Created By: kjnoren on October 1, 2013 Last Edited By: kjnoren on July 28, 2016

Metaphysical Injury

Receiving an injury that hurts the soul, life essence, or similar

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

YKTTW notes

Changelog:
  • Tweaked description, added some more related tropes
  • Added tropes to description; rolled in example
  • Some code fixes
  • New examples; rolled in and did a little mining from related tropes
  • Updated description and laconic

Should mental illnesses or direct mental damage be included here? I lean towards no, but have no hard opinion on the matter.

Description

Not every injury is visible on the body. Some injuries may not be of the body at all. These are injuries that have been made to the soul, the spirit, the life essence, or whatever metaphysical construct a work uses together with someone's living body.

Note that for purposes of this trope Depression, psychosis, and other mental illnesses are not included.

See also Our Souls Are Different and Anatomy of the Soul. Compare Emotion Bomb and I'm Having Soul Pains. A Soul-Cutting Blade is a weapon that inflicts this type of injury, or someone with Soul Power can inflict it. Can be the cause of Death of Personality.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film

  • Hercules has the scissors with which The Fates cut the "thread of life," a cord they cut to send the soul of a mortal being to the underworld.

Literature

  • In The Sharing Knife series, everything that can support life is infused with ground, and there are that malices consume and are made of ground. There is a hereditary ability to manipulate and perceive ground. Malices and other powerful ground manipulators can ground-rip, causing weakness, slow-to-heal bodily injuries, or death. In the case of a malice, a ground-rip is usually instant death.
  • Demons in the Chalion books can absorb memories, skills, and character traits from their hosts, taking them with them when leaving. Most hosts dies, but they can also be left alive as husks of themselves.
  • In Chronicles of the Kencyrath Jamethiel Dream-Weaver reaped the souls of two-thirds of the Kencyr Host through dance during the Fall, and Jame shows the same level of ability.
  • The short story Different Kinds of Darkness by David Langford where certain graphical patterns haven been found to be damaging to human minds, similar to harmful machine code. These can cause nausea, catatonia, or instant death.
  • Werewolves and some other beings in the Jason Wood universe can draw energy directly from other living beings, killing them without leaving a mark or any discernible couse of death.
  • In Phoenix Rising, Rion is killed by a being that not only wounded his body, but also his soul. Later in the book, Thornfalcon showed himself to be a soul-cutter.
    "His soul itself is injured, cuts across his very essence in parallell with his bodily injuries. Those injuries... were mortal. If I cannot... bind his soul back together... it does not matter if his body is completely whole."

Tabletop Games

  • In Demon: The Fallen the titular demons harvest faith to fuel their angelic powers. Typically they do this by creating cults or forging relationships with mortals; however the most heinous way a demon can do this is to literally rip the faith off of a human, which metaphysically scars them and makes them anything from an Empty Shell, Extreme Doormat to just extremely cynical. Repeated uses can make mortals catatonic or outright kill them.
  • Changeling: The Lost has Arcadia note ) and the border between it and the real world is The Hedge. Any human traveling through the hedge, specifically if they get cut by the thorns therein, has pieces of their Soul torn and ripped off. Humans who are kidnapped by the fae and become Changelings can escape Arcadia and recover most of these pieces. All changelings come back missing a piece, and it's usually used by the fae to create an Evil Twin (or a good twin, it's messy). Anyone looking at a Changeling's soul or aura notices it's kind of torn and flimsy, a bit insubstantial and incomplete. A Changeling who reconciles with their fetch (the above mentioned evil twin) can effectively heal their soul.

[AC:Video Games]]

  • The Cipher class in Project Eternity specializes in damaging the enemies' souls (with a consequence of reducing their Hit Points, as well).
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • October 2, 2013
    Arivne
    A Soul Cutting Blade inflicts this kind of damage.

    Any weapons that do this kind of damage should be added to that trope.
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Good that we at least have part of this. Will do a mining of that trope for this one.

    So this will be the pure supertrope of Soul Cutting Blade, including the soul injuries itself (when of plot relevance) and all other causes of these injuries that aren't weapons (or at least blades).
  • October 2, 2013
    Koveras
    • The Cipher class in Project Eternity specializes in damaging the enemies' souls (with a consequence of reducing their Hit Points, as well).
  • October 2, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Yeah, seems to be quite a bit of overlap there. On the other hand:

    Im Having Soul Pains is one quite poor trope name, and the definition (as told in the first paragraph of the description) seems to include depression and anxiety as well. It also includes a grab-bag of things, between painful perceptions to death and everything in between.

