Friday, March 7, 2014

The Schizomancer

Imagine that the origin of psychological disorders is usually brain chemistry, as we are told. (Yes, this does involve at least a bit of imagination, since less is in fact known about the brain that most people realize.) Of course, plenty of people with such disorders went untreated in medieval or ancient times. Some would be seen as demon possessed or touched by the gods. Or simply very strange.

But imagine a world of fantasy, where the laws of nature are altered so that performing magic is a genuine possibility, where wizards and sorcerers abound. Yet the human beings in this world are still human beings, with the same human weaknesses of humans we know. Some of them with brain chemistry imbalances, including schizophrenia. Imagine a wizard or other practitioner of magic who is schizophrenic.

A snippet from Wikipedia defines some of the symptoms of schizophrenia as follows:

Positive symptoms are those that most individuals do not normally experience but are present in people with schizophrenia. They can include delusions, disordered thoughts and speech, and tactileauditoryvisualolfactory and gustatory hallucinations, typically regarded as manifestations of psychosis. Hallucinations are also typically related to the content of the delusional theme.

What would distinguish a "schizomancer"? Perhaps the ability to take the delusions and hallucinations that he or she has and make them real for everyone around him or her. Or perhaps instead of schizomancers having the power to generate hallucinations and delusions they themselves experience, perhaps their very presence would cause people around them to experience their own delusions, to in effect become schizophrenic themselves. Or perhaps the effect could be deliberate for a schizomancer who is more self aware--he or she could make it so people taste or touch or hear or smell or see whatever she wants them to see. Such a wizard could even make it so people would taste the sense of touch or see smells or have other completely unexpected forms of synesthesia, or other distortions relating to time, space, and distance. It would be interesting to describe such magical power in action.

If magic is conceived of in a fantasy story as requiring discipline and study, schizophrenia certainly would not help someone obtain magical mastery. But since schizophrenia often starts at puberty or early adulthood, one could imagine a child prodigy in magical arts...who begins to slip as adulthood approaches. Perhaps in a world of magic, there would be spells to counterbalance brain chemistry just as we have pills to counterbalance it in our world of technology. But perhaps schizomancers would not see they have a problem. They would resist treatment, with all of the force of magic they could generate.

Perhaps a schizomancer could be a singular individual, perhaps a tragic villain of a story. (Or perhaps not so tragic.) Villainy seems a natural match for a skill that destroys the minds or perceptions of others. But perhaps it would be more interesting and more challenging to write the schizomancer as the hero of a fantasy tale, one struggling not only with an external enemy, but also with his or her own inner demons, who have the terrifying habit of making themselves literally appear...



  1. I've found a new favorite word: schizomancer. It begs for a book series. Reminds me of the retromancy of "Journey Quest" being linked to dyslexia (

  2. I glad somebody else enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks!