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Author Topic: Publications in Dark Corners - The Road to Freedom  (Read 267 times)


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Publications in Dark Corners - The Road to Freedom
« on: March 11, 2023, 07:13:55 AM »
Copies of a publication appear in dark and forgotten corners of Dementlieu. Each have an intricate spiral pattern painted on the wall above them.

The Road to Freedom


Dimly, I recall life in the homeland. Labouring under the lash. The ache of hunger. The stench of death. It wasn’t real to me back then. Not until my tenth year. That was when they took father. That was when home broke. Suddenly, it became real in ways it never had been before. The burdens of living with tyranny are many, but the body isn’t so real as the heart. Family had been my world, the reality of my inner life, and the tyrant had broken it. It was a wound, and though it didn’t heal, it wasn’t fatal. I lived with the ache, even as it festered. Years would pass, and I would search for the words to express this wound.

Among the tools of control used by the tyrant is the denial of education. Literacy is not common in the homeland. You must learn the word of god from the tyrant, and no idea can travel widely. But I was fortunate. The gnome has become fashionable to use as a tutor, jester and tailor. Officially. Unofficially, we are also used as spies or assassins. So I learned my letters. I learned other things, too, but it was literacy that would begin to give me the words. The works of the alienist Doctor Gregorian Illhousen became my fondest companions. He wrote of how repression of one’s inner desires causes a sickness of the mind that ultimately results in outburst, if no other outlet is found. It is how he explained the madness of the homeland. For every soul was pious and dutiful under the light of the sun. But come nightfall? Violence. Lust. Hate. The powerful would cavort through the city, doing as they pleased.

Illhousen did not delve into the logical extension of his theories as they apply to the oppressed. But even his diagnosis of the powerful was electric. Never before had I encountered any human speaking so critically and so accurately of the tyrant. His works are practically myterri, disguised in plain sight as medicine. The language of the alienist gradually became a way for me to express the wound in my heart. I might have stayed there, half awake, in the cage of Nova Vaasa had my last tether to the world not been severed. Mother was not like father. She was exacting, and grim. She was a survivor. I don’t think there was much she wouldn’t do to give me a better world than she had. I will never know what task took her from me. Only that it took her to the bottom of a river. On that day, I fled the city on foot. I don’t recall the journey. I just walked, numb and sleepless, until I reached Barovia.

I did not know then how to live outside of the lists and orders of the tyrant. It was in Barovia that I learned how to be a person, from the compassion of others. Free of the shackles of the homeland I grew much and began the practice of alienism proper. I learned to live again, not by looking inward, but outward. By treating the trauma of others, and knowing the simple joy of releasing another of a burden. I discovered much more in this practice, and it is in this work that I hope to formally define my practice broadly. Treating others has come easily. Treating myself, has been impossible.

Ego and Shadow

Anyone familiar with alienist theory will know the terms ego and shadow. Even so, I will discuss them here that no one is left behind. We can conceptualises the mind as constructed of two equally important components: the ego and shadow. The ego is the conscious mind. It is rational thought, reason and (most) memory. It is easy for most of us to introspect and understand our ego. For its form is our own system of belief, logic and knowledge. It is our executive in the waking world. To assess the ego an alienist need only patiently and carefully interview a lucid subject.

The shadow is the unconscious mind. It is emotion, imagination and artistic inspiration. It is the world of our empathy, and our dreams. The shadow is much more complicated to assess with introspection, and the alienist must be empathetic and careful to assess the shadow of a subject. When we feel an emotion we have some grasp of the form the shadow has taken, for every emotion arises from our unconscious shadow. But repressed trauma, strange impulses, ingenuity, artistry. These things can only be crudely detected with introspection alone. So the alienist cannot grasp the depths of the shadow with interviews alone. Hypnotism and dream analysis both are popular for assessing the shadow of a subject. Why? Both involve states where the ego is rendered a passive observer of the subject’s inner world. When we dream, it is our unconscious expressing itself as our consciousness passively observes. Similarly, a hypnotic trance is a state in which the ego is rendered a passive observer of the shadow, while the hypnotist guides the subject.

Repression and Illness

It was Doctor Illhousen’s contention that the clinically insane are so afflicted due to a repression of their unconscious shadow. How does this come to be? It is as simple as denial. We are filled with emotional and creative impulses. When we are able to express them, all is well. But when we cannot? The impulse grows and grows. Without an outlet, it will express itself in outburst. Outburst takes many forms; it can be antisocial behaviour, sudden and inappropriate emotional impulses or even disruption of the ego altogether. The aim of the alienist in helping their patients is therefore to identify what has been repressed, and assist the patient in confronting and expressing it in constructive ways.

What prevents expression? There are many causes. It can be religious or cultural beliefs that cause a subject to deny themselves something that is important to them. It is the values of god that Illhousen suggested was the cause of nightly antisocial behaviour in the homeland. But in this work I wish to put forward another, much more pressing cause, of repression: need. Consider the conditions many, many people must labour under in the Core. Long hours at places of work, barely enough food to live on and a complete lack of security. How is it that such people may express the breadth of their shadow? How can they create what they dream of, taste the joys of life that all men deserve? The simple answer is; they cannot. Oppression does not only take the form of written laws, or faiths or even cultural institutions. It is economic. Practical demands force a self denial that, in my observation, often results in a deep melancholia. If a man is further denied food, and shelter, he will grow violent. I do not believe this is because violence was in the man’s nature. Rather, it is a twisting of his unconscious shadow.

This is proven by the fact that such people can be helped by the compassion of their community or a trained alienist. They will turn from violence when given an escape and the time to internalise it. But if the root cause of the repression is not removed, no lasting healing can occur. One might reasonably ask: where is the line, when it comes to repression? Is every societal value, every law, every economic inequality cause for disturbance? No. Quite the contrary; many, perhaps even most, laws and social values exist because they are gratifying to the collective. We do not outlaw killing, or theft, as an act of repression and control. We do it because we do not like to see others suffer. Our social norms exist to give us a sense of community, and a shared means of expressing ourselves. Extreme economic inequality will always be repressive, but in a society where each man need work only reasonable hours to support himself and his hobbies, an economic inequality produces something to aspire to. An achievement, for they that make exceptional contributions.  Anarchy is not the answer to repression, though I will contend in the next section that a state of anarchy is not necessarily a state of suffering.

The Heart of the Shadow

When we are born, what is the state of our Shadow? Before we have the word for smile, or joy, or love, we know it. An infant will smile when she sees another do the same. She will cry when she sees another in distress. The infant knows emotions like hate and anger but only as they relate to her own suffering. We are born innocent. There is nothing in our nature that wishes suffering upon another. As we grow, we are introduced to conflict and denial. Our shadow grows more complex, and our ego constructs for us a wide conceptualisation of the world. We have all known dislike of another. Anger. Even hate. But have we an urge to kill? To torment? No. These are not urges we generally struggle with. Even so, there exist examples of people who have grown sadistic, who believe they enjoy killing. I submit that such people are ill. They have been denied something essential, and so their shadow has grown warped. It is not the natural state of man to want to kill.

This point is important. I do not make it because I believe we must treat every sadist, every killer, as someone in need of healing. In an ideal world, we would. But such people need to be prevented from hurting others. All too often, that means killing them. I make no moral judgement about this, except to caution the would-be hero to reflect on whether they have done what is necessary. It is easy to fall into the trap of killing for hate, fear and glory. No, the importance of this point is in how we treat law and culture. Consider the fact that we outlaw murder. Do we believe that without this law we would regularly kill one another? No. The many choose not to kill one another because, fundamentally, we do not like to hurt others. We like to see others happy. Most of us aim to live good lives, and do not need laws to do so.

Consider the following case:

Orsolya Haraszti was born to a Gundarakite mother. Her father was a Barovian soldier in the Count’s army. I do not wish to be unnecessarily crude with my language here. Each time the Barovians have invaded Zeidenburg there have been many, many, instances of assault, murder and worse. Orsolya was conceived in a terrible instance of this. She grew up under the shadow of this terrible act. A reminder to her own people of what was done to them. But Orsolya was a remarkable woman. She looked without, and hated the suffering of her people. She lived to free them from the tyranny of the Count. In time, she tracked down her father. He had grown old, and feeble. No threat to anyone. She had intended to kill him, for the Evil he had done. But when she found him, she also found his daughter. Her half sister. A Barovian woman who had only known the father as caring. Despite all the wrongs done to Orsolya, and the Gundarakite people, Orsolya chose to leave her father in peace. Not for his sake, but that of her half sister. Orsolya was a dedicated and capable rebel. She fought the tyranny of the Count, and mistreatment of women, at every turn. She killed, when necessary. But when confronted with a personal killing, she refused. For her compassion for the innocent was profound.

Orsolya lived a life in defiance of written law, but even then adhered to a moral conviction arising from her empathy; her shadow. She confronted the root of her trauma, and chose love. The world is filled with such anarchic souls. I do not believe we need do away with laws, or cultural bonds. But they should exist only to uphold the spirit of the Shadow. I do not believe it is fear of punishment that keeps us from violating the law; only our love for others. This is why violation of the law arises only when need, or the law itself, represses the individual. It is therefore dangerous to adhere blindly to the law as written, for it is ultimately a collective illusion. Where the law conflicts with the moral good, it should be suspended. Not just for its practicality, but for the good we wish to foster in our fellows.

The Sickness of the Tyrant

I have discussed how it is that antisocial behaviour arises from repression. But it is an observable fact that many tyrants exhibit some of the worst antisocial behaviour of all men. Drakov, Strahd and Hazlik are each violently insane. More, the world is full of petty tyrants that delight in the suffering they inflict. Of men that believe that might makes right. These are powerful people, apparently subject to no repression, and still they express cruelty. What accounts for this?

One explanation that I have found to be reasonably well supported in my interviews with the tyrant is that some element of repression in their upbringing, often suffering a great cruelty, warped their own shadow. They were wounded, and never healed, and so they lash out. But this isn’t quite enough for such a thing to grow with time, for them to lash out so. No, there is another more universal cause of their repression that only grows with time: threat. The tyrant is not stupid. They know that their rule will last only as long as they have the power to maintain it. The wicked seek power, endlessly, in the belief that they will be destroyed without it. Seeded in their very existence is an endless threat, that can never truly be overcome. Where the just leader, the kind man, sees in others support the tyrant sees only threat. The tyrant is, at heart, profoundly afraid. So it is that they are driven deeper and deeper into a violent madness. Endlessly stepping on others in an effort to soothe the terror that is never silent.

Consider the following case:

Erzsebet was a Gundarakite devoted to a cruel god. She would speak of rebellion, of liberating the Gundarakite, but only insofar as it secured the service of would-be rebels. She would regularly turn her own people in to the Garda if they inconvenienced her, and use her underlings in crude and perverse ways. For her, it was always a matter of power and control. When the Black Army liberated much of Gundarak without using the cruelty of her dark god, Erzsebet became a collaborator with the Tyrant. She assisted the oppressor willingly, and murdered Black Army leadership. She betrayed her own people, liberty and the common good. Why? Unlike Orsolya, she had been thoroughly repressed. Indoctrinated into a cruel cult, she was unable to see the world in terms other than that of the tyrant; power and control.

I chose the case of a “rebel” to make my point here. It is easy for the oppressed to become the oppressor when they forget the values that called them to resist in the first place. When hate and cruelty are the core of a subject’s motivation, they fall to the malady of the tyrant. When might makes right, the individual can never truly be free. They will forever be constrained by threat, unable to build a world they themselves are not trapped in.

Realising the Shadow

In my youth I wrote about “awakening” the shadow. I will write more on this, in time, but it is not for public print. At the time I thought it important not just to heal, but to push someone to be exceptional. I have observed supernatural effects in doing so, but such practice was arrogant. To push others is to do more than an alienist should. It is to abuse a trust placed in a doctor by a patient.  So I wish to amend my earlier publication here: the ambition of the alienist should be to realise the Shadow of the subject, not awaken it.

We classically employ the alienist to treat the insane; those that have experienced significant outburst. This is important, of course, but I believe the practice should extend to the tending of the wellness of all. One need not be insane, to have some degree of repression. I think it a rather universal state. We should aim to help all in our communities with their trauma, grief, ambitions and dreams. We should recognise where repression is being driven by economics, and insist that the State work to correct it.

The road to freedom is long, but worth it.

Dr. K.V.