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Author Topic: Jedi and mental disorders  (Read 655 times)

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Offline SquigglyV

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Jedi and mental disorders
« on: 06/25/18, 11:19:33 PM »
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How do the Jedi deal with mental disorders? Are there any sort of established methods for certain types? Or magic force techniques that aren't scarily close to Sith alchemy?

Specifically what I want to know is how the Order helps members who have PTSD, especially from Sith-related trauma, but i'm also kinda curious as to how they'd manage things like schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Or if they'd even recruit people who have preexisting conditions in the first place.

I feel like there's probably no established lore on this topic, so any headcanons or RP people have done involving that sort of thing would be helpful.

Offline Orell

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #1 on: 06/25/18, 11:44:16 PM »
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oh hey this seems like a simple non-controversial subject.

Woof.

Okay, first off, it's a really good question. And I'm an asshole with a comp-sci degree, not one in psychiatry or psychology. Buuuuuuut...

First, Force afflictions probably would be dealt with Force healing magic. Duh.

With regards to stuff like PTSD and situations where (...to woefully and horribly oversimplify serious and complex medical issues) the brain is working fine, but the instinctual defensive cues are misfiring due to that trauma... I wager they'd handle it like we (ideally) do. Try at counseling and talking things out first and foremost.

But the cases where the brain isn't working as intended... that's tricky. I don't think they'd have a magic fix for the problem or anything, but... maybe there is something Forcey they could do instead?

This might be a case where asking on the Star Wars reddit might be a decent idea. It might get a greater range of input if the subreddit can stop bitching about Disney ruining Star Wars, and it is a curious question to ponder :).
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Offline SquigglyV

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #2 on: 06/26/18, 09:02:25 AM »
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I doubt they'll ever stop bitching about Disney lol, i'll ask /r/asksciencefiction instead and see if there's any interesting revelations.

I imagine they could treat most things in the same way that we try to, i'm just wondering if there's any extra methods the Jedi have that would help. Or if a contemplative warrior mage like that would even seek normal treatment in the first place.

Online blingdenston

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #3 on: 06/26/18, 10:03:23 AM »
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I was literally just thinking about this the other night...specifically, I was talking about 'psychic chirurgery' in the old Ravenloft setting and ideas I'd had for the horror implications of seeking a cure for madness from a mysterious psychic. 'Psychic surgery' is a fraud technique, very common way back in the 60s-80s, where quacks would use laying-on-of-hands to remove 'illnesses' from a sick person's body (usually just chicken guts or other forms of bloody offal). In the context we were talking about, 'psychic chirurgery' referred to a psionic power that allowed the practicioner to heal people's minds, ending feeblemindedness or confusion or the effects of a symbol of madness. In Ravenloft, where madness is a common affliction simply by adventuring in the world, it offers an uncommon but more reliable method of dealing with mental derangement than putting yourself in a fantasy sanitorium to be treated by psuedo-Victorian elf alienists or whatever.

This lead me to thinking about specifically Jedi and mental illnesses, and how (depending on the source) Jedi healers are capable of alleviating wounds and illnesses that even space medicine can't touch, but how rarely that reaches out to psychic harm...but then I thought about Revan from KOTOR (who was literally 'reprogrammed'), and I was thinking about how it was appropriate that Jedi, who often have psychic powers, would have special techniques for that sort of thing.

As in the aforementioned Revan example, though, grand manipulations and hubristic 'overwatch' of people's innermost psyche should have deep consequences and terrible implications. The way I see it, I'd say that Jedi likely DO have techniques for 'Force healing' mental illnesses, but they're dangerous and frowned-upon: an attempt to force someone's personal trauma to be 'fixed' is no balm to most people.

The Jedi 'mind trick' only works against the weak-willed and, as someone with experience with dealing with mental illness, the trauma-drive of an afflicted individual is not 'weak'...it takes hard, long work to help someone get through their issues, and no doctor or counselor can do it alone. Without effort and dedication from the patient, it's almost doomed to failure. Thus, I'd see it like this: Jedi, especially those with skills at mental manipulation, probably can wave a hand at someone with mental illnesses and 'fix' them...but not without endangering their long-term recovery and threatening 'psychic breaks' that can damage them even worse. Jedi counselors, on the other hand, can likely use a combination of 'calming effects' (like the mind trick, but nice...or like Force stun, but on a low-setting) and their preternatural awareness of consequence and empathy to guide folks into a treatment and recovery program that is supernally effective...with time.
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Offline Wymarc

