Wittless

Veil,Shallan, Radiant

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Okay so take this with a grain of salt. It’s been a min since I read oathbringer and I am just now starting ROW. Am I the only one that is made uncomfortable by the split personality disorder that Shallan has and Adolin seems to just go along with?? I think it was briefly addressed in Oathbringer but it super weirds me out. So like in real life people adopt digger t faces to help them succeed in different social environments but at the end of the day they are still themselves. For example you behave one way at work, one way for your kids, and another for close friends. We can extend that to undercover cops etc where they are playing a role but healthily where they aren’t a completely different person. My point g is that in the book Shallan never just I’d identifies as Shallan and instead it seems like Veil and Radiant are genuinely different people that can take control at any time where Shallan has no control over what happens. Anyone care to jump in on this??

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17 hours ago, Wittless said:

Okay so take this with a grain of salt. It’s been a min since I read oathbringer and I am just now starting ROW. Am I the only one that is made uncomfortable by the split personality disorder that Shallan has and Adolin seems to just go along with?? I think it was briefly addressed in Oathbringer but it super weirds me out. So like in real life people adopt digger t faces to help them succeed in different social environments but at the end of the day they are still themselves. For example you behave one way at work, one way for your kids, and another for close friends. We can extend that to undercover cops etc where they are playing a role but healthily where they aren’t a completely different person. My point g is that in the book Shallan never just I’d identifies as Shallan and instead it seems like Veil and Radiant are genuinely different people that can take control at any time where Shallan has no control over what happens. Anyone care to jump in on this??

(Not sure if that counts as a RoW spoiler? Edit: Thread was moved.)

Welcome to the Shard!

I'd search up DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and OSDD-1b (Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder) for more information on that subject! It's a real thing that happens.

Edited by Not an Ookla
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Thank you for the welcome. That was somewhat my point. Shallan a character has had a severe amount of trams but I don’t believe this behavior is encouraged in real life?? More seem as an issue that needs to be dealt with. For the books sake, especially a powerful individual who has conflicting personal interests but can’t seem to own her identity. Seems exquisitely dangerous, mentally unstable, but worst of all encouraged and normalized. 

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1 hour ago, Wittless said:

Seems exquisitely dangerous, mentally unstable, but worst of all encouraged and normalized. 

No. Just no.

You’re going to get better replies from people with more experience with DiD, and I apologize where the language I use isn’t what the people in any specific community would.

But framing any mental health condition that isn’t violent as “dangerous” isn’t a good call. Most people who would fit under a mental health diagnosis are in greater danger because of it, rather than being dangerous.

And presenting a real-world mental health condition as something normal for the people who deal with it is not “encouraging” any kind of behavior. It is presenting a condition as another facet of humanity so those of us who might not be exposed in real life have the opportunity to encounter it and possibly learn to be sensitive human beings, while those who are familiar with it get to see it represented.

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To be clear I’m only speaking of it through the context of what’s portrayed in the book. So in the book it is dangerous. As veil Shallan and radiant have conflicting desires where some of those are murderous. So if the only thing keeping you from killing someone is another distinct part of your personality, whereas other parts encourage it then that seems like a trait you would want to control. Moreover her behavior is accepted and normalized by other characters. I haven’t read a part yet where a character says “ hey you totally own all your decisions and maybe we should talk about why you feel the need to create 3 separate identities”

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…Really, follow @Not an Ookla’s advice.

3 hours ago, Wittless said:

So if the only thing keeping you from killing someone is another distinct part of your personality, whereas other parts encourage it then that seems like a trait you would want to control. Moreover her behavior is accepted and normalized by other characters. I haven’t read a part yet where a character says “ hey you totally own all your decisions and maybe we should talk about why you feel the need to create 3 separate identities”

You haven’t seen that part because nowhere does the book suggest Shallan is less responsible for her actions due to the different people she presents as. We don’t see anybody saying things aren’t her fault because Veil or Radiant did it, we just see Shallan fall back on them to avoid confronting realities about herself.

Did you have the same problem with a distinct part of Adolin’s personality (his desire to do the right thing, perhaps) being the only thing that kept him from killing Sadeas, up until he failed to control that trait (because he could momentarily convince himself that the cost of not killing Sadeas was too high)? 

From my understanding, the identities don’t remove responsibility, they enable actions – and living with said actions – that otherwise might not be psychologically possible to manage without them. Most of the time, they’re presented as a defense mechanism, for coping with or surviving trauma. They are an internal function, not one that removes external culpability, either in real life or in the book.

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The beginning of ROW with the death of 

Spoiler

Ialai Sadeas

seems to say otherwise.  Adolin only provides justification, he doesn't seek to dissociate himself from the act. Whereas Shallan can easily say that was Veil who did that. Moreover I fail to see the point plot wise. What is the point of 3 different identities? The reader understands its all Shallan, it seems she doesn't get this though lolol. I get that its pedantic at best, but it seems the goals of 3 different identities in one body will have tension. It's 100% a plot point I'm not interested in as its seems predictable. TBH Sanderson better have some movie magic at his disposable cause Shallans "3 girls 1 body" and Kaladins "I'm a battle hardened veteran but went into the BLACK and let the king die cause I feel bad" conflict with the characters CHARACTER and BACKGROUND. 

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16 hours ago, Wittless said:

Thank you for the welcome. That was somewhat my point. Shallan a character has had a severe amount of trams but I don’t believe this behavior is encouraged in real life?? More seem as an issue that needs to be dealt with. For the books sake, especially a powerful individual who has conflicting personal interests but can’t seem to own her identity. Seems exquisitely dangerous, mentally unstable, but worst of all encouraged and normalized. 

Hello. Actually plural person here. No. 

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Care to expand? Not sure if you are saying that is you irl? if so would you mind telling me your experience?

 

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I don’t like it, I feel like it restricts Shallan’s potential, and it is just weird.

Also, there are 8 staff members viewing this post

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Posting an opinion from another topic that seems relevant here:

Quote

I think Brandon has done a MASTERFUL job with Shallan, showing in a very organic way how our memories are fluid, imperfect... ESPECIALLY memories from childhood.  We knew she didn't remember things, was repressing things.  Then comes a realization, bringing a clearer picture... but eventually THAT gets shattered by another breakthrough, and the picture changes again.  And all the while, everything is wrapped in feelings of guilt, shame, and self-hatred.  From what I've seen, this is very much how the recovery and integration of traumatic childhood memories often happens.

I have years of personal experience: someone in my life deals with both repression of childhood trauma and Dissociative Identity (I don't even like the term "disorder" here, it's an amazingly effective coping mechanism).  Please try to be thoughtful and respectful.  What you are saying can be taken as "it's uncomfortable for me to have to read about this VERY REAL thing that some people go through".  It's fine to say "I'm uncomfortable," as long as you realize that doesn't give you the right to criticize or judge other people's experiences.  I find it extremely inclusive and empowering to see "heroes" in fiction who are not only not perfect in every way, but struggle with REAL problems that have not been represented before in fantasy.

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So let me be as clear as I can be. I would never assume to judge, criticize, etc. etc. especially about a condition I have no experience with and don't know much about. My concern lies within the confines of the story as it seems the condition is being misrepresented. Would you say so? My first thought was of The Act and how her bf has separate personalities and kills her mom(Real Life) So by extension in ROW personalities that are specifically defined as "not Shallan" wanting to engage in murderous behavior.

So lets say I accept that as "ok part of the book" My next issue is that no one questions this. They just seem to say its totally fine.

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2 hours ago, Wittless said:

Care to expand? Not sure if you are saying that is you irl? if so would you mind telling me your experience?

 

That is me IRL and yes, I would mind. Google is free. 

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@Wittless If you're curious about the experiences of plural readers and how they read Shallan and her role as representation, there's a few good threads discussing this already. The Winter System started one here that had some good responses on this topic: 

 

I am singlet (not-plural) myself, but will say I think you are getting some more brusque responses because some of the things you've said regarding the story and plurality are close to some of the more harmful ideas about it, even though I assume that was not your intent. Things like saying that you find this weird or uncomfortable, or that it's "an issue that needs to be dealt with" or that plurality is "dangerous" are harmful stereotypes, and the people who are affected by these things are understandably upset. 

One of the criticisms in that thread of Shallan's arc was that it ended in integration, and while some systems see integration as a goal, others prefer to find stability amongst themselves, and having Shallan persist as a stable system in a loving relationship would have been very good positive representation for plurality. I found that very interesting, as it wasn't something I'd thought about, as a singlet, but I could see the point that was made in that, it made sense. There's plenty of cheap horror portrayals of plurality where "gasp, a 'normal' person some of the time, and a crazy murderer others! how frightening and terrible!" but there's plenty of actual plural systems out there living their lives as normal people and when their only representation is as a horror monster, well... obviously that's a pretty bad thing. 

Anyway, I'd encourage you to read that thread, and some of the others that are around on this topic, and also just read online about the experiences of real plural systems if you want to know more. I'd encourage you to be careful about the way you phrase things and remember that there are real people out there with similar experiences to Shallan's when you talk and ask about her storyline. That's good advice anywhere, but it's especially important for things like this. 

I hope that helps!

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On 1/10/2021 at 6:38 PM, Wittless said:

I would never assume to judge, criticize, etc. etc. especially about a condition I have no experience with and don't know much about.

Let me be clear: that is exactly what you are doing. You literally dismiss Kaladin freezing in an apparent PTSD-caused dissociative reaction to trauma as “feeling bad.”

On 1/10/2021 at 1:08 PM, Wittless said:

TBH Sanderson better have some movie magic at his disposable cause Shallans "3 girls 1 body" and Kaladins "I'm a battle hardened veteran but went into the BLACK and let the king die cause I feel bad" conflict with the characters CHARACTER and BACKGROUND

One of the many ways PTSD can present, this sort of overwhelming flashback is, in fact, much more common among battle-hardened veterans than among civilians. It is crippling and intrusive, and a perfectly normal and natural response to horrific experiences. Repeated exposure to trauma makes the human mind less able to cope with it, and more likely to be overwhelmed like this.

Likely because of this, someone with depression like Kaladin’s is also more likely to develop PTSD from combat experience or losing a patient, which makes this completely in-character as well as naturally developed from his surgical and combat background. 

You are even more explicitly judging and criticizing both real-world plural experiences, and the fictional depiction of Shallan’s plurality. And, while it’s not my area of expertise, Shallan’s very different dissociative response meshes with her background of childhood trauma, so this is again in character.

The way each of her identities turns out to encapsulate a part of her rather than being truly distinct may make her less relatable to some plurals. But it also makes her little different from other characters in the story (such as Dalinar as the Blackthorn) in the way she attributes her behaviors to different parts/versions of herself. She obviously still blames herself for things her other identities do, because she has to lock away memories behind Veil to avoid the guilt.

In other words, the other personas may be Shallan’s attempts to hide from the things she knows she has done, but she does not seek to escape responsibility using those personas.

Quote

And Shallan recognized everything she had done.

- RoW Ch. 93, Brandon Sanderson

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People seem to of intrepreted the OP wrong, at least imo.

Point she was making i believe, was up until OB, Shallan's only mental heath issue/problem was regressed memories from her childhood (which we still haven't had fully explained). Veil was just a persona, like a spy/undercover cop adopts a persona to infiltrate, whatever organisation it happens to be, but it is still just a persona not a seperate identity. Veil is not a coping mechamism for anything (up to OB), i think people forget this.

In OB Veil/Radiant take on distinct personalities, which is a distinct jump from WoK/WoR.

OP's point i believe was the fact everyone "just went along with this" and accepted it, and "worked around" it. Which as she pointed out, Shallan's position as not only a knight radiant,  but marrying into the Royal family of the Alethi as well as being very close to Dalinar who is the overall leader against the "Voidbringers", is a potentially dangerous position for some one developing that type of mental health issue to be in, and its just never addresssed, especially as i believe until RoW she has no memory of what the other personas do, and no control of when one comes to the surface.

We see in RoW others with mental health issues are just put in a dark room by the ardents, which makes the fact Shallan's issues are just accepted/ignored all the more implausible. 

The uncomfortable and weirding out part of the post, to me at least, reads that the acceptance and non addressing of the issue is what caused it not the mental health issue itself.

Returning to the OP saying Shallan could be extremely dangerous, we have evidence of a surgebinder with mental health issues being extremely dangerous, ie Nale and Ishar, so i feel the OP was unfairly "jumped on" about this.

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As to why everyone just went along with this, I think it's the normal way to react. I think that you are harming some people with the way you are expressing yourself out of ignorance on the subject (I don't mean to insult you, everyone is ignorant in different subjects). Just as you can't make someone who is sad happy by saying "don't be sad", nothing would change if someone told Shallan "hey you totally own all your decisions and maybe we should talk about why you feel the need to create 3 separate identities". It just wouldn't make sense because what is happening to her has nothing to do with reasoning, it has to do with feelings, emotions, trauma and a very complex psychological process. So, unless they are psychologists, the best thing everyone can do is accept that she is dealing with this and support her, not question her or make her feel even more insecure about herself. 

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On 1/14/2021 at 8:24 AM, Quick Ben said:

People seem to of intrepreted the OP wrong, at least imo.

Point she was making i believe, was up until OB, Shallan's only mental heath issue/problem was regressed memories from her childhood (which we still haven't had fully explained). Veil was just a persona, like a spy/undercover cop adopts a persona to infiltrate, whatever organisation it happens to be, but it is still just a persona not a seperate identity. Veil is not a coping mechamism for anything (up to OB), i think people forget this.

In OB Veil/Radiant take on distinct personalities, which is a distinct jump from WoK/WoR.

OP's point i believe was the fact everyone "just went along with this" and accepted it, and "worked around" it. Which as she pointed out, Shallan's position as not only a knight radiant,  but marrying into the Royal family of the Alethi as well as being very close to Dalinar who is the overall leader against the "Voidbringers", is a potentially dangerous position for some one developing that type of mental health issue to be in, and its just never addresssed, especially as i believe until RoW she has no memory of what the other personas do, and no control of when one comes to the surface.

We see in RoW others with mental health issues are just put in a dark room by the ardents, which makes the fact Shallan's issues are just accepted/ignored all the more implausible. 

The uncomfortable and weirding out part of the post, to me at least, reads that the acceptance and non addressing of the issue is what caused it not the mental health issue itself.

