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Horde Psychology: A Primer, by Hester

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject: Horde Psychology: A Primer, by Hester Reply with quote

A player named Hester (on the Cenarion Circle server) put this gem up on the WoW forums. I think it is quite insightful, so I figured I would share it with the people here. Just to reiterate: this is Hester's work, NOT mine.

Though it does tie in pretty nicely with the travelogue. Wink

The original forum thread is here:

An Introduction to Horde Psychology
By Hester Dandritch


The events of the last few years have uprooted ancient cultures, broken apart families and tribes, and set brother against brother. We have seen scores of clammy, trembling grunts going back to their third or fourth tours of duty with the bandages still fresh from the last. It is no surprise that we've seen such a great surge of madness from Undercity to Orgrimmar. Despite all this, the notion that emotional disturbances can be treated using scientific methods (indeed, that they can be treated at all) has yet to gain currency in Azeroth.

Psychiatry- the mending of broken minds- has its roots in Alliance science. It was invented by Zygysmund Furoydus, a kindly, inquisitive Gnome who wanted to uplift his despairing allies but was frustrated by his race's inability to wield the Light. Typical of his kind, Furoydus turned to science. He conducted most of his early research on inmates before using the techniques he developed to treat Dwarvish soldiers suffering from shell shock. The little doctor's strange personal questions and detached manner were off-putting to many of the Dwarves, but their unease turned to grudging respect as their symptoms diminished. Zygysmund first synthesized his theory of psychiatry with the publishing of his book, "Demons And Delusion: When Not to Call an Exorcist."

The Gnome's fledgling practice in Gnomeregan was beginning to make inroads when the disastrous Trogg invasion and irradiation of the city destroyed his office, sending his colleagues scrambling to Ironforge. His students were able to salvage some of their own copies of his manuscripts, but most of the doctor's research was never recovered. Furoydus himself has not been seen since the fall of Gnomeregan and his condition is unknown. Thus, psychiatry never gained the stature it deserved and is still regarded as little more than Darkmoon-style hucksterism.

Because this original research is now lost to the ages, the psychiatrist may find himself reinventing the wheel. Our field is effectively still in its infancy and we must conduct most of our studies in isolation. We face tremendous challenges when we diagnose mental disease- the first of which is determining if the cause of the patient's suffering is, in fact, scientific or magical in origin. Possession, hexes, curses, afflictions, bad juju...the outward appearance of all of these can mimic madness. Furthermore, there is considerable overlap between the mentally ill and the victims of shadow and fel magicks, because a weak mind is porous, vulnerable to malevolent influences.

We put ourselves at risk when we stand nose to nose with these adversaries, but far more dangerous is letting them run unfettered to enfeeble our comrades. In the next few chapters, I'll discuss at length the ways mental illness manifests itself in the Horde races, and how psychiatry can be applied to relieve them.

A psychiatrist working for the Horde must bow to the fact that psychosocial differences among the races are real and that they can have a profound impact on treatment outcomes. I'll do my best here to outline some general truths about the racial differences without descending into broad stereotyping.

The Forsaken Psyche

On the whole, the Forsaken present with the greatest number of behavioral disturbances. More than any other race, they are afflicted with dysthymia, obsessive compulsive disorder, moral insanity, and, most strikingly, retrograde amnesia. Despite this, Forsaken are by far the least likely to seek treatment simply because they accept these imbalances as their common nature. As for Forsaken who strive to cure these disturbances, they face a dark road to recovery.

The process of death and undeath robbed many Forsaken of their memories. Most are missing large chunks out of their biographies. Others can remember episodes from their past life, but are emotionally disconnected from these narratives and do not identify with them. Many have forgotten nearly everything about life before undeath. Utterly tabula rasa, these uncanny orphans have been thrust into a disorienting new world with no experiences to draw upon. Is it any wonder, then, that Forsaken lack fellowship with their living allies?

For many Forsaken, therefore, identity and self worth rests not on "I was" or "I am", but "I do". They throw themselves into single-minded fixation, hitching themselves a grand goal with no familial or social obligations to distract them. They become obsessive collectors, researchers and cataloguers. This cold intensity is perceived by others as ruthlessness.

Many psychiatrists avoid treating the Forsaken out of prejudice. Convinced that the trauma of death and the slavery of Scourge have robbed us of our selves, the skeptics view psychological treatment as futile. On the contrary, we Forsaken have strong wills of our own and will work tirelessly to improve ourselves if we can be convinced treatment is to our advantage. And it usually is, for the stronger a Forsaken's mind is, the more power he has to resist the call of the Lich King.

