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Wizard psychology

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Image:Scroll2.png "Stop playing god, they said. Right there and then, I realized they were right... just playing was not enough anymore."
- Sagallius the Ascended, journals

Wizard psychology refers to common tendencies regarding the mental condition of wizards. While a majority of wizards are perfectly normal people, physically and mentally, the quest for knowledge can have dire consequences on one's mind; the further one delves into arcane lore, the worse this gets.

Contents

Overview

Wizards are often regarded by common people as eccentric as best, lunatic at worst. While there is certainly a popular stereotype at play, it builds on foundations of partial truth. Many scholars have expressed an opinion that people were not created to handle magic, that it is an alien force not meant for mortal bodies and minds. It has been claimed that magic warps the mind of all who practice it - a few people are just changed much more than others. Indeed, some have questioned the generosity of the gods who gave magic to man. It is a complex and unresolved philosophical matter with heated supporters on either side; those who note that Humans would likely not have survived this far without magic, and those who point out that magic is a treacherous force that has claimed as many lives as it has saved.

Mental deviations have been observed in many practitioners of the magical arts. These can be broadly divided into two categories; neural changes that are a direct consequence of using magic, and psychological changes that stem from being able to do what others cannot. While common people will not distinguish between the two, there is an important difference. The first type is the result of a single, traumatic event such as severe overgiving; the second type builds slowly over the years, to the point that the wizard slips into it little by little, without even realizing it.

Neural trauma

Overgiving is the single worst thing that can happen to a wizard, and it is the price of using powerful personal magic. It is the consequence of breaking one's limits with severe overexertion. More serious cases are permanent. Sometimes it affects the body, sometimes the mind. The user may or may not be aware that their mental processes have changed; a wizard who realizes they have changed is much more dangerous (and generally more intelligent) than one who does not. The main reason for danger is that a wizard with awareness of their own mental alterations can hide them and pretend to be normal as long as it benefits them. Deep inside, though, they are no longer the person they used to be.

Trauma can happen in other ways than overgiving, and is not limited to personal magic users, though they are by far the most likely to experience it. Whenever massive amounts of magical powers are involved and out of control, the mind can potentially suffer. It is impossible to list every mental aberration that is a consequence of magic, though the following is a partial attempt.

  • Sociopathy, either focused on some groups, races and categories or pretty much against anyone and anything.
  • Loss of self-control; user yields to instinct and loses sense of morality and restraint in order to seize what he wants.
  • Obsession over someone or something to the point of it becoming the sole reason of existence.
  • Paranoia, everyone is an enemy, everyone is working for a hostile deity, everyone is an assassin; they are everywhere.
  • Developing strange, shocking habits and customs, some of which can be defined gory and inhuman.

The most unsettling trait of trauma-related alterations is that the user does not need a reason for doing what he does; he can be insane for insanity's sake. Even if he nominally acts in order to obtain "something", when asked about what he plans to do with that power he may just shrug the question off as something unimportant. It is theorized that this regression is due to a part of the subject's mind being missing due to trauma.

Wizard's Suspicion

Wizard's Suspicion is not a clinical disease, but a common tendency for wizards to distrust fellow wizards they work with, especially if they have been involved in dangerous experiments, on the basis that they might have gone insane and be hiding it. Since wizards are aware that virtually any of their own could be a madman in disguise, they tend to be suspicious of their own comrades, which makes the task of managing a magical community very difficult.

Psychological effects

Magic also has psychological effects that do not derive from incidents, but simply from people's nature. It is said that magic brings out the true nature of those who practice it; good people do good things, bad people do bad things. Most people behave in certain ways because they are just ordinary individuals - when given extraordinary powers, their hidden desires and tendencies may overwhelm them, destroying their sense of morality. Some psychological tendencies that have been observed in magic users include the following.

  • Predestination complex. When one can command powerful magic, they might be inclined to think they can do so for a reason, that they have a "mission".
  • God complex. The next step involves thinking that one is superior to common mortals because of one's magic. Some wizards think of people as puppets or worthless items. In milder cases, the user just considers others beneath him or her because of the ability to do what is impossible for most.
  • The end justifies the means. These users think that their magic is meant to be used to its fullest extent, and possibly to get away with things they would ordinarily be punished for. They tend to think themselves above the law, and setting the law for others to follow.
  • Addiction. Some magic users are incredibly addicted to their power, and if unable to use it for any reason they will experience withdrawal-like symptoms, up to and including nervous breakdowns.
Part of a series of articles on Magic
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Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology