells, but signs have been there from the beginning. 

Edited by Calderis
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44 minutes ago, Calderis said:

There are frequent states that are almost catatonia in her flashbacks where she does not know how long she has been standing in place staring. There is one point in WoR where Pattern is trying to speak to her about her past and... She just chooses not to hear it. His words trail off, and then after an unclear period of time she continues speaking as if he never spoke. 

She was dissociating even before we saw the alters develop. I understand it was subtle and the desire for clearer tells, but signs have been there from the beginning. 

Yes, absolutely. She has always had a dissociative disorder, even before the alters "arrived." Her dissociation existed since childhood, and the alters' existence are just another type of dissociation when forced to remember something she wasn't ready for (her end of WoR moment).

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3 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

There is not a cure for losing your leg. We do not have the capability to grow one back.

Except within the work we absolutely do have the capability to grow one back. This is fantasy. Let it be fantastical.

3 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

There is not a cure for depression, anxiety, DID, and so on.

Maybe not in the real world, but we're not talking about the real world, are we? We're talking about fiction.

3 hours ago, Calderis said:

And it's absolutely ignorant and hypocritical, because when it comes to mental health no one is normal. We're all walking bundles of neuroses.

This is a bunch of nonsense. You can try to simply define away everything you don't like, but that doesn't change the reality around you. Most people are normal, some people are not. Most people are not normal in some way, but that doesn't make them less normal in other ways. The people who are abnormal in significant ways will continue to be abnormal in significant ways even when you put them next to others who are abnormal in less significant ways.

56 minutes ago, Calderis said:

I am not, in any way, saying that this things should be considered "normal" because they aren't.

Of course not, because you oppose the very idea of normality as some kind of postmodern deconstruction of...what exactly? What is the big deal with saying this is normal, that is not, when it's so obvious that one person per brain is normal, and three people per brain is not?

1 hour ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

I personally would have liked to see Shallan not have DID, mostly because I liked the wildcard element of her narrative arc, and it seems like with her having a real world condition Brandon (in an effort to be respectful) will have her have a fully sympathetic arc. It's a bit like knowing that a character is going to be in a sequel, and seeing them in the first movie in a point of danger, you know that nothing is really going to happen so the tension is lost.

Yes, she's been so thoroughly plot-armored that any tension from her is gone. Her DID cannot meaningfully interact with the story being told and simultaneously be an accurate and respectful portrayal. One purpose is going to be sacrificed to serve the other, and like you said, I'm afraid we're going to end up with a fantasy DSM instead of a fantasy story.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

Hahaha, well, I do love Brandon's books and I am actually usually quite "jolly on the spot" when I'm reading his works. I truly appreciate that he writes with a moral imperative, Dalinar's oath of "If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man" is powerful, motivational stuff, and I think including characters with personality attributes that some would dismiss as flaws but that Brandon highlights as just struggles that make them who they are is really good.

My point really was that he didn't by necessity need to take Shallan down the DID path, but it's a choice that he has made (and in fairness to Brandon, I do think he will do a very good job with it). And this will have implications for Shallan's character arc because giving a character DID makes them the narrative equivalent of the 3 legged dog Little Brudder from Strong Bad (he could have passed for a 1000 yards). The character is necessarily going to be insulated from certain outcomes because of his desire to be respectful and sympathetic to the condition. If she was just trapped in a series of self-delusions, suffering from PTSD, and not fully dissociated, it would still be believable that she could possibly be Odium's champion. But the fact that she has a real world condition, and that real people with this same condition will look to her as a lens for understanding their own condition, makes it so he has less room to maneuver with Shallan. That's really more of my concern with this choice, I think like you said Brandon will steer clear of sensationalizing the condition, but also for narrative purposes he might choose to less accurately portray it (which, with his powers as an author is fully his right to do).

I liked your sand in a cup analogy, by the way, I hope you have a cup full sand sitting by your desk. If you do, then you could place a small fold-up drink umbrella in it, and then position the cup and umbrella so that the sun is directly behind it, and be transported to the beach in your home/office. Nice stuff.

Yeah, but with Elhokar, he was on the path to Radiance because he was trying to get past his Narcissism, not because of it. It's one of those conditions that is unsympathetic, because at it's base the individual experiencing it has underdeveloped empathy, and I find it hard to believe that an arc of Radiance could include the maintenance of full blown Narcissism. Highly functioning narcissists are successful, low functioning narcissists (like Elhokar) are not. The success reinforces the condition, the lack of success undercuts a core belief, namely that everything should work out because they are exceptional.

Addressing the other one below, Mistborn Spoilers:

  Reveal hidden contents

Kelsier is a sociopath, and his lack of empathy for the nobles, his narcissistic tendencies, his qualified conscience and his willingness to manipulate did help him to become the Sovereign. And Brandon does indeed make him an incredibly likeable character, presented sympathetically, but I don't think that his sociopathic tendencies get a pass, because those are detrimental. They are listed in the DSM as maladaptive behaviors, because a suppressed sense of empathy, a lack of conscience and the willingness to manipulate others have detrimental effects on society.

So I don't think a character should be lauded for managing to attain goals though they were sociopathic. And the path to Radiance for a character with sociopathic tendencies, probably like Elhokar's path with Narcissism, would most likely involve overcoming some of the detrimental maladaptive behaviors.

Everyone has struggles in life to be sure, and their is no right path to where you want to go. I think it is to the good that Brandon is exploring what it means to struggle with mental health with his books, and I think that some of the most powerful moments have come about because of his desire to address these issues (Kaladin at the Chasm, Shallan's Discussion with Wit in Kholinar, and Dalina's refusal to give Odium his pain).

I personally would have liked to see Shallan not have DID, mostly because I liked the wildcard element of her narrative arc, and it seems like with her having a real world condition Brandon (in an effort to be respectful) will have her have a fully sympathetic arc. It's a bit like knowing that a character is going to be in a sequel, and seeing them in the first movie in a point of danger, you know that nothing is really going to happen so the tension is lost.