    But it might be worth going sending it through TRS.
  • October 2, 2013
    Earnest
    Tabletop games

    • In Demon The Fallen the titular demons harvest faith to fuel their angelic powers. Typically they do this by creating cults or forging relationships with mortals; however the most heinous way a demon can do this is to literally rip the faith off of a human, which metaphysically scars them and makes them anything from an Empty Shell, Extreme Doormat to just extremely cynical. Repeated uses can make mortals catatonic or outright kill them. In game terms, most mortals have a Faith rating of 1 to 3 (with extremely spiritual people ranking 4 to 6), representing how much can be safely earned through normal means over a period of time. Each time faith is forcibly harvested it permanently lowers that score. Little short of extreme therapy on the human's part or some major soul searching can restore what was lost.
  • October 2, 2013
    Bisected8
    Compare Death Of Personality, for Metaphysical Death.
  • October 3, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^, ^^ Thanks!
  • October 3, 2013
    DAN004
    You might try taking some examples from Im Having Soul Pains that fit here.
  • October 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    Not easy, since a lot of the examples are just poor. Some possibilities, though I'd like a second opinion on them, and better write-ups:

    Anime and Manga:

    • The Gentle Fist technique used by the Hyuuga clan in Naruto can leave its targets crippled, chakra-wise, without leaving a mark on them.
    • Soul Eater has this. Black*Star experiences this when he attempts to use the Nakatsukasa Purpose before getting some sense beaten into him. It's stated that it's killing him, to which he typically pays no attention.
      • Of course, in Soul Eater souls are actual, tangible objects, and at one point we even get to see an X-ray of Black*Star's damaged soul.
    • Another less-than-kid-friendly variant occurs with the Brand of Sacrifice in Berserk, which inflicts this upon those who bear it in the presence of demons. The more powerful demons can inflict even worse pain on someone with the Brand, with the Godhand being the worst of them all, and intense enough pain inflicted this way can even kill them. Guts could only get within about Dragon Slayer distance from Femto before being almost completely overwhelmed by the pain, and the fact that Casca was even closer than that when she got raped by Femto (and was thus in utterly excruciating agony) was probably a big contributing factor to her loss of sanity following the Eclipse.
      • Much later, Slan of the Godhand slashed Guts across the chest, cutting into his soul as well as his flesh. While the wound on his body eventually healed, the wound in his soul will never go away. The cursed Berserker armor Guts wears is the only thing that is keeping the damage to his soul in check.
    • In Saint Beast, the last episode of the prequel series has Judas and Luca in critical condition due not to physical wounds but being polluted by the miasma of the evil spirits.
    • Whenever Inuyasha is forced to transform into his full demon form, it looks extremely painful; it is implied some of the pain results from his demon blood eating through his human soul.

    Comics:

    • In New X-Men (the Academy version), Pixie received one of these injuries during their trip to Limbo. It acts up specifically around demons and beings with darkness in them.
    • Hellfire -which is exactly what it sounds like- is used by some Marvel Universe characters such as Ghost Rider; it causes damage to the soul rather than the body. If used long enough, it can actually render a target literally soulless.

    Literature:

  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 8, 2013
    Earnest
    See also Soul and Anatomy Of The Soul if specific pieces are damaged.

    Just remembered another one:

    Tabletop game
    • Changeling The Lost has Arcadia (no, not the nice Arcadia, think more Dark World meets Spirit World meets the Fair Folk) and the border between it and the real world is The Hedge. Any human traveling through the hedge, specifically if they get cut by the thorns therein, has pieces of their Soul torn and ripped off. Humans who are kidnapped by the fae and become Changelings can escape Arcadia and recover these pieces... well, most of them. All changelings come back missing a piece, and it's usually used by the fae to create an Evil Twin (or a good twin, it's messy). The result is anyone looking at a Changeling's soul or aura notices it's kind of torn and flimsy, a bit insubstantial and incomplete.
      • The good news is that a Changeling who reconciles with their fetch (the above mentioned not-necessarily evil twin) can effectively heal their soul. Problem is, most fetches are evil.
  • October 9, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^ Thanks! Should have looked for Soul myself!
  • October 25, 2013
    DAN004
    Often someone with Soul Power can do this on people.

    Compare Emotion Bomb.
  • October 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    Worked in some more related tropes into the description.
  • March 5, 2016
    DAN004
    Compare Damaged Soul (which, despite the name, is a subtrope of Came Back Wrong)
  • March 5, 2016
    Chabal2
    The Authority: One story has an alien neutralize Apollo with this kind of attack, claiming he "shat in his soul".
  • July 28, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
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