A hardy race, the undead present the psychiatrist with treatment options that would be murderous if attempted on a patient with a pulse. Psychotic Forsaken respond well to electroshock therapy. Many undead patients reportedly enjoy the rush of the procedure and some have even begun to malinger simply to gain access to shock treatment.

A second, crude option is brain surgery. The healer should take care, however, because surgery can have some unexpected consequences. Strange personality changes are not uncommon. Depending on the severity of the disorder, it may be wise to leave this option as a last resort.

Forsaken who have retained some of their "natural", living characteristics can benefit from mesmerism. This technique has been shown to improve postmortem memory issues and may be effective in recovering living memories lost in death.

At the other end of the spectrum, undead with extremely limited intelligence (i.e., abominations) can be trained to limit negative behaviors through operant conditioning.

Group therapy, as a rule, is not recommended for Forsaken. The undead have the weakest social bonds of all the races and generally display little empathy in these settings. Additionally, their presence tends to disrupt the group dynamic and hurt morale.[/url]
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Treating the Blood Elves

The Blood Elves have gained a reputation among the Horde for being high strung and "difficult". Much is made of the Sin'dorei addiction to magic, but there are more mundane causes for the nervous Blood Elf temperament as well.

The Sin'dorei population suffers from a high incidence of personality disorders- not the least of which is narcissism, which accounts for the race's infamous vanity. The preening serves as a fig leaf for the Blood Elves' psychological vulnerability, their unstable ego. A neurotic Blood Elf has a self-perception that shifts like a Tanaris hillside. One moment, he is crowing hollow slogans about the greatness of his might, his skills, his order, his people...the next, he is a sniveling worm racked by self-recrimination and insecurity.

These golden-haired Children of the Blood often have problematic relationships with their fathers. Traditional Blood Elf child-rearing practices are harsh, since many parents take their young in hand to mold them into the rigid social roles of a tiered society. Sin'dorei mothers have a tendency toward withholding. Some Blood Elves grow to adulthood with gnawing self-doubt, fearing they'll never be able to live up to their elders' high expectations. They speak guiltily of bringing shame on their ancestors for imagined infractions. The prospect of even a small failure fills them with crippling dread.

The Blood Elves are an effete, thrill-seeking people that require constant stimulation- mental, physical and otherwise- as a means of distracting themselves from gorging on magic. If a Blood Elf doesn't take care, his love of lurid amusement can descend into disgusting compulsions that can't be mentioned in polite company. Silvermoon City has garnered a few vulgar nicknames because of its reputation as a den of iniquity.

Mana addiction is an extremely thorny problem for the healer and patient. The dependency is, of course, born into the very marrow of the Blood Elves and cannot be cured, only managed. The psychiatrist must help the patient strike a balance between his mana requirements and his psychological health. Patience is the order of the day, as it may take some individuals years to get a handle on this dependency. One must take care never to pass judgement on an Elf who occasionally relapses.

Fortunately, Blood Elves are highly likely to seek psychological treatment on their own. Their intelligent, navel-gazing nature makes them especially self-aware, meaning they can complete treatment independently if required. This same trait also makes the Sin'dorei excellent candidates for introspective talk therapy.

Elves respond extremely well to hypnosis, deep relaxation and guided imagery. These techniques are second nature to them since their healthier forbears, the High Elves, perfected the art of meditation to manage their magic addiction. The trance state provides a shelter from the whirlwind force of his urges long enough for him to regain psychological footing.

The Tauren Mind

Generally speaking, Tauren are the most psychologically sound of all the Horde races. Shu'halo emotional resilience can be attributed to their good coping skills and extensive support network of kin and tribesmen. The Tauren personality is phlegmatic and tolerant, slow to anger.

Tauren social structure is communal and egalitarian, with many built-in psychic "escape valves" that prevent the pent up anxiety seen in other societies. This race is fond of celebrations, rites and milestones. Tauren rituals mark the growth and progress of an individual's life while giving her the liberty to choose the next step. Because of this, a Tauren rarely finds herself confused, overwhelmed or disoriented by her place in society.

This is not to say that mental illness is unheard of among the Shu'halo. Druids under stress are vulnerable to an unpredictable form of fugue in which the caster loses control of her senses while shapeshifted, assuming the mentality of a beast and dashing into the wilderness to escape her troubles. It is unknown how common this phenomenon is, as these souls rarely return to the fold.

As a result of the close-knit nature of their society, Shu'halo have a tendency toward "herd mentality". When confronted with a problem, a typical Tauren consults her elders for guidance, trusting in received wisdom rather than independent judgement. Her conformity may present a barrier to creative thinking and might hinder treatments that hinge on self efficacy and problem solving. This trait means Tauren patients respond especially well to group therapy, which is quite similar in structure to the traditional talking-circle.

