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Go Mad From The Revelation / Literature

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People going mad from the revelation in literature.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Nightfall": Lagash's six suns means an Endless Daytime, except for once every 2,049 years, when five suns set and the only sun left in the hemisphere is eclipsed by the moon. The scientists are trying to prepare civilization and themselves for the upcoming nightfall, but when it does occur, no-one is prepared for the thirty thousand Stars that suddenly appear in the night sky. This leads to the far more devastating revelation how tiny and insignificant they are by comparison.
      "Aton, somewhere, was crying, whimpering horribly like a terribly frightened child. 'Stars — all the Stars — we didn't know at all. We didn't know anything. We thought six stars in a universe is something the Stars didn't notice is Darkness forever and ever and ever and the walls are breaking in and we didn't know we couldn't know and anything —'"
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    • Nightfall: The plot involves the main characters frantically trying to prevent their civilization from suffering mass panic and hysteria when they finally experience Darkness for the first time. While the Darkness is bad enough, what no-one is prepared for is the billions and billions of stars that suddenly appear in the night sky. This leads to the far more devastating revelation that their solar system, which they had originally believed to be the extent of the entire universe, is merely a tiny part of it.
  • Stephen King:
    • Seeing the true form of the titular It tends to drive a person crazy. The approximate idea of It's true form resembles a giant spider, though, like in Lovecraft's works, It is not actually a spider or anything even remotly terrestrial. It's just the closest concept our brains can grasp
    • The ending of King's short story The Jaunt offers another memorable example of the trope, though it might not be a "revelation", so much as lots and lots and lots of time.
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    • Also, seeing the ring of stones in King's short story "N." Or more specifically, counting them. See, there's 8 stones. But, once you realized that, sometimes there's 7. But it's supposed to be 8. And if there's 7, the thing beyond the circle might break through...
    • The "thing with the endless piebald side" in Lisey’s Story.
    • In the revised first book of The Dark Tower series, a man comes Back from the Dead and claims to have knowledge of the afterlife. When he tells Roland's girlfriend what it is, she begs Roland to kill her. He does.
    • Sex with recurring villain Randall Flagg in his true form in The Stand makes Nadine Cross catatonic. By comparison, the narration mentions in passing that sex with him in his human form is "only" as traumatizing to his partners as sex with a dog or horse.
    • "Crouch End", basically a Lovecraft story set in King's universe (Lovecraft is mentioned as a writer in-universe) revolves around the London neighborhood of Crouch End. An American tourist named Doris wanders into a local police station in a hysterical state, and tells a story about how she and her husband got lost in Crouch End. The husband became unhinged after seeing something beyond a hedge, and disappeared while the two where walking through a tunnel. Shortly afterwards, Doris encounters two disturbing children who summon something from beneath Crouch End. She remembers nothing else after that.
      Doris: And there was something else down there... something like... eyes!

  • Alfred Bester's short story "5,271,009" has an artist driven insane when he catches a glimpse of an expression on the face of Solon Aquila, a collector who is actually an alien remittance man exiled on Earth, which shows his horror and anguish at being stuck here. Aquila then tries to cure him in order he can do more of the pictures that Aquila likes.
    • Not really. Aquila feels responsible for what has happened to the artist, and hopes the artist will be a better person than Aquila was on his home planet.
  • "Ararat", the first of Zenna Henderson's stories about "The People", depicts a long history of trouble keeping teachers in the remote village of Cougar Canyon. Nobody wants to teach out in the middle of nowhere, so the county superintendent keeps sending teachers who are elderly, sick, often homeless, worn out and dying — for children whose abilities include telepathy, levitation, and manipulation of solar energy. The kids would try to be discreet, but inevitably somebody would slip. Cougar Canyon teachers all end up in hospitals or insane asylums sooner or later.
  • In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, James Taggart goes insane, becoming permanently catatonic, when he finally recognizes his own desire to destroy for the sake of destruction. He, in turn, previously revealed to Cherryl Taggart the monstrosity of his world, beating Cherryl, and cheating on her in the same night, driving her to see what had happened to the world, and resulting in severe psychotic episode. This leads to (possibly accidental) suicide.
  • In The Bible, God tells Moses that this will happen if he shows his true form to Moses. Except instead of going mad, you go dead from seeing God.