Thank you regarding my sand analogy. 

Regarding Shallan not being able to "go evil" if she has DID because it could be received poorly, I will be completely upfront that I have not watched Mr. Robot, so anything I reference to it is pure surface knowledge, but from what I understand the main character has DID as well as depression and anxiety. To my knowledge that show has done very well incorporating those conditions within the character and its portrayal. So I think it certainly is possible to do. 

 

1 hour ago, Jofwu said:

Yeah, totally plausible.

We don't know. If she had it since childhood it implies Brandon just hid it from us by simply not showing her during the moments where she's an alter, right? And, no internal dialog with them? Plausible, but feels really clunky to me. Especially considering there's a lot of scenes in the first two books where I would have expected Veil to come out. So I don't like the idea very much.

I also don't know much about DID. I guess maybe it's possible a smaller more subtle alter or two existed which then grew into Veil/Radiant? I dunno. It probably fits, but would be a complicated explanation.

Would have MUCH preferred to see the personas develop more naturally (and find equilibrium naturally) on the page, if this is what Brandon intended.

I guess my point is, unless I am recalling incorrectly, we have not actually seen a single flashback of Shallan at the age when she first bonded pattern. We see a brief recollection of deja vu regarding creating an illusion. We see another brief recollection of feeling like everything was not so nice in the davar household before her mother died when Shallan did the illusory performance on stage. But I do not think we have seen Shallan at the age of her bonding pattern initially at all. So there isn't really any internal dialogue hidden, because I don't think we have seen the scenes yet to know. 

Meanwhile we begin to see Veil and Radiant start to pop up as Shallan begins to face truths regarding each of her parents death. That is the trauma I believe triggered the alters. 

 

19 minutes ago, Rainier said:

Except within the work we absolutely do have the capability to grow one back. This is fantasy. Let it be fantastical.

Fantasy is fantastical within the bounds the author decides. Even with regenerating limbs, there are hard rules on that in the cosmere. One of the hard rules includes not being able to use cosmeric healing to change your brain chemistry. So I guess my point is, somewhere there has to be a line, and the author decided to draw it there. 

Quote

Maybe not in the real world, but we're not talking about the real world, are we? We're talking about fiction.

But you used a real world example to illustrate your point, so I continued it to what I felt was the logical conclusion. You said how a person in our world without a leg is seen as not normal, so that mental conditions should not be normalized. So I in turn gave an example where it is normalized in our world. 

Quote

This is a bunch of nonsense. You can try to simply define away everything you don't like, but that doesn't change the reality around you. Most people are normal, some people are not. Most people are not normal in some way, but that doesn't make them less normal in other ways. The people who are abnormal in significant ways will continue to be abnormal in significant ways even when you put them next to others who are abnormal in less significant ways.

If you really want to get technical, our sole reason for existing is a mutation. Because ancestor upon ancestor upon ancestor, a bunch were "not normal" and thereby were more successful in a given environment and then bred to become dominant. And then another "not normal" mutation came along, and that became dominant because it was more successful in the given environment. So splitting straws aside, "normal" is purely and completely subjective based on your location in both space and time. 

 

edit: actually continuing on that premise, then being "normal" is nothing more than being successful and thriving in a given environment. Which someone missing a leg or with a mental condition can be perfectly capable of.

Edited by Pathfinder
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An accurate portrayal of mental health issues means there's no consequences? 

5 minutes ago, Rainier said:

This is a bunch of nonsense. You can try to simply define away everything you don't like, but that doesn't change the reality around you. Most people are normal, some people are not. Most people are not normal in some way, but that doesn't make them less normal in other ways. The people who are abnormal in significant ways will continue to be abnormal in significant ways even when you put them next to others who are abnormal in less significant ways.

You omitted the section of my quote that was most relevant. What is considered "normal" is all based on social acceptability and comfort. 

We have a culture in many places were an unhealthy relationship with alcohol is prevalent and accepted. It's normal. That doesn't make it any less harmful, and yet there's rarely an uproar until people cross a line into outright self destructive behavior. 

Why is addiction socially acceptable at a level that it's not harmful? It's still not "healthy" in the sense that people are using the word in this thread. In fact on top of the mental health issues there are actual physical health consequences as well. But no one is made uncomfortable by it. 

11 minutes ago, Rainier said:

Of course not, because you oppose the very idea of normality as some kind of postmodern deconstruction of...what exactly? What is the big deal with saying this is normal, that is not, when it's so obvious that one person per brain is normal, and three people per brain is not?

What I'm saying is that throughout history what is normal has shifted by time and culture. Some mental conditions that we view negatively are viewed favorably in other cultures. And in those cultures the people with the condition not only fare better, but their symptoms occur in less harmful ways in general. 

We get to choose what normal is as a society, and that choice has actual consequences. My "postmodern deconstruction" is all about promoting actual mental health instead of sweeping issues under the rug and pretending they aren't there. Because in most western countries that's how it's treated. 

Not wanting to face the problems doesn't make them go away, it makes them worse, and the insistence that people can't function in a healthy manner unless the issues disappear completely is a direct symptom of wanting to ignore them instead of facing our own discomfort. 

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Posted (edited)

A post and its replies have been removed for Code of Conduct violations.

EDIT: There's no reason for anyone to get heated; we are having fun talking about books we like. Please see: 

Edited by Chaos
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57 minutes ago, Calderis said:

What I'm saying is that throughout history what is normal has shifted by time and culture. Some mental conditions that we view negatively are viewed favorably in other cultures. And in those cultures the people with the condition not only fare better, but their symptoms occur in less harmful ways in general. 

We get to choose what normal is as a society, and that choice has actual consequences. My "postmodern deconstruction" is all about promoting actual mental health instead of sweeping issues under the rug and pretending they aren't there. Because in most western countries that's how it's treated. 

I think you are conflating two different, very distinct ideas under the umbrella term "normal"

1. The very generic, broadly applied idea of what society considers to be proper behavior, or viewpoints, acceptable language, etc etc

2. The mathematical concept of "normal", which involves the distribution of possible outcomes for a given data point, which can be used to predict the likeliness of the occurrence of different values along a distribution curve (yes the bell)

How we as a society view and treat individuals who have medical conditions that cause them to fall outside of expected social behaviors and etiquette certainly falls under the first consideration. I think your points about historical treatments of said individuals have merit within this context.

HOWEVER

Mental health disorders are not socially created conditions. They are medically created conditions. They exists as a consequence of biological factors responding to a variety of stimuli, and to varying degrees within an individual. Medical disorders are identified by using the second consideration of the operative word "normal". Medical conditions are derived by observation of available data within populations, they are not imposed socially. You can plot a data set in order to assist in determining whether there is something that is ailing a person by identifying a normative distribution. So if we were to see an adult human male in society who was, let's say, 3ft tall (that's 91cm for most of the world), you could look at a distribution of the normal height range for a human male and determine that this individual was on the extreme low end of this distribution. This is of course a natural occurrence, and it is possible that the distribution's data set is incomplete. Yet it could also indicate the existence of some medical condition that would merit investigation and study. Now, there is likely not anything that could be done to bring this person to a normative height (a "cure" so to speak), but that does not mean that they could not live a meaningful life at that height. However, that does not dismiss the existence of the normative distribution for human males for height, and neither is the normative distribution for human male height derived from socially constructed ideas. It is derived through observation of a population, with measurable data point.

Let's take another example. Let's plot a new data point: the number of arms humans are born with. Imagine the curve of this distribution. It would likely be a very steep one, with the middle being extremely tall and falling onto one outcome: 2. If we were to observe a human who was born with 1 or no arms, we would all likely agree that this was not a normative condition for a human being. This individual, again, would likely be stuck with this condition, as there is currently no cure, or at least nothing that could bring them the use of 2 fully biological human arms (maybe in the future using gene editing to turn on a "regrowth" mechanism). They would exist, they could live life (in modern society) as fully and successfully as they are able, and we as a society should all support that. It does not mean that 2 arms for a human being isn't the norm. I would suspect that if there did someday come a "cure" for that person to be given 2 fully working biological arms of their own that they would take it, over their current circumstances. (assuming they don't have a set of badass artificial arms that to them are far superior, who knows)

All right, so final example. How about we plot the number of distinct, individually thinking personalities a human exhibits. A normative distribution for this would likely be centered around 1. The strength of this norm would be determined by the sample size of the dataset, and how flat or steep the curve is when plotted. Now, as with our individual with the extremely variant height, an individual with multiple personalities may be no cause for concern, so long as that individual is not so impaired that they cannot function, and impairment is often used as a metric for whether an individual has a diagnosable mental health condition. However, in the instances where they are impaired, and they cannot function or operate in the world to their detriment, there are treatments and therapeutic techniques available to bring this individual's data point back within the normative distribution. Unlike regrowing an arm, or adding extra height, DID has documented cases of successfully addressing the trauma and reintegrating the personalities back to the 1. Not all cases will do this, perhaps not even most, but there is "technically" a cure available that can bring a person back into the normative distribution for number of personalities exhibited by a human being. Not all mental disorders have this available, such as various types of depression or anxiety, whose lifelong diagnosis are more often the result of chemical imbalances that must be managed with medication. DID, as far as I've been able to find, is trauma induced, not a factor of your genes, and has documented treatments available for a "cure". Where a cure is available, I would think most people would be interested in pursuing it.

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Posted (edited)

@DeployParachute I understand the difference and if we're speaking of "abnormal psychology" that is absolutely fine. What I'm speaking about is more societal perception and treatment of individuals with these problems. Yes in terms of medical variables this is not normal.

Where I draw issue is the idea that there is a "cure." 

There are treatments. There are drugs. There are therapies. For many this can result in reintigration, yes. For just as many it does not. 

For those that it does not, they have still sought treatment. They have still expended effort to better themselves and their condition. They have still improved and stabilized and become more functional.

And in many cases, despite that improvement, they are still ostracized because they are viewed as abnormal in the social sense, and not the medical sense.

And even for those who are "cured" that term is incorrect. They have reached a point that they have reintegrated and function within a normal (medical) range, but they will always have a dissociative disorder and the risk of relapse will never go away.

As long as people cannot tell the difference between a managed condition and a "cure" the stigma attached to someone of any mental condition that cannot reach a point of normal presentation will be treated as other. The is not an issue of abnormal psychology, but one of societal perception and acceptance. 

Anyone suffering from a mental health issue should seek treatment. That is not in doubt and I have never suggested otherwise. But these fears and stigma are a major contributor to why people avoid treatment in the first place. 

It's a stigma that creates a perception that it's better to feel like crap and deny your problems than it is to be labeled "crazy." which is why I will continue to say that this perception is actively harmful. 

Edited by Calderis
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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, DeployParachute said:

I think you are conflating two different, very distinct ideas under the umbrella term "normal"

1. The very generic, broadly applied idea of what society considers to be proper behavior, or viewpoints, acceptable language, etc etc

2. The mathematical concept of "normal", which involves the distribution of possible outcomes for a given data point, which can be used to predict the likeliness of the occurrence of different values along a distribution curve (yes the bell)

How we as a society view and treat individuals who have medical conditions that cause them to fall outside of expected social behaviors and etiquette certainly falls under the first consideration. I think your points about historical treatments of said individuals have merit within this context.

HOWEVER

Mental health disorders are not socially created conditions. They are medically created conditions. They exists as a consequence of biological factors responding to a variety of stimuli, and to varying degrees within an individual. Medical disorders are identified by using the second consideration of the operative word "normal". Medical conditions are derived by observation of available data within populations, they are not imposed socially. You can plot a data set in order to assist in determining whether there is something that is ailing a person by identifying a normative distribution. So if we were to see an adult human male in society who was, let's say, 3ft tall (that's 91cm for most of the world), you could look at a distribution of the normal height range for a human male and determine that this individual was on the extreme low end of this distribution. This is of course a natural occurrence, and it is possible that the distribution's data set is incomplete. Yet it could also indicate the existence of some medical condition that would merit investigation and study. Now, there is likely not anything that could be done to bring this person to a normative height (a "cure" so to speak), but that does not mean that they could not live a meaningful life at that height. However, that does not dismiss the existence of the normative distribution for human males for height, and neither is the normative distribution for human male height derived from socially constructed ideas. It is derived through observation of a population, with measurable data point.

Let's take another example. Let's plot a new data point: the number of arms humans are born with. Imagine the curve of this distribution. It would likely be a very steep one, with the middle being extremely tall and falling onto one outcome: 2. If we were to observe a human who was born with 1 or no arms, we would all likely agree that this was not a normative condition for a human being. This individual, again, would likely be stuck with this condition, as there is currently no cure, or at least nothing that could bring them the use of 2 fully biological human arms (maybe in the future using gene editing to turn on a "regrowth" mechanism). They would exist, they could live life (in modern society) as fully and successfully as they are able, and we as a society should all support that. It does not mean that 2 arms for a human being isn't the norm. I would suspect that if there did someday come a "cure" for that person to be given 2 fully working biological arms of their own that they would take it, over their current circumstances. (assuming they don't have a set of badass artificial arms that to them are far superior, who knows)

All right, so final example. How about we plot the number of distinct, individually thinking personalities a human exhibits. A normative distribution for this would likely be centered around 1. The strength of this norm would be determined by the sample size of the dataset, and how flat or steep the curve is when plotted. Now, as with our individual with the extremely variant height, an individual with multiple personalities may be no cause for concern, so long as that individual is not so impaired that they cannot function, and impairment is often used as a metric for whether an individual has a diagnosable mental health condition. However, in the instances where they are impaired, and they cannot function or operate in the world to their detriment, there are treatments and therapeutic techniques available to bring this individual's data point back within the normative distribution. Unlike regrowing an arm, or adding extra height, DID has documented cases of successfully addressing the trauma and reintegrating the personalities back to the 1. Not all cases will do this, perhaps not even most, but there is "technically" a cure available that can bring a person back into the normative distribution for number of personalities exhibited by a human being. Not all mental disorders have this available, such as various types of depression or anxiety, whose lifelong diagnosis are more often the result of chemical imbalances that must be managed with medication. DID, as far as I've been able to find, is trauma induced, not a factor of your genes, and has documented treatments available for a "cure". Where a cure is available, I would think most people would be interested in pursuing it.

I think based on my posts it is pretty readily apparent I like defined data as much as the next guy. It gives a basis in which to derive conclusions and mutual understanding from commonly agreed upon parameters. However, when considering data, the inherent fallacies must be taken into account, otherwise the conclusion produced becomes unusable. This becomes of even greater importance in regards to the social sciences. Bias, sample size, and distribution are huge factors. Now based on what you wrote, you are clearly knowledgeable, so please do not take me writing this as a means of educating you. I am sure you are more than well versed in it. Why I bring it up and wax on upon it is namely this:

Mental conditions overall are a widely unreported, misunderstood, and ostracized aspect of our species globally. The human mind being understood from a purely bio-mechanical perspective is still largely an unexplored realm that we are still seeking to understand, nonetheless the cognitive side. There are studies I could reference, but I will not due to the nature of what they involve (though I will include one below and spoiler it as for an example. If the moderators deem it too controversial, of course remove it as you deem fit, just know my intention was not to cause anything), that show results can be skewed due to a myriad of reasons, with society being one of the biggest impactors. 

 

(edit I removed the example as I believe the point still stands, and will change this to a better example that will potentially not be as controversial so as to avoid any issues just in case)

 

So in the example I gave, all because of a subculture within a group existed, the numbers for a purely biological in function agent were under reported, and skewed.

46.4 percent of adults in the United States alone will experience a mental condition in their life. One in four people in the world will be affected by a mental condition at some point in their life. And those are numbers regarding a topic that is still largely misunderstood, and under reported due to the social stigma associated with it. 

If "normal" is to be defined as prevalence/average (which personally I do not think that is the case, but if that is where you are directing your data), then with the properly funded resources, I do not think it is remotely outside reason to find out, mental conditions are in fact "the norm"

 

edit: here is a link to a study that I think discusses in a rather interesting, and (seems to me) non-controversial subject matter the consequence of over reporting normative practices versus the under reporting of counter normative practices due to societal and cultural pressures.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5639921/

 

edit 2: to clarify the study refers to "normative" and "counter- normative" is in regards to practices that are viewed favorably by a given culture or society. It is not to be taken literally as "normal" versus "not normal"

Edited by Pathfinder
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@Pathfinder thank you for everything you've brought into this thread. 

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10 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

This also begs the question, is Brandon going to create a sympathetic sociopathic character?

MB spoilers

Spoiler

That is what Kelseir is.

10 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

What about a highly functioning narcissist?

MB and Warbreaker

Spoiler

That could also be Kelseir but we have also seen Amaram and to some degree Vivenna

10 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

What about a character with uncontrollable impulsive thoughts?

MB spoiler

Spoiler

Zane(although not perfectly IMO although he clearly is a victim)

10 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

it seems like people with DID have some similar common alters, one of which is an alter frozen in childhood.  In pursuit of a realistic depiction of the condition, this alter might be added to Shallan's multiplicity, and from a narrative stand point that is just horrible. Having a major character switch basically to the mind frame of a child while in the midst of a bloody, grisly war (definitely an adult situation) would be awful. But if he doesn't include a child alter than is he really accurately depicting the condition or is this just the Hollywood narrative device version of the condition?

People are different.  Littles are common as are protectors but neither are universal.  No law states that alters have to follow specific rules.  So to answer your question no.  Brandon does not need to add a little.  Some systems with DID don't have them.  Shallan could be one such system.  It would not be inaccurate.

10 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

Also, I don't like the implications for the narrative, because Shallan has this condition and isn't just trapped in a confusing web of self delusions, it pretty much rules her out of the running for Odium's champion. Brandon's hands will be tied in what he can do with Shallan because he will want her to be a sympathetic character, which necessarily limits the range of the possibilities for her character progression.

I respect your desires concerning Brandon's choices but I do not understand why Shallan's development limits her.  Isn't it the other way around?  As she develops newer possibilities open.  Shallan could actually do a lot of damage as Odium's champion.  I never thought it was particularly likely in any case.  Lightweavers make terrible henchmen most of the time.  We are too adaptable and unpredictable to manage easily.  Unless you make us a true believer its not going to work out.

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5 hours ago, Calderis said:

@DeployParachute I understand the difference and if we're speaking of "abnormal psychology" that is absolutely fine. What I'm speaking about is more societal perception and treatment of individuals with these problems. Yes in terms of medical variables this is not normal.

Where I draw issue is the idea that there is a "cure." 

There are treatments. There are drugs. There are therapies. For many this can result in reintigration, yes. For just as many it does not. 

For those that it does not, they have still sought treatment. They have still expended effort to better themselves and their condition. They have still improved and stabilized and become more functional.

And in many cases, despite that improvement, they are still ostracized because they are viewed as abnormal in the social sense, and not the medical sense.

And even for those who are "cured" that term is incorrect. They have reached a point that they have reintegrated and function within a normal (medical) range, but they will always have a dissociative disorder and the risk of relapse will never go away.

As long as people cannot tell the difference between a managed condition and a "cure" the stigma attached to someone of any mental condition that cannot reach a point of normal presentation will be treated as other. The is not an issue of abnormal psychology, but one of societal perception and acceptance. 

Anyone suffering from a mental health issue should seek treatment. That is not in doubt and I have never suggested otherwise. But these fears and stigma are a major contributor to why people avoid treatment in the first place. 

It's a stigma that creates a perception that it's better to feel like crap and deny your problems than it is to be labeled "crazy." which is why I will continue to say that this perception is actively harmful. 

I don't really think we disagree much in terms of how we should view individuals suffering from mental disorders, or how still too often society still deals with these individuals in ways that are ostracizing, insensitive, and ignorant. I am intimately familiar with this in my own personal life,

What inspired me to respond to your post originally was comments you made that seemed to suggest that society and culture themselves are what control what is considered a mental illness and that if we could only just change how people view what is normal around them, then mental illness itself becomes normal to the point where the claim that they are illnesses at are is debatable. As if extreme debilitating and persistent depression wouldn't be a problem for individuals if we could just find a society or culture on the planet where such a thing would be seen as a benefit rather than a detriment. After reading your response, I don't think I read into your point accurately the first time, and I don't think you were trying to make that case any longer, so I'm glad we had the exchange. 

Your response regarding what truly constitutes a "cure" has the makings of an interesting philosophical discussion, especially when you apply it to physical ailment as well. What does cure mean? If I come down with the flu, and then recover, I am "cured" of that, however this does not preclude me from getting sick with the flu in the future. If I break a bone, and it is set and healed over time, I am still subject to the possibility that the bone can break again. In fact, i may be more at risk for subsequent breaks due to having already broken it. I suppose an even better analogous physical medical condition to mental illness would be cancer and remission. I suppose one could make the argument that just like physical illnesses, mental illness can also fall onto a spectrum of acute and chronic. Perhaps whether a mental illness is "curable" vs "managed" would correlate to where it falls onto said spectrum. I do not know where DID would fall, but could only make assumptions at this time.

Personally, I would say that a better description to use for "cure" would be  bringing the physical or mental state back towards an equilibrium where the individual can conduct most normal human functions in order to operate successfully in the physical world. Life is a constant trial in moving in and out of this state of equilibrium. Functionality is key, and there are certainly illnesses or ailments that will permanently alter what equilibrium looks like for the remainder of their lifespan. However I would still argue that this does not mean that there isn't an optimum human equilibrium that fits the world on the human timescale (evolutionary timescale is another matter).

Which brings me to

4 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

46.4 percent of adults in the United States alone will experience a mental condition in their life. One in four people in the world will be affected by a mental condition at some point in their life. And those are numbers regarding a topic that is still largely misunderstood, and under reported due to the social stigma associated with it. 

If "normal" is to be defined as prevalence/average (which personally I do not think that is the case, but if that is where you are directing your data), then with the properly funded resources, I do not think it is remotely outside reason to find out, mental conditions are in fact "the norm"

Take "mental condition" and replace it with any number of physical ailments, and you can make the same argument. Mental illness is not special in this way. Just because a disease or injury is common, and likely to happen to you through the course of your life, does NOT mean the state of the disease itself is a  optimum state for the human body. And just like physical illnesses, mental illness may be a temporary deviation from an existing equilibrium (acute/treated), or a permanent altering of what their equilibrium is (chronic/managed). My usage of normative distribution examples was not an attempt to determine likelihood of illness or its prevalence in a population, but to illustrate how it can be used identify and categorize potential illnesses, as well as set some baselines to build potential treatment plans on. We set a lot of baseline markers for what physical equilibrium means for the human body to assist in medical treatment: temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels etc. I don't see the human mind any different. It may be exponentially more complicated, and exponentially more uncertain, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist, and that we shouldn't make attempts to find them. 