Returning to the OP saying Shallan could be extremely dangerous, we have evidence of a surgebinder with mental health issues being extremely dangerous, ie Nale and Ishar, so i feel the OP was unfairly "jumped on" about this.

Okay, maybe I will go into this a bit. 

Unrecognized plurality and recognized plurality manifest very differently. The symptoms are still there, but they're often recognized as shifts in mood, at least when it comes to OSDD-1b. Various headmates are still there, they just might not communicate with each other or recognize that they're separate from each other. She's not DID, she doesn't have the current gaps in memory. I think you might be underestimating how it's shown in WOR and WOK. Veil is an introject (a headmate based on an external source) that is based on "being a spy" but she wasn't nonexistent before, she just gained that identity and became more specific.  

 

Re: People being okay with it. They're likely understanding it as a Lightweaver thing, rather than a mental health thing. In addition, having her have an entire thing about being institutionalized even when people like Kaladin aren't would be really bad, representation wise. It would be a really bad experience to read and would feel -- would be -- being singled out. Those people are specifically people who can't function in society. They can. And it's actually really nice to see. I don't care about realism, I care about seeing people like me in healthy relationships and not being judged unfairly. 

Radiant killing someone is somewhat extreme, but it's not something that they all wouldn't have been willing to do. This is a setting with death and violence. Killing isn't something that's specific to her. 

- Nix

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2 hours ago, the winter system said:

In addition, having her have an entire thing about being institutionalized even when people like Kaladin aren't would be really bad, representation wise.

Thank you so much for the explaining about recognized and unrecognized plurality. No amount of reading can teach much as listening to real people, and I appreciate that you went out of your way to give us more information even though it can be draining to have to correct those of us who just don’t get it.

Spoiler

 

Honestly, the only thing you said that seems off to me is that quote’s premise. You’re still right about the rest, but I think what we saw with Noril suggests that people like Kaladin are institutionalized on Roshar, or at least in Alethkar. Which in no way negates how bad it would have been to have the main character example of one mental health status singled out to be subjected to the world’s usual response while the others weren’t. Especially bad for people who relate with Shallan.

You also are much better than I would be at remaining circumspect in addressing the way people are talking about this. And I have literally no personal connection to their topic beyond being a human being with my own issues and a desire to be more understanding. Brava.

I don’t get why some are suggesting a person is more dangerous for having Shallan’s mental health issues than, say, Dalinar’s long and psychopathic history of luxuriating in the Thrill. However, just because a person can function in society doesn’t mean they’re safe or they deserve power (Amaram in Oathbringer). Just because a person can’t function in society doesn’t mean they’re dangerous or incapable of wielding power well (Kaladin in RoW). Societies often reward questionable behaviors, like the way the Alethi reward aggressive warmongering and effective slaughtering

 

On 1/14/2021 at 8:24 AM, Quick Ben said:

Point she was making i believe, was up until OB, Shallan's only mental heath issue/problem was regressed memories from her childhood (which we still haven't had fully explained). Veil was just a persona, like a spy/undercover cop adopts a persona to infiltrate, whatever organisation it happens to be, but it is still just a persona not a seperate identity. Veil is not a coping mechamism for anything (up to OB), i think people forget this.

@the winter system excellently explains the real-world reasons this interpretation is mistaken. Many mental health conditions present differently before being acknowledged/diagnosed. And just because we might not have previously been explicitly told that Veil was a coping mechanism or that Shallan had more going on than repressed memories doesn’t mean it wasn’t already happening, and already being shown happening (if not as fleshed out at first) in-text.

On 1/14/2021 at 8:24 AM, Quick Ben said:

Shallan's position as not only a knight radiant,  but marrying into the Royal family of the Alethi as well as being very close to Dalinar who is the overall leader against the "Voidbringers", is a potentially dangerous position for some one developing that type of mental health issue to be in,

You seem to be suggesting that it’s weird people are working around Shallan’s issues, yet you don’t acknowledge that far greater mental and political gymnastics were required for dealing with numerous other characters – such as to enable Dalinar to work with Sadeas. Who actually proved to be dangerous.

Please explain what it is about Shallan’s particular mental health issues that makes her dangerous in her position. And how this sets her apart as an especial danger compared to people who are “merely” power-hungry, or calculating, or any number of other “normal” traits.

On 1/14/2021 at 8:24 AM, Quick Ben said:

Returning to the OP saying Shallan could be extremely dangerous, we have evidence of a surgebinder with mental health issues being extremely dangerous, ie Nale and Ishar,

It’s problematic in the extreme to suggest Nale or Ishar’s entirely different and unrelated mental health issues possibly making them too dangerous for their power means Shallan’s disparate mental health issues are likewise dangerous. Besides which, it’s even more problematic to assume that it’s their apparent insanities that made them dangerous. It’s like looking at everybody who isn’t within the reader’s definition, or acceptable radius of, normal as crazy, and conflating that with them being dangerous.

