Jump to content

How to apply and treat modern day mental illness in the Bronze Age


Recommended Posts

Hello, I am curious as to what mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or depression would be categorized as in Glorantha.  Would they be considered a disease or sickness? Would they be attributed to or assumed to be a type of possession? Or could they be lumped into chaos wounds? I am with a group attempting to apply schizophrenia to a playable character but I am playing a chalana arroy initiate. So I am wondering if this is something I would recognize and attempt to cure or if I would just let them live with the disorder. Thanks. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally speaking, diseases and disorders have a mythical or spiritual cause in Glorantha (see RQG p154), so mental illness would be caused by some kind of disease spirits. There are precedents for that, such as the Lunes (RQG Bestiary p181), or one of @Crel's Monster of Month issues (#2 I think?).

That said, it's really up to you and your group to figure out how to treat it. If someone in the group wants to explore themes like coping with mental illness and dependence on medication to stay functional in society, then you could rule that the disease spirit has been encroached onto the character's soul for way too long and can't be removed easily... so your Chalana Arroy initiate may have to do regular rituals to appease it, slowly eroding its influence with some luck (but maybe not), but without being able to remove it outright. Maybe also you have to deal with some occasional outbreak/breakdown of the character when the spirit stirs inside their body. Who knows...

So my point is: figure out what the other player wants out of their character concept, and come up with some way to make it interesting and satisfying, maybe even coming up with a couple house rules.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am working with Chris Bell on a writeup of a HeroQuest to treat PTSD amongst Humakti.

You could treat such illnesses as diseases, as possession by a passion Spirit or as having a particular Passion. So, having a passion of Depression 70% means that you could roll it to see if it has an effect on a certain day or in a certain situation. It is not an ideal model, by any means, but could work.

There are few deities with abilities to treat mental illness, everything seems to focus on treating wounds or diseases. I would have no problem with a Treat Mental illness skill or a Cure (Mental Illness) spell, such as Cure (Depression).

There are some people who have "owned" their illness, taking it and accepting it as part of themselves, so treating them might be taking away an important part of their persona.

In the real world, there is evidence that trepanning was used in the Stone Ages and Bronze Age, possibly to treat certain types of mental illness. I am not sure of Chalana Arroy cultists are allowed to perform operations, as they involve shedding blood, which is forbidden. But, drilling hole in someone's head to let the demons out is a good Bronze Age technique.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

WTF?  News to me.  Pulling out a splinter (or arrow) sheds blood too. Setting a bone causes brief pain.  Yet CA perform First Aid all the time.   There is no basis for your claim.

It's all down to interpretation. Perhaps shedding blood was incorrect, doing harm is more accurate.

The RQG Chalana Arroy writeup says:

Quote

An initiate must take an oath never to harm an intelligent creature or needlessly cause pain to any living thing. 

That could easily be taken as no operations, as that involves causing harm. Causing pain is covered by needlessly,which is fine.

Cult Compendium says:

Quote

Lay Members also must take an oath never to harm a living creature and to aid all within the limits of their ability.

Again, it's interpretation.

In our RQ2 campaign, we played that Chalana Arroy cultists could not harm living creatures, so could not perform operations. The Seven Mothers healers could do so, as could Ernaldan healers, so they were the surgeons. There are a number of other healer cults who can probably perform operations.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, soltakss said:

That could easily be taken as no operations, as that involves causing harm

Easily?  So real-world doctors, whenever they operate, violate the Hippocratic Oath?

That argument aside, I'm very interested in seeing what you and Chris work out with Passions for handling Humakt PTSD.  A couple of our PCs are trying to "cure" Arlanda the Rat Girl (from Dregs of Clearwine, https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/320700/The-Dregs-of-Clearwine) of her serious and deadly Hazia addiction.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
tone down, add followup to Arlanda
Link to post
Share on other sites

A concept such as mental illness would only be applied if there was a change in someone. If someone has a significant, long-term change in their personality then it would be attributed to magical causes such as being cursed, infected by chaos, relife sickness (post-resurrection syndrome), possessed by a spirit, etc. Shamans and divinations to the character's deity would probably be part of the diagnosis process.