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #4 on: 06/26/18, 03:14:19 PM »
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Pretty much what Bling said, but expanding to add what I do with Telline:
As far as treating others, I expect the Jedi have some very good mundane specialists. They take mental health very seriously and I can't imagine they wouldn't have extensive experience particularly with mental disorders with an exterior focus. I suspect the Force is of limited use, either requiring very fundamental changes at odds with Jedi philosophy and with serious risks, or very limited in scope. For example, Telline has on occasion used a heavy-handed mind trick to force someone suffering an attack to calm down. It worked to keep the current situation under control, but did nothing to help in the long term (and might actually hurt - but the lasting effects of mind tricks are another topic).
As for Jedi suffering from disorders, I doubt many with preexisting disorders will make knight. Being a Jedi is already extremely taxing. They'll find a place in the corps, where they'll have access to the above assistance. Acquired disorders however, I suspect are pretty common. I know Telline has demons. That said one of, if not the fundamental techniques of the Jedi is Control. Between extreme mental discipline and supernatural control over their bodies (and I assume mental state) Jedi Knights ought to have an impressive toolset for combating things like PTSD, but it's something I they have to keep fighting. It's not a cure, and they're not immune.
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Offline Karmic

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #5 on: 06/26/18, 05:58:59 PM »
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Wymarc, that last few sentences of yours started my mind down an interesting, on topic, query for all of this.

If you look at a lot of the (acquired) depressive/anxious mental health disorders, many people struggle with these things due to their attachments (whether to others, or in a more buddhist sense - to the "should be/should have beens/supposed to be) and the individual's sense of control - both in the level of control they believed they had over their lives before XYZ or mentalhealthdisorderA started; as well as in their sense of control in the current *aftermath* (after trauma, in the middle of dealing with mental health issueA etc.)

Its very much central to (a/our) human's sense of well being - the level of control they *perceive* they have over themselves and their lives vs. the level of control they actually have and their acceptance of this reality.

Someone who is OK with the 'lack of actual control' they have over themselves or life - tends to be less likely to have, or develop, trauma reactions/depression/anxiety/etc.

Someone who is NOT Ok with this lack of control - either before or after a trauma - is more likely to have more issues.

Huge chunks of my profession (psychiatry/psychology) is spent trying to help people be OK with the actual lack of control they have over much of anything (including their own minds) and having that not cause undue stress on their lives.

Given all of the above - one could certainly argue how the Jedi push towards less attachment/less the individual could very well lead to a psyche that was "immune" to such mental health issues.  (not counting biological/genetic issues)

Immune (or a learned immunity) to developing a PTSD/trauma reaction because it would *not* be as disruptive to their world view nor disruptive to the amount of control a Jedi believed they had.  It could/would be *literally* trained out of their minds - by the time they got to Jedi Master (?) or perhaps just for the elite of the Masters.

All being dependent on how truly successful they were at lacking attachment and believing in the power of the Force.

**Though important to note - one's strength of belief in a higher power is often challenged by the occurrence of trauma-but in a human that is because it runs into the idea that the higher power "should have/would have" stopped the trauma.  A jedi wouldn't necessarily have that immediate hangup.**

I realize not really on topic but found it a fascinating discussion exercise and something someone might want to keep in mind/keep under consideration for their own conceptualization of how this might play out in various ways.

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Offline Niarra

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #6 on: 06/26/18, 06:14:07 PM »
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I was literally just thinking about this the other night...specifically, I was talking about 'psychic chirurgery' in the old Ravenloft setting and ideas I'd had for the horror implications of seeking a cure for madness from a mysterious psychic.

Thanks for giving me PTSD flashbacks of my own, Bling.  :nuu: I played one of the Ravenloft 3rd Ed. campaigns through two times, once in the classic fantasy setting and once in a home-brewed post-apocalyptic gunslingers setting, and both times the players concluded the experience even more insane than the characters. Strahd can kiss my *@#*%#$ with his booby-trapped rooms.  :rage: (Even if my Small Wonder android girl helping the mutant demolitionist to rig up Count Jerkface's big ol' heart crystal with explosives and sending his tower up in smoke was pretty damn rewarding. And IIRC we took down Strahd by the drug-addicted gunslinger holding him in a chokehold while someone scrambled to stab him... that was pretty epic too.)

But yes... back to the topic at hand...

For the most part I'm on the same page with what others have said here. In particular I'd probably underline this here that Bling said:

The way I see it, I'd say that Jedi likely DO have techniques for 'Force healing' mental illnesses, but they're dangerous and frowned-upon: an attempt to force someone's personal trauma to be 'fixed' is no balm to most people.