In reality, a lot of other characteristics – such as the Dark Triad of Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism – are highly predictive of a person being dangerous and unfit for power. Flashier mental health diagnoses like Shallan’s are not. In fact, it’s the progression of Nale (following the Law justifies any means) and Ishar (I am a god) along the Dark Triad axes that makes them, and their insanities, dangerous.

It’s explicitly only the Heralds who succumbed to the Dark Triad personality flaws who abused power to hurt untold numbers of people, even though none of the Heralds are sane.

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22 hours ago, Kyn said:

Thank you so much for the explaining about recognized and unrecognized plurality. No amount of reading can teach much as listening to real people, and I appreciate that you went out of your way to give us more information even though it can be draining to have to correct those of us who just don’t get it.

  Reveal hidden contents

 

Honestly, the only thing you said that seems off to me is that quote’s premise. You’re still right about the rest, but I think what we saw with Noril suggests that people like Kaladin are institutionalized on Roshar, or at least in Alethkar. Which in no way negates how bad it would have been to have the main character example of one mental health status singled out to be subjected to the world’s usual response while the others weren’t. Especially bad for people who relate with Shallan.

You also are much better than I would be at remaining circumspect in addressing the way people are talking about this. And I have literally no personal connection to their topic beyond being a human being with my own issues and a desire to be more understanding. Brava.

I don’t get why some are suggesting a person is more dangerous for having Shallan’s mental health issues than, say, Dalinar’s long and psychopathic history of luxuriating in the Thrill. However, just because a person can function in society doesn’t mean they’re safe or they deserve power (Amaram in Oathbringer). Just because a person can’t function in society doesn’t mean they’re dangerous or incapable of wielding power well (Kaladin in RoW). Societies often reward questionable behaviors, like the way the Alethi reward aggressive warmongering and effective slaughtering

 

@the winter system excellently explains the real-world reasons this interpretation is mistaken. Many mental health conditions present differently before being acknowledged/diagnosed. And just because we might not have previously been explicitly told that Veil was a coping mechanism or that Shallan had more going on than repressed memories doesn’t mean it wasn’t already happening, and already being shown happening (if not as fleshed out at first) in-text.

You seem to be suggesting that it’s weird people are working around Shallan’s issues, yet you don’t acknowledge that far greater mental and political gymnastics were required for dealing with numerous other characters – such as to enable Dalinar to work with Sadeas. Who actually proved to be dangerous.

Please explain what it is about Shallan’s particular mental health issues that makes her dangerous in her position. And how this sets her apart as an especial danger compared to people who are “merely” power-hungry, or calculating, or any number of other “normal” traits.

It’s problematic in the extreme to suggest Nale or Ishar’s entirely different and unrelated mental health issues possibly making them too dangerous for their power means Shallan’s disparate mental health issues are likewise dangerous. Besides which, it’s even more problematic to assume that it’s their apparent insanities that made them dangerous. It’s like looking at everybody who isn’t within the reader’s definition, or acceptable radius of, normal as crazy, and conflating that with them being dangerous.

In reality, a lot of other characteristics – such as the Dark Triad of Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism – are highly predictive of a person being dangerous and unfit for power. Flashier mental health diagnoses like Shallan’s are not. In fact, it’s the progression of Nale (following the Law justifies any means) and Ishar (I am a god) along the Dark Triad axes that makes them, and their insanities, dangerous.

It’s explicitly only the Heralds who succumbed to the Dark Triad personality flaws who abused power to hurt untold numbers of people, even though none of the Heralds are sane.

I'm not so sure about the dark triad stuff too? Like, people with narcissistic personality disorder, an actual condition, are fine too, those are also just other people with different struggles. Like, yeah, someone with narcissism can be a jerk in ways that are encouraged by that neurodivergency and they might need to work extra hard to avoid certain harmful patterns of behavior, but they're not any less capable of good. I think trying to blame bad behaviors on inherent traits is kinda flawed by it's nature. Like, everyone makes choices and it seems to undermine the harm those actions cause by blaming it on something like that-- like, it takes away from accountability. 

But we know less about that than plural stuff, so, shrug. - Nix

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@the winter system I got you. You were kind enough to illuminate details about plurality we just can’t get from books, so if I can clarify some neurological stuff, I’ll gladly try. Forgive me if it’s not as helpful as you have been.

2 hours ago, the winter system said:

I'm not so sure about the dark triad stuff too? Like, people with narcissistic personality disorder, an actual condition, are fine too, those are also just other people with different struggles. Like, yeah, someone with narcissism can be a jerk in ways that are encouraged by that neurodivergency and they might need to work extra hard to avoid certain harmful patterns of behavior, but they're not any less capable of good. I think trying to blame bad behaviors on inherent traits is kinda flawed by it's nature. Like, everyone makes choices and it seems to undermine the harm those actions cause by blaming it on something like that-- like, it takes away from accountability

The Dark Triad isn’t about mental health conditions, it’s about choices to behave in selfish and destructive ways interpersonally. And since human beings are social creatures, that basically means choosing to behave in selfish and destructive ways, period.

