1. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade Member

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    Metally Dehibiliting Disease in a Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by VioletBlade, Mar 23, 2012.

    Hi! You all were so helpful with the other threads I posted so I'm hoping I can get some more help on a much more trickier subject: writing characters that are slowly becoming mentally insane.

    In my work of fiction, I plan for anyone with magical powers to have this need to compete that is so strong that if they ignore it, it slowly and painfully drives them completely insane. It's treatable, which is why they all enter a competition every year that the government puts on just so they have an outlet for their disease.

    Okay. So nevermind that my disease needs A LOT more work. I know that. What I don't know is how to even start my novel because if my character is indeed going crazy, how does one interject the signs of that into the story? I know it will be easier to write it once I've got the details of my disease down, but generally speaking, what are mannarisms of someone who's slowly going insane.

    I searched the threads in this forum and the only one I saw was for a character who was already too far gone to save. My character is still normal and able to function, but it does affect her life.

    Anyway, ask any questions or clarifications and I'll try to answer it to the best of my ability, but I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you!
     
  2. grayshade
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    grayshade New Member

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    Hi VioletBlade!

    I just want to start off by saying that I really like the idea of a negative side effect caused by the presence of magic. It adds a nice spin to the magical world. Especially by giving you more of a reason to create characters who are out to kill!

    Now, to answer your main question, I think a really important trait that should be portrayed is irritability. But I'm talking about full on violent outbursts in response to small annoyances. You could even make it so that through an increase in irritability and anger, they become more provoked by the chances to start a fight or violent altercation. Pretty much irrational behavior and decisions that may start off small, eventually becoming a sort of catalyst for the fight they desire.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Question
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    Question Active Member

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    Here are a few suggestions,
    Delusions, seeing things that aren't there, hearing voices, maybe memory loss or the person blacking out. And I agree irritability could be one. Also just general paranoia, where they are suspicious of everyone and everything.
     
  4. cs2212
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    cs2212 Member

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    Things like becoming paranoid and irritable can be a good starting point.

    Magic could be a good driver for that kind of story. It would allow you to introduce voices, hallucinations, even just more simple paranoia/conspiracy thoughts and the character believing they are subject to some kind of external influence.

    Where in reality it can be externally easy to determine when things are paranoid delusions or hallucinations, in a magical world there could be a whole element of is it real/is it not.

    It could work to making your character even more hell bent on the idea that there is nothing wrong with them too and that the hallucinations they are experiencing are attacks by competitors in the competition for example and feed into further paranoia.
     
  5. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    where the mind is without fear...
    Since this is a magical world... phobia of using the magical power could be a sign of insanity, actually this goes well with what you said--if they don't compete they slowly go insane. May be slowly they will become afraid of using magic, and the physical signs could be nervousness, lack of confidence (I choose the milder signs because it will make them seem normal externally)
     
  6. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    At times, people will just stop talking and won't respond to anyone. You could be speaking to them over and over again from two inches away, and they won't acknowledge it or answer. That's something to include.
     
  7. RabidChipmunk
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    RabidChipmunk Member

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    If you're into this sort of thing, I really recommend that you look up and study schizophrenia, especially the "positive" symptoms of it, some of which include paranoid delusions (the idea that someone, or everyone, is "out to get" you), delusions of reference (for example, believing that something you heard on TV was aimed directly and intentionally at you), somatic delusions (like believing bugs are crawling under your skin), and delusions of grandeur (such as believing you have magical powers that are the true cause of your disease, wink wink).
    Also of interest, although I'd personally think less so, are the negative symptoms, such as poverty of speech, and cognitive symptoms, such as disconnected thinking.

    There's a lot of available information on schizophrenia, and you can even YouTube it and see real people suffering from it (but be warned, it's not pretty). I'm not sure if the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are exactly what you had in mind, but I hope they can help in some way!
     
  8. Gumdart
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    Gumdart New Member

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    Maybe you won't need to express it through your character. You might possibly be able to express it through how other characters treat him/her. This may only work if you write in third person. How a character is spoken to or treated could be the device you use to show progression of the disease.
    Alternatively have the character's speech trail off into an ellipsis half way through a sentence, staring into the distance, glazed eyes or involuntary movements. Possibly give the character a physical indication like a habitual limp, despite the fact there is nothing wrong with their leg at all. With all these things you can adjust their frequency and magnitude as the disease worsens or gets better, allowing your reader to judge the progression of the disease without you having to spell it out for them.
     