The Jedi 'mind trick' only works against the weak-willed and, as someone with experience with dealing with mental illness, the trauma-drive of an afflicted individual is not 'weak'...it takes hard, long work to help someone get through their issues, and no doctor or counselor can do it alone. Without effort and dedication from the patient, it's almost doomed to failure.

At a basic and high level, that's my interpretation as well.

I think with Jedi, provided you are hewing to what canon gives us about them, you have an interesting intersection of supernatural toolset with worldview philosophy that would definitely apply to mental conditions. For the supernatural, you have an ability to actually and accurately sense emotion and thought, as well as an ability to telepathically influence change. For the philosophical, you have a belief system that is based on the concept of balance and harmony, not in some good/bad sense but specifically in the way living and non-living systems interact to create an energy field that allows for the perpetuation of natural life cycles (in other words, the "life energy ecosystem" of the universe). With the nature of the Force adding in an element of "thoughts really do shape reality" then the importance of helping minds to achieve balance becomes truly paramount.

The mental discipline that is key to a Jedi's training is a tool that the layman in this universe often won't have, and while it certainly wouldn't make Jedi immune to something like PTSD (and frankly I imagine a lot of Jedi would have good cause to suffer from PTSD) it does at least give them an avenue to attempt to control it. In that sense, I imagine that beyond even their superpowers the chief tool Jedi would have would be this greater facility with enacting coping mechanisms. Perhaps Jedi are no more immune to falling prey to these conditions than anyone else, they're just better equipped to keep functioning in spite of them.

With my character Niarra, who is a trained Jedi Healer, I've had the fun opportunity to play her trying to help two separate characters with their mental conditions, and in both cases I chose to make her approach be one foremost of psychology assisted by Force-use rather than the other way around.

Basically... what everyone else said before me.

But I admit I have also imagined the possibilities of something more in line with Bling's 'psychic chirurgery.' Revan's reprogramming is a good lore example of ways in which the Force can be used to truly alter someone's mind, though obviously with many side-effects and consequences. Any other variety of powers that we've seen that affect memory, form empathic bonds, or inflict false/horrible/painful memories or regress people's minds - these all explore ways in which something like the Force might truly change people's psyche. When I take those examples in conjunction with the canonicity of dark side corruption literally changing people's physiology (eyes, veins, skin, etc), and the ability of the Force to heal physically and disperse energy, I imagine there could be an argument made for the possibility of 'Force surgery' on the literal neural pathways or biochemistry of a mind.

The danger you start running into with that idea, though, is of course that it starts to tread very heavily into more SF realms when Star Wars is predominately a Space Fantasy. I think there's a decent argument to be made for it, though, for those who might wish to explore that. But personally I feel that would need to be approached cautiously, with an eye to the thought it would most likely be an extremely rare ability and very risky to attempt. It's a neat thing to imagine, but an easily abused concept.

Then again... we've already got the pure magic of Force alchemy. So... perhaps not much of a stretch after all.
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Offline SquigglyV

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #7 on: 06/26/18, 07:49:10 PM »
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Barriss Offee apparently straight-up cured an ansionian of some generic but serious mental issues in the Approaching Storm book. It's probably not something just anyone could do, Barriss was one of the best Jedi healers at that time IIRC, but that shows it's at least possible to do.

Barriss was far from an ideal Jedi though, so who knows how the rest of the Order would feel about blatantly altering someone's mind like that? Like bling said, I imagine forcefully removing all of those issues rather than helping them through a proper treatment would be kinda controversial at best and potentially disastrous if someone got it wrong. Especially with tolerant SWTOR-era Jedi who are less about "no emotions ever or else" and more about "emotions are ok if you keep them balanced."

Offline recoveringgeek

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #8 on: 06/26/18, 08:28:17 PM »
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http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Mind_trick/Legends

Quote
Usage of the mind trick was a moral issue for the Jedi, as it did violate the individual's free will and conscience. Thus, the Jedi were strictly prohibited from using it for personal gain (such as in betting or bargaining), reserving its use for when it would serve the greater good (greater good could also be sometimes a reason to overlook this restriction); the Sith and other Dark Jedi, however, had no qualms about the usage of the ability.