Granted, some people will be much more naturally inclined toward this, and have to work harder not to. And admittedly, certain neurological conditions or organic damage (such as that too severely affecting the prefrontal cortex) actually do reduce a person's capacity for culpability and even for making choices, despite leaving them unfortunately more likely to do harm; but this isn’t what either you or I are talking about.

My classes always differentiated NPD from narcissism the way it’s defined in the Dark Triad of personality traits. Some people with NPD would certainly fall on that three-pronged scale of callous-manipulative interpersonal relations with no desire to be decent to or consider other human beings, but so would some of everybody else. Certain “types” of NPD would make a person ironically less likely to than most of us.

Psychology Today has an overview of the Dark Triad here, and Mentalhelp.net has a layman’s differentiation here that I’m quoting:

Quote

It's important to remember that the major distinction between the narcissist and the narcissistic personality disorder is that the narcissistic is not mentally ill, does not have a personality disorder and is most interested in gaining power, money and prestige. Too many narcissists succeed in their pursuits.

The Dark Triad doesn’t encompass diagnosed mental health conditions. It is personality traits, not indelible character or other “inherent traits” – although some people will naturally tend to fall farther along any arm(s) of the Triad. It is three distinct, but often overlapping, sets of exploitative, selfish, and frequently sadistic (although sadism is often considered a fourth trait in a Dark Tetrad) ways of interacting with the world and other people.

Anyone will have some of these traits, but it gets dangerous when somebody is far along multiple of these axes, because the intersection of them tends to mean consciously choosing to exploitatively disregard or harm other human beings. It is, after all, a combination of: narcissism (extreme focus on self-aggrandizement); Machiavellianism (manipulation and exploitation to get what is wanted without concern for harm done); and psychopathy (lack of empathy).

Being extreme in the Dark Triad traits basically means wanting to make oneself look better and achieve selfish goals at any cost but with no consideration for other human beings.

Of course having a mental health condition, even being clinically diagnosed with NPD or psychopathy (which isn’t a diagnosis any more than narcissism is, so let’s go with antisocial personality disorder, ASPD), doesn’t inherently make someone dangerous.

One of the people who’s really advanced studies in the neurological underpinnings, and clinical presentation in criminal populations, of psychopathy is a psychopath, neurologically. James Fallon just happens to have been very lucky, having a good family growing up so nothing violent was triggered, and to have chosen to consider others. This makes him still unnervingly cold according to family members, but it also makes him someone who has done a lot of good and been a supportive family member, or what he calls a pro-social psychopath.

The three axes of the Dark Triad are each about people’s tendencies, not their diagnoses, but the intensity of the combination of those three axes is scarily reliably correlated with how much harm a person’s choices and actions will do.

What NPD, ASPD, and certain biological states or innate characteristics definitely do is make a person have to put in extra effort to meet standards of empathetic interpersonal interactions that may be taken for granted by those blessed with different genes, neurological development, or life situations. But what adding Machiavellianism to the mix does is to make a person not care how much harm they do, which prevents them from that needed effort.

So, the Dark Triad formulation is neither claiming people with a specific mental health condition are dangerous, nor suggesting that people who possess cautionary levels of these Dark Triad characteristics do so based on inherent traits/mental conditions. It’s pointing out that the combination of psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism is dangerous by dint of the callousness-reinforcing nature of these traits.

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On 1/15/2021 at 0:53 PM, WhereisHoid said:

As to why everyone just went along with this, I think it's the normal way to react. I think that you are harming some people with the way you are expressing yourself out of ignorance on the subject (I don't mean to insult you, everyone is ignorant in different subjects). Just as you can't make someone who is sad happy by saying "don't be sad", nothing would change if someone told Shallan "hey you totally own all your decisions and maybe we should talk about why you feel the need to create 3 separate identities". It just wouldn't make sense because what is happening to her has nothing to do with reasoning, it has to do with feelings, emotions, trauma and a very complex psychological process. So, unless they are psychologists, the best thing everyone can do is accept that she is dealing with this and support her, not question her or make her feel even more insecure about herself. 

If the book was based in the real world than what your saying would be correct, however the book isn't set in the real world, it is set in a fictional world where "our perception of mental illness isn't applied", the in world concept of mental health issues is and i am paraphrasing, there newest concept here is "put them in a dark room". Given what i have just said it makes no sense for no one to mention/talk about Shallans deteriorating mental state. You are projecting our ideas about mental health on to characters that think completely different than us and arguing that they are/should be following our concepts rather than there own

On 1/18/2021 at 10:10 AM, the winter system said:

Okay, maybe I will go into this a bit. 

Unrecognized plurality and recognized plurality manifest very differently. The symptoms are still there, but they're often recognized as shifts in mood, at least when it comes to OSDD-1b. Various headmates are still there, they just might not communicate with each other or recognize that they're separate from each other. She's not DID, she doesn't have the current gaps in memory. I think you might be underestimating how it's shown in WOR and WOK. Veil is an introject (a headmate based on an external source) that is based on "being a spy" but she wasn't nonexistent before, she just gained that identity and became more specific.  

In my opinion, going by what i seen in WoK and WoR, Veil starts entirely as a "cover story" i don't see any evidence to suggest "see was there before hand", The persona or personality seems to of become a coping mechanism for the mental anguish she suffers as a direct result of the truth she speaks at the end of WoR, "i killed my mother", the same as radiant actually, she had been dealing with the trauma of her childhood by suppressing her memories, when those have to come to light in order for her to progress in her oaths, she needs a different coping mechanism hence Veil and Radiant are birthed. I could be 100% wrong, but thats how it seemed to me, from the text in books.

On 1/18/2021 at 10:10 AM, the winter system said:

Re: People being okay with it. They're likely understanding it as a Lightweaver thing, rather than a mental health thing. In addition, having her have an entire thing about being institutionalized even when people like Kaladin aren't would be really bad, representation wise. It would be a really bad experience to read and would feel -- would be -- being singled out. Those people are specifically people who can't function in society. They can. And it's actually really nice to see. I don't care about realism, I care about seeing people like me in healthy relationships and not being judged unfairly. 

This is actually a good potential reason why "people are going along with it, and one the only ones iv seen as an "in world reason". I wasn't sayimg she should be institutionalised, just it was strange was never a topic of conversation between characters as her mental health lilness becomes more noticeable.

On 1/18/2021 at 2:04 PM, Kyn said:

You seem to be suggesting that it’s weird people are working around Shallan’s issues, yet you don’t acknowledge that far greater mental and political gymnastics were required for dealing with numerous other characters – such as to enable Dalinar to work with Sadeas. Who actually proved to be dangerous.

Please explain what it is about Shallan’s particular mental health issues that makes her dangerous in her position. And how this sets her apart as an especial danger compared to people who are “merely” power-hungry, or calculating, or any number of other “normal” traits.

Again, you seem to be taking our "real world" concepts of mental health illness and applying them to characters who have a completely different concept of mental health and arguing that they are following our concepts, when they clearly don't. Given the "in world" concept of caring for people with mental health illness is, "put them in a dark room" it makes no sense for people to work around her, or never discuss her particular issues.

Explain why Shallan would be considered more dangerous? Did i say she was more dangerous ? I don't think i even said she was dangerous, i said potentially dangerous which she is, im not sure how you could argue she isn't potentially dangerous, but i don't think she is more potentially dangerous than Dalinar for example.

On 1/18/2021 at 2:04 PM, Kyn said:

It’s problematic in the extreme to suggest Nale or Ishar’s entirely different and unrelated mental health issues possibly making them too dangerous for their power means Shallan’s disparate mental health issues are likewise dangerous. Besides which, it’s even more problematic to assume that it’s their apparent insanities that made them dangerous. It’s like looking at everybody who isn’t within the reader’s definition, or acceptable radius of, normal as crazy, and conflating that with them being dangerous.

In reality, a lot of other characteristics – such as the Dark Triad of Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism – are highly predictive of a person being dangerous and unfit for power. Flashier mental health diagnoses like Shallan’s are not. In fact, it’s the progression of Nale (following the Law justifies any means) and Ishar (I am a god) along the Dark Triad axes that makes them, and their insanities, dangerous.

It’s explicitly only the Heralds who succumbed to the Dark Triad personality flaws who abused power to hurt untold numbers of people, even though none of the Heralds are sane.

Again, you are applying real world concepts on a set of characters who have completely different concept of mental health. And using our concepts to argue why they are behaving/acting how they are, when it is established that there views in world no way align with our own. 

When narratively within the books how they see/treat mental health issues has been established, having someone with obvious mental health issues, having there conditional for lack of a better word, worked around, never mentioned, having people go along with it like all normal makes no sense. I believe that is what the OP meant and it is certainly what i meant. 

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38 minutes ago, Quick Ben said:

Again, you are applying real world concepts on a set of characters who have completely different concept of mental health. And using our concepts to argue why they are behaving/acting how they are, when it is established that there views in world no way align with our own.

Nope, I’m applying real-world concepts of how mental health works to the way mental health in-world works, not to the way people in-world treat those with mental health issues. It’s like assuming that a chair in-world is like a chair in our world except where explicitly told otherwise.

