What happened? Where did I go? (tw: abuse, language, mental illness; long)
I suffer from Schizotypal Personality Disorder. This is a type of schizophrenia, but you'd be surprised by the number of people without a master's degree who take the time out to gatekeep schizophrenia.
I'd like to talk about what this means. You can find the full list of symptoms here. I have 8 of those to a degree that required hospitalization and radically affect my life.
I have ideas of reference. This is like when someone believes the TV is sending them secret messages. Now, that isn't how mine presents. It's more. . .disruptive. I want to be clear that although I'm explaining this, the manifestation of it is horrible. It sounds interesting, but this isn't some story where I have a special power.
I'm driven by a pattern underneath the fabric of the universe. When I'm in public, I'm assaulted with the sensation that I'm in a river. I see (hallucinate) other possibilities and branches of the future constantly. The larger variety of outcomes, the more overwhelming it is. Before medication (which helps) this was so overwhelming, the stress of it caused me to have a blood clot.
What this literally means, is I think I can feel the outcome of actions and possibilities. I, if subjected to a double blind scientific study, can't of course. That's what makes it a hallucination. The universe is giving me information, and I can feel it pulling me. It tells me about the secret hearts of people. It shows me all the ways I could die, constantly.
It is, in a word, a nightmare—one that makes me never want to leave the house. The blood clot occurred because I thought it was normal, and I could just 'tough it out'. The reality is that every time I leave my house I was wound tightly enough for psychosis to occur. After years of being untreated, the spring broke, and I found myself hospitalized as parts of my body died from the literal stress of it.
How does this happen? Mental illness runs in my family. In the fall of 1980, my mother shoved me down a flight of stairs. All types of reported childhood trauma were significantly associated with SPD, in a linear fashion. This, the beatings, the verbal abuse, it's not a single incident.
I could have been different.
She's around. I've confronted her about this, along with therapy. She's even a professional on the internet. But there's no way she'll ever see this, because she's a narcissist. The reason my bi-polar mother shoved me down the stairs is that she was getting ready for visitors and she was mad at me because I had ruined her life and career by being born.
As an adult who spent years doing groups and providing therapy, I see her being overwhelmed, in crisis, and having her ability to control her impulses impaired in light of her misery. It was easier, in the depths of the lack of her self-esteem, to lash out at me when manic and suffering from her narcissism. She saw her flaws in me, and as every good narcissist knows, you have to hide your flaws right? You can't accept them. You can't love them.
This is not fresh trauma. I dealt with this years ago, (i.e. she chose to have me, and I'm not responsible for her unhappiness) and the lack of disfunction in my adult life is wonderful. Realizing that I've never raised my voice to my daughter, compared to my childhood where yelling, abuse, disfunction, and violence being the order of the day, it's blissful.
But I did not escape unscathed.
The Banality of the Human Animal
Think of the unquantified rage at all those people so upset when some schizophrenic on the internet doesn't do what they want.
When I was a child, which apparently is a long fucking time ago; the state propaganda pushed out by PBS told me that everyone was the same. I took it literally, as in "People are like me" instead of "each person is a unique individual of value worthy of unconditional regard" which is what it means.
It's not surprising, the shrunken areas of my brain due to abuse make me incapable of understanding nuance or sarcasm naturally. It's also why my writing is so concrete. (clinically, I naturally parse and discuss items literally and miss both verbal and written information 'between the lines', see "Odd thought and speech (eg, that is vague, metaphorical, excessively elaborate, or stereotyped)" from the diagnosis list) Thankfully due to my obsessive paranoia, I can usually work through to the subtext I'm missing.
The bottom line, is I'm not like you at all. In real concrete ways.
I only think things that don't fit into any sort of group or position. I do not experience loneliness. I desire acceptance, yet in order to have connections with people, I have to overcome a crawling revulsion of disgust of a web that lies beneath my skin.
The number of people willing to spew bile, lies, and threats at people suffering from mental illness while simultaneously presenting themselves of allies is eye-opening. You know what an ally of the downtrodden has? UNCONDITIONAL POSTITIVE REGARD FOR ALL HUMAN FUCKING BEINGS. The number of people who don't understand that, and propagate the violence that was done to them because they haven't processed their own damage is higher than I could have ever conceived, and written all over their timelines. The number of people willing to experience the presentation of my disease and remain in my life is even smaller.
Why did my blog go away? I was tired of reading (ostensibly 'woke') peoples rape and murder fantasies in my comments.
I'm still available, via discord, patreon, email, and on other social media, but I don't do social work any more. It's no longer my job, like it was for twenty long years, to deal with the trauma of the abused and help them work through it. If people are going to type out fantasies about hurting me and my daughter on the comment section on my blog, I'll gladly remove that avenue for people to abuse me.
I'm making a living from being a writer and illustrator. I don't need blog comments or blog posts to do that.
All life on earth is earth life. If you take a bee out and feed it, the other bees will watch the dance that guides the bees to where the food is. In the case that the bee is taken to an unlikely place to eat (e.g the middle of the lake) even though the food given in the middle of the lake was sugar rich and highly exciting to the bees, they don't go get the food.
It's because they know there's no food available in the middle of the lake. They don't believe him because they have a mind and understand the world. This has been the work of ethologists and behavioral scientists over the last 20 years.
What is science? Nothing more than a simple process by which we figure out what is actually happening in the universe. It's not an agenda. It's what's there regardless of you. And it's beyond your and my ability to understand. Consider expertise in the realm of chess.
If an chess playing adult were to play a game of chess with a five year old child, they would win 100% of the games. If a person ranked 1600 Elo, a semi-professional chess player who plays regularly and has a deep understanding of the game, were to play an untrained adult who knew how to play they would win 100% of the games. A grand-master would win 100% of their games against a person ranked 1600. Ignorance, understanding, expertise, and mastery.
We already know about Dunning-Kruger, and how your ego works to protect you from accepting that you are incompetent or lack knowledge. Your access to the internet and information does not give you expertise. In fact, if you haven't spent a few decades working with something, whatever thoughts and opinions you have about it appear as those of a five-year old child, demanding that their authority be recognized in a realm they don't even fully understand.
And as more of the universe becomes revealed, your beliefs are going to be challenged more and more. You can already see the inability to cope in public by our lead-addled elders, attempting to prosocute someone for looking at an html page source.
You are an expert at internet use, with thousands of hours and understanding, and his comment makes him look like a ignorant 5-year old child.
The same way people look at you when you have opinions and thoughts about things that experts hold, like perhaps gender, politics, economics, or 'science'.
This tide of anti-intellectualism is not new, it is constant . From prison, martyred theologian Dietrich Bonhoffer writes:
Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed. . . – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. . . The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. . . Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. . . The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence, and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. -1943
One of the great things about the OSR, and the release of 4th and 5th edition D&D, and the popularity of D&D on twitch is that they allowed us to answer several enduring discussions that have been floating about since the beginning of Gygax's role-playing game reformation (as if people hadn't been role-playing—excuse me, having rigid and free kriegspiel—for the previous two centuries.)
And yet, some remain evergreen.
RPGA (Role Playing Game Association, the ancestor of organized play) would continue to sponsor events in other companies’ games, but the . . . scenarios would have to be . . approved by the publishing company, and (as always) they had to conform to TSR’s official guidelines. The guidelines include the following:
“Profanity, obscenities, and vulgarity are not acceptable. Lust and sexual perversion should not be portrayed or implied in submissions.”
It was this clause that was cited when Richard Donnelly, then-president of a gaming group (and official RPGA club) dedicated to gays, lesbians and bisexuals called The Order of the Triangle, tried to get RPGA approval for a GURPS adventure which included gay characters. The RPGA refused, saying, “It is our policy that games and seminars involving sexual themes of any type are not permitted . . .” It’s important to note that Donnelly’s adventure did not include any actual depictions of or references to sexual activity of any kind; it’s just that several of the characters were described as gay. This was enough, in the RPGA’s eyes, to invoke their policy. -Pyramid #5, Industry News, 1994 (27 years ago)
There's no point in confronting these people who have opinions, yet no expertise. They will react like a five-year old, and throw a tantrum filled with certainty and petulance. I am certain of little, but I have been gaming since the early 1980's, I average about 3 games a week, and have had several books published by publishers about gaming, my work is well-reviewed, and my income comes from creating role-playing games.
This level of expertise—the 1600 level chess player—make Dungeons and Dragons a realm where I have a degree of confidence and expertise.
So I can tell you the thing that makes them angry.*
D&D's dominance is the most frustrating thing about the tabletop gaming scene- 2021 (this year)
D&D is a mechanical and writing dinosaur, whose dominance is honestly among the worst things ever to happen to the industry #ttrpg #gamedesign #fail -2019 (two years past)
the larger problem is that D&D kinda sucks but everyone keeps playing it anyway -2017 (four years past)
[D&D's] game system is antiquated, using many clumsy mechanics and carrying with it all the flaws of the original, never having changed ANY of the basic system in all its history -1998 (Twenty-three years past)
The state of the art for RPGs has moved on, and for myself personally, [D&D] doesn't cut it. -1995 (Twenty-six years past)
In general [D&D] has huge holes in the core rules. As a DM you either fix them, ignore them, or move on to a "better" system. -1993 (Twenty-eight years past)
And the pièce de résistance:
[P]rotagonism was so badly injured during the history of role-playing (1970-ish through the present, with the height of the effect being the early 1990s), that participants in that hobby are perhaps the very last people on earth who could be expected to produce *all* the components of a functional story. . .[The most damaged participants are too horrible even to look upon, much less to describe. This has nothing to do with geekery. When I say "brain damage," I mean it literally. Their minds have been *harmed.*] All that is the foundation for my point: that the routine human capacity for understanding, enjoying, and creating stories is damaged in this fashion by repeated "storytelling role-playing" as promulgated through many role-playing games of a specific type. -2006, Ron Edwards saying D&D and vampire players have literal brain damage. (15 years past)
Thirty years of market data would indicate fucking not.
As the knowing happens, and we get closer to the point where everything is known, and all mysteries: The Voynich manuscript, the Antikythera mechanism, Fermet's last theory, eventually disappear as they are discovered (all of which were unknown and unsolved mysteries when I was 10, now all completely solved), we will remain as immortal gods, knowing all, in a virtually endless future within a limitless void.
Robert Sapolsky, a neuroendocrinology researcher and professor of Biology, neurology, and neurological sciences makes it clear. There's a lot of data that we have no control over our actions. Maybe free will exists. But to date, there's no mechanism, theory, or evidence for it, and daily more evidence is accumulating that there are mechanisms and evidence that it doesn't exist. We don't make decisions consciously, they are made and our brains tell us a Just So story about why we did. You don't have any control over your DNA.
You are on a ride as a passenger, with no way to steer the cart.
Most people deny this the same way one denies that a machine can outperform you in every field to the degree that you can outperform an ant. John Henry was a steel driving man. There is nothing special about man. Your ego demands it.
But can we afford to create a society that address this? One that removes responsibility from man, and instead places it on what factors that determined the behavior?
This is not a philosophical question. We will speak with thinking living machines. We will eliminate the need for labor. We will conquer aging. Not in a geological age, not in some future era, not in far off centuries, but in mere decades. We are already genetically engineering humans to be stronger, smarter, better.
They physical nature of the brain, the hallucinations and psychosis drugs and therapy manage, the endless insecurity and irrational beliefs of the human animal, all sitting underneath a shining sun of reason and knowledge, burning away all the ignorance, leaves the human ego where?
Reality is that which remains.
English Common Law holds adults responsible for their actions. What will happen if science proves they are not?
This inability to align with any in-group has dictated the path of the future. This post is not content and I do not desire to create content. Anger has been expressed, because I refuse to take action based on the desires of any group, because I've removed parts of my public persona from view, because I've worked with people other people wish I had not, because I'm making a living at writing and illustrating instead of being enslaved to someone else, because I hold beliefs and thoughts that threaten, confuse, and anger people, because I've taken down posts due to harassment, because I've 'gone commercial' and make things and ask for money, and because I take action of my own initiative regardless of the desires of other people.
Empathy is possessed, for I felt the same way when certain writers stopped interacting with the gaming scene, in the space of four decades, I've seen it happen dozens of times. And now as a person who went from someone who's in the scene, to someone who creates for it, I can understand why. I possessed as many complex emotions over luminaries such as Michael Curtis, Monte Cook, and others withdrew from public interaction and just produced works. But now I understand it much better.
The real question is: What is it I should do? Do I produce popular "content" and get one of those ridiculous patrons that makes thousands a month? Do I just continue to produce blog "content", regurgitating the same ideas and giving everyone something entertaining to look at every day? Do I spend all my time reworking other crappy stuff written by other people on a deadline making it useful? Do I farm outrage by pandering to the needs and wants of extremists? Do I create parasocial relationships and put myself online at the risk of feeding my ego?
In part, my reach exceeds my grasp. I've been producing evergreen gaming products that I feel move the industry forward. Megadungeon's display format, maps that provide more information than a grid, templates for what an open high-level adventure that challenges players without eliminating what makes them powerful, books full of ideas for children (and the child inside all of us), a reimagining of one of the oldest artifacts in gaming.
But I want more. I want to illustrate stories, and make movies, and music, and cartoons, and write books, and, and, and; but I'm discovering the ingroup necessity to "Stay in your lane" as well as the fact that it takes time, skill, and mastery to produce quality in different fields, makes this a difficult task. I may have achieved adult levels of understanding in many of these fields, but not expertise (much less mastery)
What's more, is I'd like to do what people want to see, which is harder than it sounds, because often times people lack insight into what they actually want, and what's more, when I take action that upsets or disappoints someone, the response isn't to tell me, but rather understandably, to turn their limited attention elsewhere.
We are going to be exploring some of these options, soon. Over the coming weeks. With three major book releases this year I have time to take a breath, and look forward. If you'd like to participate in these discussions, join the discord. It is not a daily discord, nor is it quite busy. It is a way to interact with me directly.
If not, just watch this space. We have some amazing stuff coming soon.
Oh, and if you want to pick up a hard copy of In a Deadly Fashion you should hurry before it's sold out. Only about 350 copies left at the time of me writing this. Some copies will be sent to the U.S. store eventually (which will help with shipping) but there's already a line forming for those.
* I linked these posts as proof. There are more on fallen forums, like story-games, and the forge. Do not contact or bother the people who made these posts.
If you like posts like this, along with other surprises coming soon, support me on Patreon!