cazrolime: Alexander from Amnesia gives great advice: "Torture is ok" (amnesia . Alexander is good people)
Corpus Callosum ([personal profile] cazrolime) wrote2011-12-28 04:22 pm

Oh shit, I'm writing headcanon/rp thoughts again, get in the car!

Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent this time. This includes trying to reverse-engineer his insanity meter into something that actually makes sense in real life, so trigger warnings for that and domestic abuse talk (for all the zero people who actually read this blog). Oh, and game spoilers, obviously.

The interesting thing about Daniel's hallucinations is that they were probably going on before the start of the game, even though they're not mentioned in his diaries. The other two possible explanations are that they were caused by the Shadow, or caused by the amnesia potion, but I don't buy those. We have testimony in-game from a prisoner who was given the amnesia potion multiple times, but while he talked about the ways he could tell he'd been given something to take his memories, he never mentioned any kind of hallucinations. Likewise, we have Daniel's diaries from before and during the Shadow's hunt for him -- and if he started seeing things that weren't there, surely there would be some hint or even a "holy shit I've started seeing things that aren't there".

But if he's been seeing things for a long time, and worked the hallucinations unobtrusively into his daily life, then it makes sense for them not to be mentioned. Depending on their severity, it might be a bit strange for him not to reference them -- but it'd be a lot stranger for him to leave them out if they're weird and new to him.

Of course, they could've just been an insanity meter thing without much thought put into their backstory, buuut let's quietly sweep that one under the rug for the sake of consistency.

So I spent this morning casually googling possible causes of hallucinations in order to armchair diagnose Daniel. I started out with articles on the early signs of schizophrenia, since that seemed like the most obvious place to start, but too many of the core symptoms clashed with in-game stuff and/or headcanon and/or my lack of desire to play a second antisocial paranoid chap.

My current best bet, which I like a lot for not being so obvious, is a rare condition called Peduncular Hallucinosis. According to Wikipedia, it can give sufferers vivid, animated visual hallucinations. That article only mentions auditory hallucinations because the patient in one case study didn't have them, but a quick google search suggests that those are fair game too. They seem to be rarer than visual hallucinations, but they're far from unheard-of.

At the same time, most patients retain awareness that what they're seeing isn't real. There's not actually a parade of people in front of them, they're just seeing one because of other reasons. As far as I remember, in the game it's ambiguous whether Daniel thinks there are actually corpses all over the place and such, but this does more or less fit with what I established for him in Eway. I may need to do a bit of tweaking, because Eway!Daniel tended to know what was real through deduction rather than innate knowledge, but it's workable.

Meanwhile, the actual cause of PH is lesions on the brain. These are caused by infarction, which is tissue death caused by a lack of blood and therefore a lack of oxygen to that particular part of the tissue. Blood flow can be restricted by a number of things: the arteries might be compressed or blocked by something (eg a tumour), ruptured by trauma, or messed up by things like drug abuse. I'm not decided on what could cause Daniel's PH, but I'll probably go with trauma. I don't want to heap tragedy on top of tragedy by making it a tumour, and I kinda want this to have been happening since a young age (for reasons I'll go into), so drug abuse is likely out. Being blocked by a clot or something is another possibility, but that seems more likely to be fatal than limited rupturing? (Note: about one in three cases of cerebral infarction is fatal.)

I dunno, I'm no doctor. I'll research that some more.

Also wow, I keep wanting to write PH as pH. /chemistry class flashbacks

I keep reading "trauma" and having to remind myself that even if Daniel's father did canonically beat him, you wouldn't traditionally use a birch switch on someone's head. :l Speaking of beating, though, I'll say here in case I forget that it would have been switches and belts at home, and switches and rulers at school. Switches would have been usually birch, and freshly-cut to make sure they were supple and whippy. Prefects didn't start beating other kids at school until midway through the century, and canes didn't come in until the 1870s. And now back to pH talk.

For the record, the cerebral infarction lesions can also cause sleep disturbances! It seems like patients are more likely to catnap than manage good deep sleep. Obviously this has nothing to do with his later Shadow-caused nightmare insomnia, but hey, it's something to keep in mind for playing him from before that.

From the case studies, it sounds like a patient will have a few recurring hallucinations rather than a huge bunch of unrelated ones. That could fit into bodies/deaths being the recurring theme of Daniel's in-game hallucinations. But obviously that was influenced by the whole painting the man and cutting the lines thing, so what might he have been seeing beforehand?

Maybe they were more peaceful before his life turned into a literal horror story. So he'd like see a line of people walking about in the garden or standing in his room and things like that. (I'm drawing off typical hallucination forms and case studies here.) If we say that it started happening as a kid -- and the earliest cases on Wikipedia are between eight and eleven years old -- then maybe he started thinking of them as guardian angels. He knew other people wouldn't be able to see them (they weren't "real"), but they had to be something and Victorians weren't exactly paragons of understanding and talking about mental illness.

I'm leaning towards guardian angels, in part because his home life seems to have been pretty shitty, and also because this kind of hallucination tends to happen in the evening and at night, and he's afraid of the dark. So because of both these things, it would have been comforting to imagine them as a protective presence. Hell, he was more than likely brought up Christian, so it makes sense to cast the visions as guardian angels from that perspective as well.

Oh god, maybe he thought they were there to help protect Hazel, and they were part of the stories he told her.

...And then he starts being chased by supernatural horrors and committing terrible crimes and whoops he's suddenly prone to hallucinate much more unfriendly things. Maybe the amnesia potion even fucked him up a bit as far as they were concerned, even if it didn't cause them in the first place -- if only by wiping out his memory of the earlier, benign visions. The most recent memories of nasty torture shit were clearly leaking back in, so maybe they informed the shape of the new hallucinations.

Oh Daniel honey.