At no point did I ever even mention the way we treat people with various mental health conditions in our world. Nor did I refer to anything about the actions or decision-making of the people around Shallan, only to the actual issues likely plaguing various people in the book who seem to have mental health struggles. So I’m not sure where you got the idea that I’m talking about the people reacting to the various mental health issues when I clearly am not.

So let me actually address the way people see/treat mental health issues in-world, so you can stop arguing against a strawman. This is not monolothic. We see the one-size-fits-all reaction of the ardents, but are explicitly told that most people with even severe mental health issues do not end up in their care. Only those turned in by family trying to help, and only when functionality is impaired enough to make this seem necessary.

The ardents’ bludgeon approach to “treatment” is why Shallan does not go to them. Her ability to function means that the people around her aware of her plurality are unlikely to gainsay her wishes because they are people who care about her; and besides, she still appears to be doing her job effectively. Because she is a Radiant with unknown powers, other people seeing evidence of her plurality seem to accept it as part of her power set, not assume it is a mental illness, making them unlikely to try to turn her in to the ardents even if they didn’t revere (or at least need the) Radiants too much to do so.

In the real world, people in positions of power regularly get away with being actually dangerously crazy, it’s only “normal” and expendable people who tend to get locked away.

Edited by Kyn
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2 hours ago, Quick Ben said:

Again, you are applying real world concepts on a set of characters who have completely different concept of mental health. And using our concepts to argue why they are behaving/acting how they are, when it is established that there views in world no way align with our own. 

While I understand what you are saying, I think your position is too extreme to be supported by the conventions of literary fiction, and is also inconsistent with the author's own stated intentions.

The characters we see are unarguably HUMAN.  They have the same emotions, the same kind of thoughts and behaviors, that we do.  Even the Singers, who are explicitly "nonhuman", demonstrate easily recognizable values and motivations.  All these characters are dealing with issues and problems which feel real to us, and are INTENDED to feel real to us.  If nobody in these books was using "our concepts" for behavior, if their views "in no way align with our own", then we wouldn't understand anything that is going on.  We would not be able to identify or empathize with the characters.  We wouldn't care, and we probably would neither buy nor read the books.

Brandon has been very clear that his intention is for his fiction to inform our understanding of real-world problems.  He seeks and dialogs with real-world people who share his characters' issues and challenges.  He works very hard to understand people's backgrounds, experiences, and points of view when they are very different from his own, so that he can portray them more accurately on the page.  To insinuate that we're not supposed to make connections between the way things happen in the "real" world and the way those same things happen in the Cosmere is, in my mind, to deny a very important facet of what Sanderson is trying to accomplish.

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Everything @AquaRegia said gets more to the actual narrative reasons for the way Shallan’s treated in the book than anything I’ve thought to say. People in the book behave similarly to the way real people behave, with the same justifications – or as close to them as the author can fabricate.

5 hours ago, AquaRegia said:

To insinuate that we're not supposed to make connections between the way things happen in the "real" world and the way those same things happen in the Cosmere is, in my mind, to deny a very important facet of what Sanderson is trying to accomplish.

That’s pretty much where my last point came from, that mental health issues in powerful people aren’t treated the same way as those in other people. Leaders known to be insane and high in Dark Triad traits (Nero), not merely those with mental health concerns, regularly get into and remain in positions of power. A hobo on the streets who hears voices is treated entirely differently from a charismatic cult leader who does the same.

And this highlights how similar that real-life disparity is to the one we see portrayed in the book. Remember, Shallan’s peer group is men and women with a lot of power. She’s light-eyed, a Shardblade wielder, and a Radiant. When we look at how other people in power were treated when they were seen as having mental health problems, Shallan is being treated exactly like her peers.

When Gavilar was thought to be getting problematically unpredictable and influence by something untoward, he remained king with no checks on his power.

When Taravangian was thought to have a stroke or some kind of mental break, he, too remained in power with his advisors.

The God King was widely believed to be insane, but he still ruled a nation.

Any Shardbearer who was seen as dangerous was left free, such as Amaram.

Taln was locked away when he was seen as a madman who was a nobody, and left free when he was seen as a madman who was a Herald.

The way characters treated Shallan and other powerful people with mental health issues is utterly consistent. Expecting her to be treated the way the common-folk were treated when they had similar struggles makes no sense.

8 hours ago, Quick Ben said:

When narratively within the books how they see/treat mental health issues has been established, having someone with obvious mental health issues, having there conditional for lack of a better word, worked around, never mentioned, having people go along with it like all normal makes no sense. I believe that is what the OP meant and it is certainly what i meant. 

Yes, how people see/treat mental health issues narratively within the books has been established – but it’s been established dichotomously for powerful people versus peasants. Additionally, a person with a Shardblade simply isn’t locked away.

People went along with Shallan’s mental health presentations to exactly the degree they went along with any other powerful person’s, and that is a predictable function of power both in the real world and, as demonstrated repeatedly in the books, on Roshar.

Edited by Kyn
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