For someone that was born with or developed something like schizophrenia from a young age, it would be considered how they were supposed to be. It could be attributed to a curse on their parents, being born under the wrong star, etc. and would mechanically be represented through their runes and passions. Probably a high Disorder rune, most obviously, and some screwed up passions. The more severe cases would be assumed to either be Eurmal or a taint of chaos, bringing shame on their family.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Scorus said:

For someone that was born with or developed something like schizophrenia from a young age, it would be considered how they were supposed to be. It could be attributed to a curse on their parents, being born under the wrong star, etc. and would mechanically be represented through their runes and passions. Probably a high Disorder rune, most obviously, and some screwed up passions. The more severe cases would be assumed to either be Eurmal or a taint of chaos, bringing shame on their family.

Or it could be that they were chosen early to a form of Shamanhood, Odayla, or other esoteric calling. It does not have to be a negative. The star can just be unusual instead of wrong. That said anything that drives a person to Eurmal is pushing the boundaries. Though I do use it for cases like the village idiot, where someone who is kin still needs a place in the clan. #notalltricksters

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

In our Lunar campaigns, Deezola had a Cure Madness spell.  Which often came in handy.  🙂

Isn't that really a nasty "Remove Blessing" magic if you are a Lunar who values the insights that result from insanity?

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Or it could be that they were chosen early to a form of Shamanhood, Odayla, or other esoteric calling. It does not have to be a negative. The star can just be unusual instead of wrong. That said anything that drives a person to Eurmal is pushing the boundaries. Though I do use it for cases like the village idiot, where someone who is kin still needs a place in the clan. #notalltricksters

Good point, and these are all just my opinions! More conservative people, which I think many Orlanthi would be, would believe that unusual=wrong. Most Orlanthi non-shaman parents would wonder what curse was on them that THEIR kid was born to be a *gasp* shaman! Similar to a family with a rich warrior tradition that ends up with a Chalana Arroy or Nandan son. One of my players is a son of a noble Orlanth-worshipping family who ended up with the Water instead of the Air rune dominating him. He is not an outcast by any means, but there is no question that the rest of the family feels that there is something very wrong with him (and, in fact, there is a magical reason for that which he is unaware of). And I'm still trying to figure out how his mother will react when they discover that his loyal Orlanth brother actually wants to be a Vingan! But only the most extreme cases would result in an Eurmal or charges of a chaos taint.

In general, people who were born with something like schizophrenia would not be viewed as sick, only different. They would not be blamed though their parents or clan leaders might, depending on what the difference ends up being blamed on/caused by. I would expect divinations to be cast to discover what ancestral wrongs need to be righted. And if I had someone like that in my campaign I would not seek to cure them so much as figure out where they fit into the extremely diverse, and honestly wacky, world that is Glorantha.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

In our Lunar campaigns, Deezola had a Cure Madness spell.  Which often came in handy.  🙂

I think the mind-blasting Lunar magics are something different from "mental illness" in the OP's usage (BRP-family games are, in general, not actually good at "realistic" mental-health issues (in all fairness:  very few RPG's are!)).
 

But it makes good sense for Deezola to have some Lunar-specific insights... and resultant remedies.

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Scorus said:

Good point, and these are all just my opinions!

Yes. Not attacking you. Just looking at it from another perspective. I apologise if it came off as agressive.

10 hours ago, Scorus said:

More conservative people, which I think many Orlanthi would be, would believe that unusual=wrong. Most Orlanthi non-shaman parents would wonder what curse was on them that THEIR kid was born to be a *gasp* shaman!

While I agree that the Orlanthi are conservative my take is that 15% of the population going to "unusual" cults is usual enough that their conservatism can encompass it. Even as recently as my parents' generation space was made in normal, VERY conservative, society for folk we now call mentally ill. My narcoleptic grandfather and schizophrenic great uncle both had ordinary space in a conservative community. It's a case of "different but kin". In a preindustrial society, particularly one where kinship imposes enforcable religious obligations, this will be exacerbated.

Additionally the conditions aren't medicalised in Orlanthi society. They're not something to be cured, but a calling from the gods. The way you are born or initiated is what you are. I don't see the Orlanthi looking to "cure" these. Individual parents may be disappointed (as my mother was in apologising for my not having a "real" job some 25 years into my theatrical career) but I don't see it as being systemic. Add to that Orlanthi are "conservative" about very different things to RW conservatives.

