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[OB] Diagnosing Shallan


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I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a clinical psychologist or psychiatric professional. I minored in Psychology in college, but that by no means makes me an expert. However, I have seen/heard a lot of people throwing around the idea that Shallan has Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder (DID/MPD). I humbly submit that this is inaccurate, as a necessity for this diagnosis is an associated amnesia when switching between personalities. @Dreamstorm offered an alternative diagnosis of Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (OSDD) this link offers an explanation of that disorder. I think that OSDD fits better, but wonder if there is something else that may be a better diagnosis. What I would like to do is to run through what we are sure of and hopefully someone who is qualified can weigh in!

1. Shallan has experienced severe trauma in her youth. Her mother attempted to kill her, with Shallan instead killing her mother.

2. Shallan experienced a prolonged period of virtual imprisonment at the hands of her father.

3. Shallan witnessed physical, emotional, and verbal abuse at the hands of her father, including his maiming of several maids, the murder of her stepmother, and the ordered assassination of her stepmother.

4. Shallan feels incapable of dealing with certain social situations.

5. Shallan feels incapable of dealing with certain emotions, or strong emotions in general.


I am trying to ignore the fact that Shallan has the ability to manifest different version of herself using her powers. It would be very difficult to give her a real world diagnosis if we start taking the fantastic into consideration. Other than that, please let me know if there is anything that I missed. 

Now for the fun part. What are your thoughts? Any Psychologists or Psychiatrists in the house?


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  • Greywatch changed the title to [OB] Diagnosing Shallan

In my Shallan scenes that I wrote, I was basing those scenes off of several premises:

- That she becomes Veil (and Radiant) because she doesn't like herself or her history and seeks to rewrite her own story or else add additional histories (such as her fabricated background as Veil)

- That she feels like 'boring' Shallan (the real one) ought to pursue being a scholar which is why she asks Jasnah to continue on being a ward.  However, she is conflicted because this isn't actually what she wants, so she's doing it more out of duty than desire.

- That she doesn't actually know what she wants and is afraid to find out, so spends time distracting herself with other personas

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  • 2 weeks later...

I completely agree that Shallan doesn't have DID.

In DID, different "personalities" form during a moment/period of trauma, when the mind tries to protect itself by dissociating, basically running away or blocking out what's happening, the part of the mind that's left behind to experience the trauma becomes a personality, (this is my basic understanding of what generally happens, I am also not an expert). DID personalities also form during childhood, and the child needs to be uncomforted, (again, to my knowledge).

Shallan does not fit these requirements. Yes, her childhood trauma contributed to her desire to become someone else, but Veil formed as a result of her intent when Shallan was an adult, not as a response to trauma. She literally created Veil as a  disguise to meet the Ghostbloods. 

Radiant,  you could argue, was formed in a moment of stress. But Shallan also created her intentionally, not as her brain's natural response.

Then there's the amnesia thing which you already touched on, and is probably the most clear reason why Shallan isn't suffering from DID. When people shift to different personalities, their brain chemistry literally changes. They have different handwriting, memories, and personalities. It's not that they become a different person, but that a different person comes out. In cosmere terms, a person's cognitive aspect completeley changes or that multiple cognitive identities are connected to one physical aspect. This might seem to fit with Shallan, but Veil and Radiant are an extension of Shallan's imagination, versions of herself that she created, not completely different people. 

I think that Shallan is purposefully warping her cognitive aspect (how she views herself) in order to deal with her situation, and what happens to Shallan might be DDNOS, but she definitely does not have DID as we understand it.

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