  9. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    From what you’re saying it’s an addiction very similar to being addicted to video games, specifically intense action and excitement of competition. In most stories magic is a result of nerve and brain energy so you could say that using this energy creates endorphins in the brain adding to the addiction. The radiation of energy from nerve bundles could cause damage to the nerve sheath (insulating cover). This would cause loss of feeling, tingling and pain in those areas (hand/fingers). It’d look like they’d be developing random ticks as the nerves fired off periodically. This would also make it difficult to sleep and add to the irritability.
     
  10. LeMasterTJ
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    LeMasterTJ New Member

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    Great idea! Nice spin on how magic "makes everything better"! With the right application of the plot, you could get this published!

    But, to answer your question, I believe that, if writing from a first person perspective, hallucinations where the character writes something without directly revealing that it's a hallucination by making it clear from others telling him/her, or something along the lines of "discovering" it's a hallucination will work. Of course, you'll need other things, but it'll work.

    Third person is more difficult, but I'll just say the others are telling you what to do in that case.

    Basically, nice idea, and the suggestions are great ways to apply it.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just wanted to point out that instead of "Metally Dehibiliting Disease" you wanted to know about a Mentally Debilitating Disease.
    It would probably help you to know the correct term before you try to craft a story based on it...
     
  12. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Reading some cases studies of abnormal psychology, disorder, etc. would obviously help, & would be highly recommended.

    There are the more obvious "positive" symptoms that some already highlighted: delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, etc.
    But in some ways negative & otherwise less conspicuous symptoms can be employed to more intriguing effect. Disorganized thinking comes to mind. Listening to disorganized schizophrenics rambling on seems like being stuck in a hellish dream where nothing makes sense, at least, as we understand it.

    Or depression, bipolarity, antisocial features, dereal/personalization, dissociation, etc.

    On the other hand, there are neurological disorders that can lead to "mental debilitation". Korsakoff's Syndrome (similar to Beriberi), Fatal Familial Insomnia (really trippy), Aphasia, Cotard's Syndrome/Capgras Delusion/Fregoli Delusion, etc, etc.

    Without the constricting framework of working with existing disorders, I imagine you can kind of pick & choose what symptoms you want. Really, there's a ton of research out there & material to work with.
     
  13. LeMasterTJ
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    LeMasterTJ New Member

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    It was probably just a typo.

    Sorry to veer a little off-topic. Back on track!
     
  14. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    The Maze Runner series by James Dashner in the last two books, The Sorch Trails and The Death Cure they have people who slowly go crazy. In The Death Cure they focus a bit more on it because one of the main characters has the disease. I think the author did a pretty good job depicting it.
     
  15. VioletBlade
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    I actually find mental disorders very interesting, hence where the idea came from! So actually, Schizophrenia is under the category of diseases I'd really like to learn more about, so thank you for that suggestion! Because the novel will be in a first person point of view, a lot of those symptoms will work really well for me to write from her perspective. I've also decided on beginning the novel (I'm pretty sure anyway, I haven't written it yet, but I really like the idea!) of her having a hallucination, prompting her to "treat" her disease as soon as possible and enter the Matches the government puts on.

    Basically, the government gets their dirty work done for them in the Matches, because they give the contestants a set of tasks that utilize their power in some way, so especially ones like destroying a village that's angered the government or something along those lines, paranoia would be a great way for the government to take advantage of a magic-user so they would believe the villagers or whoever they are supposed to take out is trying to harm them.

    Beyond that, I feel like these outward signs of aggression, such as starting fights or having heightened aggression will build my case that the government tells those who do not have magical powers that these are the reasons the magical community is separated from the rest of society and why regular humans shouldn't interact with them if they want to be safe, so that's a great one!

    I really love the comparison you made to video game addiction, because it fits perfectly! And the random ticks I could definitely work with as well! Thank you for this scientific explanation (even if it doesn't actually happen ;)) because it will really help me create a basis for how the disease makes them progressively get worse.

    Yes, I am sorry, I was creating this topic rather quickly before I had to be somewhere so I did spell debilitating incorrectly! Sorry about that! I don't know if I can edit the topic or not, but I'll see if I can. Thanks for bringing that to my attention! :)
     

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