Tauren typically set great store by tradition and may not be willing to try treatments that seem "unnatural". They may even resent opening up to a non-Tauren. The healer's job is to gain the trust of the patient and get her to "think outside of the box".
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Orcish Mind

While Orc-kind has come a long way since the days of Mannoroth, a great well of rage still boils just below the surface. Given their history, it is unsurprising that anger management issues are the single largest mental health threat in Orcish society. Manic depression, paranoid schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress, and borderline personality disorder are other common problems.

On account of their martial, hidebound value system, Orcs often see the world in black and white. In a healthy Orc this comes through as integrity and rugged virtue. In an unstable Orc, it is dogmatism, discomfort with ambiguity and a persecution complex bordering on (if not crossing into) paranoia.

The Orcish temperament is choleric. An Orc under duress is wont to repress his emotions until they burst like a dam. His anger unanswerable, he will throw a tantrum until exhaustion has taken his last ounce of strength.

This race suffers from more delusion than any other in the Horde. These garish false beliefs often take the form of unlimited power, might and glory. A mad Orc warlock once called me to his side so I could witness the summoning of a terrifying demonic force. "Behold, Azgalor!" he cried. The poor imp he mustered was not even higher than my knee.

The first barrier to treating an Orcish patient may be the defensive posturing so endemic to his hyper-masculine society. From a very early age, Orcs are taught to never let others know they are vulnerable. A grieving Orc is more likely to vent his frustration in one of the few acceptable venues- the arena or the battlefield- than to talk openly about his feelings. A psychiatrist working with an Orc will be challenged (perhaps literally) to gain his trust.

This robust, active race responds to treatments that employ physical action. Occupational therapy is often instructive for both the patient and the healer. Music therapy, especially percussion, can be cathartic for patients trying to get a handle on their anger. Similarly, artistic creation can do wonders for this race's emotional expression. An Orc who would never speak candidly about a traumatic experience in war may find his voice through the composition of heroic songs and stories.

Diagnosing the Darkspear Trolls

One of the key challenges in treating Troll patients is to realize that this race presents a large spectrum of behaviors that mimic pathology, but are in fact normal and functional in their society.

It is a common mistake to think that one can treat a Troll the same way one treats an Orc. As mentally deft as they are physically agile, Trolls are much less direct than their brutal comrades. Although your patient may appear primitive on the surface, be aware that he possesses that subtle intellect known as cunning.

Trolls do not typically enter therapy willingly. A deeply mistrusting and suspicious people, they may put up a front to avoid having to 'open up'. An inexperienced healer may swiftly be taken in by a Troll's breezy demeanor and glib charm. These patients are notorious at "faking good" and they're just shrewd enough to know what psychiatrists want to hear.

Trolls are famously superstitious. This race is culturally attuned to take guidance from "voodoo spirits" and see signs and visions in all but the most banal of experiences. A psychiatrist should never ascribe psychosis to a Troll simply because he senses things that aren't apparent to others. What's more, a misguided attempt to sever the connection between a Troll and his loa can be mortally hazardous. The methodology for distinguishing true communion with the spirits from mental illness will be detailed in an upcoming chapter.

The use of hallucinogens like shimmerweed is widespread among this race and is considered a normal component of shamanistic worship. Intervention is only recommended in extreme cases of habitual abuse. A healer who is unfamiliar with Darkspear religion and folk pharmacology the should work with witch doctors to set boundaries for responsible use.

Many beginning psychiatric students want to know what can be done to repress or pacify Troll berserker rage, but repression is the wrong approach. Berserking should not be treated as an abnormality that can be "corrected". This trait is an essential, deep-seated mechanism that discharges feelings of aggression that would otherwise become diffuse, purposeless and uncontrollable. The majority of Trolls who berserk are healthy by the standards of their peers. If berserking becomes problematic, the healer should treat the underlying generalized anger rather than attempt to eliminate beserking itself.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an awesome read, and a lot of fun. It certainly goes along with the travelogue. I just wish there was a second part psycho-analyzing the Alliance races (although that would probably be a bit less interesting to read)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, indeed, much less interesting because the human alliance is mainly humanoid to a point where you might just have to whip up the entire DSM... And gnomes are typical megalomaniacs while dwarves have an uninteresting case of violent tantrums aided by inebriation... The Night Elves... Now that might be interesting. And the Travelogue already tells about the only real condition that Draenei have: seclusion. Smile
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seclusion, and a herd-mentality bordering on a hive mind that makes the Tauren look like loners.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair, that's really more my interpretation of the draenei. They have less lore than any other playable race (except perhaps the gnomes), and the most vaguely sketched out society. There's a lot of room for interpretation.
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