PTSD, Lunar madness, and spirit possession (IE things that are imposed by the world) are different. These are disturbances to the essential nature of the person and may (or may not. Cf. Relife sickness*) require remediation.

10 hours ago, Scorus said:

In general, people who were born with something like schizophrenia would not be viewed as sick, only different. They would not be blamed though their parents or clan leaders might, depending on what the difference ends up being blamed on/caused by. I would expect divinations to be cast to discover what ancestral wrongs need to be righted. And if I had someone like that in my campaign I would not seek to cure them so much as figure out where they fit into the extremely diverse, and honestly wacky, world that is Glorantha.

As above, I don't see blame being cast at all. It's the will of the gods (a very conservative position). Somebody changing radically I can see as a catalyst for inquiry. 

* Uleria as the treater of Relife Sickness? 

21 hours ago, g33k said:

Elsewhere, I've seen it argued persuasively that Uleria may be the primary deity for healing of emotional & mental issues, relationship-counselling, etc...

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Yes. Not attacking you. Just looking at it from another perspective. I apologise if it came off as agressive.

No need for apologies! I just realized that I needed to get an IMO in there!

15 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Additionally the conditions aren't medicalised in Orlanthi society. They're not something to be cured, but a calling from the gods. The way you are born or initiated is what you are. I don't see the Orlanthi looking to "cure" these.

This is the point I was trying to make. People whose personalities had significant changes might be seen as needing a cure of some sort, but those born with it are just how they are supposed to be. Though individuals might see it differently.

15 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

* Uleria as the treater of Relife Sickness?

A good Uleria priestess can cure what ails ya!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of great points here. I'll chime in and agree that for one, the concept of mental illness is a modern one, and not really applicable outside modern pathology. Concepts of "madness" are culturally defined (including modern concepts of mental illness of of course, cf. homosexuality, being transgender, etc.), and so what is considered mentally aberrant/pathological behavior by one society can be seen as acceptable, or even desireable by another. Berserkergang in Norse society comes to mind. It would probably come under what we call psychosis nowadays, but under specific conditions, it was a blessing from Odin to the Norse (although its prevalence and importance is a bit exaggerated in pop culture). Similarly, behavior that we would consider schizophrenic (hearing voices, visions, etc.) would be compatible with ideas of spiritual possession or shamanic practices. There is some great anthropological writing that suggests how your culture views these phenomena influences that form inner voices take. In the industrialized/medicalized Western world, voices are often hostile and cruel, but in some other cultures they are supportive, positive. The difference seems to be the value associated with them (if your culture views them as the presence of a beloved ancestor, or a protective spirit, you might be likely to stress less over them, which might alter them. This is a complex topic in itself, though). I apologize if any of my examples were hurtful or weren't expressed in a good way, I'm trying to use them for illustrative purposes, so might have glossed them over overly simplistic.,

So, would depression, for example, be pathological/aberrant behavior to the Orlanthi? Well, depression is a lot of things, as I'm sure other people than me know more about. Some of it might be considered, some of it might not. If it makes you unable to carry out your expected duties to the detriment of your kin, and no other job can be found for you, then probably yes. Again, pathology is more socially contingent than something objective in itself. A mad farmer might be a very blessed shaman.

A lot of things we pathologize today might just be considered just variation of temper, as well. Not illness, just individual inclination (or, hell, cultural/racial - Pelorians seem to view Orlanthi as collectively unhinged).

Lastly, we should also consider that many people, and probably many in Gloantha, do not necessarily differentiate between mental and physical illness. Hell, doing so might be a weird quirk of dualistic, Christo-Cartesian Europeans. Regardless, the cause of a rash and the cause of unwelcome visions, lethargy, sudden aggression, confusion, paranoia, muteness etc. might all be fundamentally similar. There isn't really any inherent need to put these in separate camps. The cause of the aggression might be physical, and the cause of the rash might be spiritual.

 

I realize I've muddled things up a bit, so just to simplify here's a few points:


1. The perception of mentall illness, and whether certain behaviors are classified as such or not, is likely to be contingent on cultural and situational conditions. Perhaps make this in itself a roleplaying element?

2. The same phenomena that can be viewed as detrimental may be positive or even indicative of sacredness in certain contexts (see above).

3. There is no inherent, obvious need to separate the mental from the physical. This means that they can potentially be treated similarly from a mechanical point of view (I wouldn't know, unfortunately).

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...