Quote
When instructing Jedi students, Yarael Poof stressed that a user must be mindful when utilizing this ability, that their target was nevertheless a living being with a life of their own, and that extra precaution must be exercised as their command could potentially ruin their target's life.[1] Mind tricks could also be used to convert individuals to fight for another. The clone Starkiller was proficient at that technique.[20] During the Galactic Civil War, Emperor Palpatine twisted the wills of Imperial units such as Strike force Alpha to the dark side so that if a Jedi tried to convert a unit, they would commit suicide.[21]

Quote
Force fear was a dark-side Force power and possibly a dark-side variant on the Jedi mind trick, used around 4000 BBY by Sith and Jedi with dark-side tendencies. The wielder would strike directly at the deepest parts of the target's mind, causing an uncontrollable shaking fear that would wreak havoc with the target's capabilities. Through pure force of will alone, a user could cause them to lose their courage completely, and if left undefended, the effects could be severe, rapidly demoralizing the enemy with a feeling of hopelessness and regret. Depending on the victim, it would caused them to either cower defenselessly or flee from their opponent outright.

Quote
Force fear had two advanced variants: Force horror and Force insanity. Force horror enabled the Force user to cause multiple enemies to enter into a catatonic state of panic that was more severe and more difficult to defend than the basic Force fear. In similarity, Force insanity also enabled the Force user to affect multiple enemies at once, although to an even greater range than its predecessor. As the most advanced form of Force fear, its effect was much more devastating, with the victims possibly descending into an utter state of frenzied madness and deranged mania as their situation seemed to suddenly become hopeless.

Quote
The mind twist was a variation of the mind trick developed by Daegen Lok where he intruded into another's consciousness and twisted their perception of reality to suit his own ends. Lok's skill with the ability was such that he was able to convince Xesh that he was suffocating, and he convinced Bel Zana's mind that she was on fire to the point where her body exhibited burn marks.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Voss_healing_ritual

Quote
The Voss species developed a ritual that allowed healers to draw strength from many to heal an injured patient, and it was a common and ancient technique by the time of the Cold War. The Sith Lord Fulminiss corrupted the ritual after learning it, using a form of the technique to drive individuals mad across great distances.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Force_healing/Legends

Quote
A variation of this power was Force Purification, as well as Force Assist which was a Force technique that enabled the user to heal people other than themselves, and with enough concentration, the user was able to heal others bodies and minds simultaneously.
I knew some of the Palace history, but not the bit about Jaade crashing that barge. That's good lore, right there.  :grin:

Offline recoveringgeek

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #9 on: 06/26/18, 08:34:48 PM »
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http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Meditation/Legends

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A technique employed by the Jedi Order, Empty Meditation was recommended to students as a means to center oneself and find deep inner peace and purge negative emotions. Establishing an emotional anchor, Jedi used the technique for centuries despite purges and war.

I knew some of the Palace history, but not the bit about Jaade crashing that barge. That's good lore, right there.  :grin:

Offline Hawking

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #10 on: 06/26/18, 08:40:22 PM »
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This has been on my mind, too, given all of Aspasia's various strife-filled episodes and lived experiences. Echoing what Bling, Niarra and Wymarc have said said, I find the intersection between Jedi philosophy and Jedi science to be the best bit of this discussion. To what extent is the disease treated as a medical issue when it has the potential to fundamentally affect the mental and psychic faculties that are necessary to Jedi-ing? Could the Jedi use their tele-empathetic abilities and advanced understanding of medical science to treat the physiological and biological elements of the afflictions? Could the Force be somehow used to manage serotonin and dopamine in the way that we do in the real world with medication?

More importantly, would they? Or would a therapeutic approach be more in line with Jedi spirituality, given that overcoming emotional adversity and enduring trauma is a part of the Jedi path? The Jedi do practice healing through the Force when they could theoretically just use standard 'mortal' medicine for physical injury, would that change when the brain and by extension mind are threatened or injured, when so much of the Force is construed mentally? In a weird way it's a philosophical argument that would be more pronounced in the setting than in real life, although there are similar debates in discussions regarding the ability of people to serve in the armed forces or policing with mental illness. They're debilitating things to live with for we mere earthling mortals, let alone for space wizards who have a sworn (and potentially rather stressful) duty to defend all life, and who throw things around with their minds. If that wasn't enough, they have stringent beliefs about the management of emotion and behaviour, two things which can be fundamentally and dramatically affected by mental illness. It opens up a can of worms that is certainly pushing the limits of the setting, but surely symptoms such as mood swings would present a serious threat to a Jedi's capacity to Jedi. If Star Wars were a hard sci-fi piece rooted in realism, maybe we'd see Jedi falling to the dark side simply due to struggles with mental illness. That's a hard thing to convey without being trite and potentially dismissive of serious real world issues, and probably why things that may realistically result in legitimate psychological damage in the setting often manifest themselves more as ambiguous emotional responses of 'deep sorrow', 'spiritual exhaustion', and so on. They're expressed as less direct, symbolic representations to get the same feeling across. This is probably why you also get more holistic approaches to healing these things in the fiction, by way of undertaking spiritual journeys or confronting the source of the trauma in a fantastical (or not) way. Same goes for expressly medical problems; this is space magic, waving your hands without delving too deeply into the science is a legitimate and even preferable way of mending flesh. For our purposes, the Force is an excellent narrative device for this reason; it's all about the intersection between the will, behaviour and feelings of the individual and the giant energy thing which lets you perform superhuman feats, including healing, provided you play by its rules and work within its limitations.

Went wildly off topic here, but, I'll surmise by referring to how the Legend of Korra dealt with this issue, with some spoilers from Book 4. Spiritual damage and psychological damage are treated as roughly equivalent. The magic water can fix the body, but healing the mind to an extent where the injured person can fulfill their responsibilities and make use of their abilities is a journey and a battle requiring dedication and some suffering.

Side note: does make you wonder how this sort of thing would be dealt with by the Sith, if dealt with at all? Separate thread, maybe.


EDIT:

Echoing what bling said regarding how it would be LIKELY treated; nothing invasive. Using the Force in limited magnitude to guide recovery over time, fiddling with the biology where absolutely necessary. Oddly, a bit like we do in the real world, permitting a swap of the Force for technology and medicine. Maybe there aren't any better answers in space for this?
« Last Edit: 06/26/18, 08:53:32 PM by Hawking »

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Offline SquigglyV

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #11 on: 06/26/18, 11:11:46 PM »
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If Star Wars were a hard sci-fi piece rooted in realism, maybe we'd see Jedi falling to the dark side simply due to struggles with mental illness.

I think we do kind of see that sometimes, or at least something close. I mean, how many Jedi have fallen because they had an unhealthy obsession with bringing back dead friends and family? Or because they were paranoid, or traumatized, or worse. Vitiate isn't a fallen Jedi but it's outright stated that he completely lacked empathy as a child, and Anakin pretty obviously has issues all over the place, just to give two examples.

Side note: does make you wonder how this sort of thing would be dealt with by the Sith, if dealt with at all? Separate thread, maybe.

I think it fits here, it would be a looot darker to discuss tho lol. I wouldn't be surprised if most Sith actively tried to worsen any preexisting conditions in their apprentices just to get that extra emotion out of them, you don't "fix" someone when their flaws could easily be turned to your advantage.

And unless you're a cute and cuddly Sith like Zash, you should know how to push your apprentice's buttons. Or even if you are cuddly, just do it in a subtler way or save it for when they screw up. Either they'll hate/fear you and grow stronger because of it or they'll be easy to manipulate for other purposes.

I imagine they could easily get rid of any issues if they wanted to, because alchemy is extremely overpowered and can radically alter minds, but i'd be willing to bet that the majority of Sith don't even see themselves as flawed in the first place. Paranoia, mood swings, insomnia, obsessive rituals, and so on are kinda par for the course when you're an evil sorceress, is it a mental health issue or is it justified? Most Sith probably think it's the latter, and the Medical Corps can't tell if you're actually being hunted by assassins from a rival Sith anyway so why listen to them?

Offline Cyone

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #12 on: 06/28/18, 02:53:40 AM »
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Meditation.

Offline Karmic

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #13 on: 06/28/18, 07:52:31 AM »
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Sith would DEFINITELY need to be another thread...

Its such a different mechanics of discussion on how they would handle "mental health issues."

Starting with the reality that within Sith society; they aren't mentally ill to begin with.  Because yes Squigg, much of what we consider "mental health disorders" for their society/culture would be encouraged and praised/fed.  Cultural relevance counts when you're "diagnosing" mental health issues; therefore, *we* (as in humans from this world) couldn't even consider such "personality traits" disordered.  It is also always a criteria that the set of symptoms, "create significant issues in daily life" for the individual being diagnosed, something else that would cause issues we treat as "mental illness" to be considered "normal and fine" in a Sith.  And therefore, never seen as a problem.

So yea, entirely different consideration and subject :).  Something I have talked about (at length) over the years with various players who have been interested in having the discussion.

Because no, you can't really be a Canon Sith without also being a Psychopath - and while that is not a diagnosis itself, the trifecta of personality disorders that create Psychopathology, are.  And if you aren't that type of person before you start Korriban/Sith training; you *will* become one if it doesn't kill you first.  But of course in Sith-Land, its not "psychopath" and "personality disorders" its "What we All Strive to Achieve."  So, not a disorder.

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Offline Karmic

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Re: Jedi and mental disorders
« Reply #14 on: 06/28/18, 07:52:59 AM »
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edit: woopsie - ignore this!

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