Again, the existence of mental disorders within the population may be (and likely is) the norm, but that does not mean that remaining ill is desirable. So to bring it full circle: there may be other individuals on Roshar who are suffering from DID, but that does not mean that Shallan should not seek treatment to bring her to a more optimal equilibrium. We could have the discussion of whether we think her current 3 alter state is her new equilibrium, one that she has to work to manage and maintain, We can even have the discussion on whether having 3 distinct personalities is in fact the most optimal equilibrium. I personally do not think it is, as I believe re-integration to be the most optimal. However I'm open to persuasion on that.

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I was persuaded by conversations with/watching videos with people who have DID, and I was surprised at how re-integration didn't seem to be a goal at all. My view of re-integration before and after looking up real lived experience are very different. Before, I assumed re-integration was the goal for everyone with the disorder. Now, I get the impression it's something that most people live with and treat as part of their normal existence. (There was a youtube video Karger linked earlier in the thread, which I thought was really interesting and eye-opening.) I suspect that part of the difference here is that most people with DID whose personal stories I have learned about have had alters since childhood, whereas we only see it in Shallan as an adult - and Veil and Radiant developed very quickly. This is why I personally think of what Shallan has as being DID-adjacent rather than DID itself - as I've learned recently, DID is not the only disorder where a person can develop a plurality. This is something I was persuaded on when I looked away from the DSM and treatment manuals to trying to find real-life folks who have DID and how they talk about it. I ended up re-evaluating (1) how often it even happens that irl people with DID can achieve re-integration, (2) whether it's even a plausible reality for them to achieve and (3) whether it was even a good goal for everybody who has DID.

"Remaining ill", I think, is a very specific and negative way of framing Shallan's alters that I can't agree with. Shallan's illness stems from trauma. Whether she could be diagnosed as having PTSD as related to her dissociative disorder(s), the trauma of her childhood is what is at the root of all of this. The alters' existence is not the source of the problem in and of themselves. Treating the trauma might not result in re-integration. Even if re-integration happens, it won't ensure that Shallan will never dissociate again. Re-integration wouldn't mean that Shallan is 100% okay and "normal" again. (I don't really want to get dragged down in definitions of "normal", so I'm just sticking the word in quotes and hope you understand my meaning.)

On a slight tangent here, even if Shallan never dissociated ever, she would still not be 100% okay in the way some might think of it. Childhood trauma is something that people have to deal with for the rest of their lives; healing is a spiral, not a straightforward upwards trajectory. Part of the healing process for trauma is accepting that one will never be the same person again. Shallan will never again be the same person she was before the Bad Thing happened.

People with trauma and/or mental disorders don't have them go away. These things are for life. Trauma and mental disorders can be managed, and coping strategies can be learned and improved on, and medication can assist quality of life, and therapy can help people process - but they will never 100% disappear. It feels unfair for the people living with these to have the definition of "healthy" or "normal" be reserved for being issue-free. I believe that is the reason for pushback to the idea that Shallan needs to re-integrate in order to be healthy, as if she would be "healthy" without the alters - it feels incredibly bitter on the other side for folks who don't get to claim the "I'm healthy and have no mental issues" label.

It's not a binary of healthy vs. unhealthy. Functional is something to strive for. Working towards a better quality of life is something to strive for. Facing trauma and healing from it is something to strive for. Healthy is relative.

Is there any reason, any actual reason, to get rid of the alters? What are they doing that is making Shallan's life worse? What are they doing that make it difficult for her to get through a day? When I challenged myself with this, I couldn't come up with anything other than that the idea of it scared me, and if she could just heal from her trauma and stop depending on them, she'd be fine again. But that's just not how it works.

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25 minutes ago, Greywatch said:

It feels unfair for the people living with these to have the definition of "healthy" or "normal" be reserved for being issue-free. I believe that is the reason for pushback to the idea that Shallan needs to re-integrate in order to be healthy, as if she would be "healthy" without the alters - it feels incredibly bitter on the other side for folks who don't get to claim the "I'm healthy and have no mental issues" label.

This. So much of this. 

It's infuriating. And why I keep reiterating that the stigma towards it, and the general attitude of "but it's not normal so if it doesn't go away it's unhealthy" has far more to do with the comfort of the people observing than it does with the health and stability of the person actually suffering the condition, and negates the progress that they've worked so hard to achieve. 

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Calderis said:

This. So much of this. 

It's infuriating. And why I keep reiterating that the stigma towards it, and the general attitude of "but it's not normal so if it doesn't go away it's unhealthy" has far more to do with the comfort of the people observing than it does with the health and stability of the person actually suffering the condition, and negates the progress that they've worked so hard to achieve. 

There's a difference between functional and healthy. Having multiple people in one mind doesn't have to be crippling. It may not always be possible - or indispensable - to heal it. But it is still something to be talked about in terms of healing. If it was someone with a physical chronic condition, I don't think we'd have much misunderstanding here. Such person may take medicine that let them lead a completely normal life and yet will never be considered completely healthy because they still need that medicineAn alcoholic also will always be an alcoholic even if they never have a beer in their life again, because that unhealthy coping mechanism is still in their psyche and if they did have that one beer they could spiral down again so quickly.

There's also a difference between stigmatizing and acknowledging something as unhealthy. Is it fair to treat that someone with chronic condition or that someone who got out of alcoholism as if they were a ticking bomb, refuse to employ them or be friends with them? No. But it also doesn't mean we should try to persuade the first one to stop taking their medicine because "they seem completely fine and surely don't need it" or invite the second one to a night of heavy drinking. This is what treating them as healthy would mean!

So, in terms of Shallan, I think she'll reintegrate but it won't be all sunshine and unicorns either. She'll still be at heavy risk of splitting again at any moment. Given another difficult moment her alters will start peeking out again, only she'll be better equipped to get out of that sooner. 

Edited by Ailvara
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I'm not sure I completely get what everyone else is saying about this subject and normalcy but here's what I think on Shallan. Sorry in advance for the likely to be poor formatting.

 

A lot of characters, especially main characters, have very deep issues in stormlight and to me a core theme of the series is accepting and moving on(?) from them. What looks like the main villain keeps trying to make people refuse to acknowledge their issues and pain, which I think is a very big tell. Dalinar in OB is a clear example of this for me. He acknowledged his own past and accepted his sins and pain as his own, which in my opinion led to his "healing" in the sense that he became a better person and is now much more functional. Kaladin is someone who has a big tendency towards depression and we are seeing him try to live with it. We see that in the ending of OB he does get better, both in letting go of his vengeance to protect someone he cares about and when he looks at a rock like Tien did. He is not there yet in accepting everything and completely managing his issues, but the story reads like he's on his way. In fact one of his problems is the opposite of what Odium would want, he cares too much about everything and has a hard time accepting those emotions of pain and loss, instead of giving them away he makes them his own even when they aren't.

 

I view Shallan in a similar way to these two. While we don't fully know what happened when she was a kid and killer her mother we do know that she hasn't accepted all the truth of her childhood. She spent a lot of time refusing to acknowledge her pain and issues and kept trying to put on masks for her brothers. There's the Shallan mask she normally uses, the witty one. Then when forced by her oaths to accept parts of what she did she doubles down on not accepting them, which makes her crack even more and pushes her on a downward spiral. This makes her create two new masks, both created to fit very specific needs. I keep saying masks but maybe it'd be more appropriate to say they are facets of her, since I believe they are all part of Shallan as a whole, just fragmented to fit whatever she needs the most and ignore what she doesn't want to see. In RoW we see that pattern keeps pushing her to accept her truth even when she clearly doesn't want to, which hopefully will lead to her accepting her feelings and pain, accepting herself for what she is and healing as much as she can. I think no one will disagree that having your psyche fragmented isn't something positive and for her particular case even in RoW she's still doubting that "she" has control of what's going on. To me her path looks like she's on her way to face the truth and heal, which hopefully will lead to her becoming a United personality again. Like posters before me have said sometimes the damage done is too deep and the way to move forward and live is to accept the multiple personalities, since irl(I think, don't quote me on this) actually letting go of the personalities is so hard that it's often not even a goal when talking about treatment.

 

P.D. It's worth noting how the Radiant associated with creationspren was the one to "create" new personas

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Posted (edited)

18 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

high functioning narcissist,

Raise your hands if you thought of Gavilar here

15 hours ago, Greywatch said:

Yes, absolutely. She has always had a dissociative disorder, even before the alters "arrived." Her dissociation existed since childhood, and the alters' existence are just another type of dissociation when forced to remember something she wasn't ready for (her end of WoR moment).

Agreed I think the Shallan that lashes out at Tyn when cornered may be seen as an alter ego of hers only. 
With Jasnah, the maskShallan, did not even think of her Shardblade. Later she begins to think of it but burrows it deep. 

Also I am not sure where I stand on this issue but in the row released ch 7 : 

Quote

We didn’t do this, Veil thought. We decided not to kill her, right?

I… Shallan’s mind began to fuzz, everything feeling blurry. Had she done this? She’d wanted to. But she hadn’t, had she? She was… was more in control than that.

I didn’t do it, Shallan thought. She was reasonably certain.

So what happened? Radiant asked.

Really makes me doubt that Shallan is on a path towards recovery. This made me doubt her claims that thr three have achieved stability or atleast that the balance is extremely fragile.

 

 

Quote
18 hours ago, Pathfinder said:
Edited by The Traveller
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Posted (edited)

20 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

In watching the video linked by @Karger above, it seems like people with DID have some similar common alters, one of which is an alter frozen in childhood. In pursuit of a realistic depiction of the condition, this alter might be added to Shallan's multiplicity, and from a narrative stand point that is just horrible. Having a major character switch basically to the mind frame of a child while in the midst of a bloody, grisly war (definitely an adult situation) would be awful. But if he doesn't include a child alter than is he really accurately depicting the condition or is this just the Hollywood narrative device version of the condition?

Actually, that seems narratively plausible, and could be the device used to show Shallan's past before she killed her mother.

Edited by Honorless
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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, Calderis said:

@Pathfinder thank you for everything you've brought into this thread. 

No problem. I will continue to endeavor to speak upon the topic with respect and consideration. 

10 hours ago, DeployParachute said:

What inspired me to respond to your post originally was comments you made that seemed to suggest that society and culture themselves are what control what is considered a mental illness and that if we could only just change how people view what is normal around them, then mental illness itself becomes normal to the point where the claim that they are illnesses at are is debatable. As if extreme debilitating and persistent depression wouldn't be a problem for individuals if we could just find a society or culture on the planet where such a thing would be seen as a benefit rather than a detriment. After reading your response, I don't think I read into your point accurately the first time, and I don't think you were trying to make that case any longer, so I'm glad we had the exchange. 

I do not want to speak on Calderis's behalf and thereby put words in his mouth, but I believe the defining difference in this case is this:

Since we have been using other conditions as analogies, I think I found a rather apt one, though to be clear I am in no way shape or form implying that mental conditions are diseases.

Let us take the common cold. Once upon a time getting a cold was lethal. Hence the saying "catch your death of cold". At the time the nature of it was misunderstood. Caring for it ran a gambit of effective to utterly ineffective remedies. People assumed it was due to the temperature. When it is cold outside, people got sick and died. So dress warm when you go out or you will catch your death of cold. And at the time, you could literally die. Now we know you can catch a cold in the summer just as much as in the winter. The reason for the propensity in winter is due to people being in close proximity, in doors, with circulated air.

So you have an illness, that due to misunderstanding in how it functions, colors the way a society views and treats it. Individuals with it, act in ways that the society perceives as positive and acceptable due to the misunderstanding, and thereby spread it potentially harming others. And that is concerning a circumstance that is readily recognizable, clearly affects a large portion, and the accepted treatment is reinforced positively/accepted. It took years before washing your hands in a hospital and later germ theory even became an accepted practice. 

But now let us take mental conditions (I say condition because I cannot recall what is the current preferred terminology). Not only is it misunderstood, but there is a stigma associated with it. Some examples include:

 

Depression: "Oh get over it already. You are such a downer"

Anxiety: "Why do you always have to be so overly emotional? Jeez take a chill pill"

Schizophrenia: "Yikes, please don't kill me"

Dissociative Identity Disorder: "Are any of your alters dangerous? Should I be scared for my safety?"

Autism: "Oh my god, why can't you just get what I am saying and act normal? Why do you have to be so weird?"

 

These are all very ignorant and hurtful statements, but these views are very prevalent in our society. It is a form of victim blaming. Because the condition is not visible and "in the mind", then the individual is just weak willed and should "get over it". That is why, I am not sure if you have seen, but there are posts and memes going around that show people treating physical injuries the way people treat mental conditions. So for instance:

 

Cold: "Have you just tried not being so sick? Maybe if you try harder, it will go away"

Broken Foot: "Jeez, whining about the pain again? How much longer do I have to hear about your foot being broken? Why can't you just go out and walk like everyone else?

Stabbing: "Maybe if you go out and push through the pain, it will go away"

 

Now of course these examples are hyperbolic, but it is presented that way for a reason. The condition is seen as the individual's fault. If they aren't "normal", then its just because they aren't trying hard enough in therapy. It is something to be "fixed" or "solved. But right now we don't know enough to understand how it works nonetheless "fix" these conditions. We don't even know enough to fully determine that these conditions really are "aberrations" or "negative" in the classical sense. There are studies that theorize for instance that anxiety is connected to human's flight or fight response. That individuals that suffer from anxiety would have been very successful back during "cave man" times because they would react better, or have increased response times to dangerous stimuli. That their brains were hardwired for survival, but because society and culture has changed, what once one a survival imperative, is now seen as a "freak". There are studies researching that pathogens in cats infect their human care givers altering the brain chemistry resulting in the owners being more responsive to the cats. The pathogen benefits because its desirability in the feline species perpetuates its existence, and the cats benefit in getting what they want more from their owners. There are studies researching the effect on fungus and pathogens on animals that effect their brain chemistry to do anything from overtly mind controlling the host (ants climbing high on a plant so they are eaten by birds, so the fungus can further propagate in the bird's gut), to more subtle cues changing an individual's tastes in food. There are proven cases and research done on individuals that due to a tumor pushing on a portion of the brain, or an injury resulting in the development of a different accent (an irishman speaking with a US southern twang) despite having never visited the country, or seeing colors that the brain never registered before and creating beautiful works of art never before imagined. 

 Which is why the missing limb example was used prior in this thread. We don't have a "cure" for that. We are certainly researching and trying to find ways to transplant whole limbs, regrow tissue, or provide fully articulated mind manipulated prosthesises. But plain and simple the best we got right now is means of managing the situation. We have tension strips of metal that provide support and bounce for a runner to jog. We have hooks, that have opposable protrusions that can be manipulated with the extension and retraction of the arm to mimic the grasping capabilities of the human hand. We have ramps be required by law so they are wheelchair accessible. We have a new controller for xbox that can be customized to allow individuals with a wide range of disabilities to play video games of various levels of complexity like anyone else. 

The message being just because of something beyond your control, does not change that you are a human being just as capable and deserving as anyone else. That you can have a conversation with someone walking down the sidewalk, and not feel embarrassed or worry the person is going to sigh or be annoyed because the curb is to high and you will need help being rolled down it. No, you have a gentle incline, so you can roll down it yourself, and continue your conversation like nothing happened. Because nothing did happen. You are living your life just like everyone else. You condition did not define nor limit that exchange. Your condition still existed, and so did you.

Which I believe is what the ultimate point everyone is trying to make here. Saying that Shallan still being the three, but the alters being balanced and working together is an acceptable goal is not saying "hey we should all have DID! Those therapists are useless. Having multiple alters is cool! Totally avoid getting help, you don't need it!". It to me, is saying that Shallan can live a conducive and successful life with friends, family, and a love interest and still have alters. That a mental condition does not have to be "cured" for a person to live a conducive and successful life. 

Mental conditions are far more prevalent than is given credit, and it is due to social and cultural alienation that they are under-reported and under-treated. Acceptance does not negate treatment. It makes the condition more visible, and seeking treatment more viable and encouraged. Wouldn't it be a sight to behold that mental health was treated almost like a gym membership? You drop by your local place weekly for a check in on your mental health, and you are applauded for keeping in touch with your feelings, concerns, and personal well being? What kind of effect something like that would have. Instead of being told to suck it up and get over it, the person feels heard and understood. 

(disclaimer: just want to make clear I am not saying you at any point claimed people with mental conditions should suck it up and get over. I was attempting to clarify the points being made, and distinguish what I believe to be a false correlation between acceptance of the existence and prevalence of mental conditions, with saying treatment should not be sought. Hopefully I did not ramble too much, and I will periodically go over what I typed to tweak over the next few minutes. Also I did not reply to the other points you made in this post as I feel my response here potentially covered them all)

Edited by Pathfinder
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Shallan has claimed since WoR that her true self was a shattered, mute little girl lying in the dark, hasn't she? That could serve as her "child" alter in the light of going full DID and it could be argued that it didn't speak up until now because it is, well, mute.

@hoiditthroughthegrapevine:

The "Odium's champion" plot is done after OB, surely? And if Kaladin's depression doesn't make him less interesting by "insulating (him) from outcomes", why should Shallan's DID?

Mind, I didn't like Shallan's personas in OB and also impatiently expected reintegration, but I like much better how things work in RoW so far and wouldn't be disappointed by a well-done equilibrium.

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