    • Deuteronomy 28.34, a part of the last speech of Moses, states the trope verbatim: "Thou wilt go mad from the revelation I open unto your eyes."
  • In Bird Box those who view the mysterious creatures outside are driven insane.
  • In Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, two of the astronomers go insane attempting to have the Cloud download its knowledge into them. Something similar seems to happen to the Cloud's species as well — from time to time, members of its species report that they've discovered a valuable piece of knowledge, and shortly afterwards self-destruct.
  • David Langford's short story "BLIT" uses a mind-breaking fractal image as a terrorist weapon.
  • The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan: several instances it seems. The first is the realization that Thomas Messenger is destined to die, again and again throughout the infinite multiverse of the Vellum, sparking Jack's effort to find the one reality where the man he loves defies the rules and lives. Another has to do with the backstory that contributed to starting the whole story in the first place: one of the reasons the Unkin that joined Metatron's Covenant to fight the Sovereigns was because of the realization that there is in fact no judeo-christian God. Imagine being a believer, undergoing the event of touching the Vellum underneath reality (thus thinking you've been "chosen" or something), and finding out that in eternity dwells... nothing. Just some other humans that, like you, managed to touch the multiverse under reality. One of the biggest is the idea of the Unkin trying to build Heaven in the Vellum - trying to build a tiny, insignificant outpost of crude meta-human order amid the vast, hostile wilderness of eternity that exists beneath the multiverse.
  • In Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, Dwayne Hoover goes on a rampage after reading a solipsistic novel by Kilgore Trout which says that its reader is the only human being in the world and that everyone else is a machine.
    • Although it's made clear that Hoover had already gone quite mad by this point, and it's this pre-existing mental condition that makes him believe Trout's book to be a personal message from God.
    • He couldn't help it; he had bad chemicals in his brain.
  • In Burying the Shadow any attempt by a soulscaper to heal an eloim's mind results in the soulscaper going stark raving mad.
  • The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling: Let’s just say that Jack’s study of his student’s perpetual motion machine doesn’t make him the... most stable of individuals.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "Jewels Of Gwahlur" Yelaya warns Conan the Barbarian.
    Here I have lain for so many centuries, to awaken each night at sunset and hold my court as of yore, with specters drawn from the shadows of the past. Man, if you would not view that which will blast your soul for ever, get hence quickly! I command you! Go!”
    • The Master boasts of this:
      It would blast your soul to hear from what far realm I summoned them and from what doom I guard them with ensorcelled crystal and golden serpents.
    • In The Hour of the Dragon, Orastes is pleased that this did not happen.
      Their iron nerves had withstood an ordeal that might have driven weaker men mad. He knew it was with no weaklings that he conspired, but men whose courage was as profound as their lawless ambitions and capacity for evil.
  • In Laird Barron's The Croning, the Humanoid Abominations, known as the Children of the Old Leech, who are the main antagonists behind the Ancient Conspiracy, reveal that they frequently and gleefully invoke the trope. Because they are Emotion Eaters, and a human mind carving in under a truth it simply cannot bear has a very special and absolutely delicious taste to them.
    Bronson Ford: My kind are epicures. We reveal in sensual pleasures, be it as gourmands or sybarites. We sup of blood and fear, we rejoice in flensing away that which occults the truth. Pointless to repeat what you already know. Wolverton and Rourke told you everything. Your recognition of these facts is a chemical bloom that lights your cerebral cortex with fireworks. It is this dawning of horror upon primitive minds that gives me my greatest frisson. I have lived thousand of your own lifecycles and the taste of your revulsion and horror never grows stale.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • A protagonist who isn't transformed into something... not nice or dead at the end of the story usually suffers this trope. (In the original H. P. Lovecraft stories, outright madness wasn't as common.)
    • Occurs on a global scale in Lovecraft's short story "Nyarlathotep", which tells of one man (although he's really a messenger for the god of chaos) revealing such cosmic secrets that entire cities are driven mad and civilisation collapses.
  • In Darkness Visible ordinary people can go mad when exposed to unreality. As things deteriorate this eventually happens to something like a quarter of London's population.
  • The Demu from The Demu Trilogy have their species-wide psychosis because they can't cope with their rite of passage revelation that they are descended from a species that were pets of Neglectful Precursors.
  • In The Dark Portal, Robin Jarvis' first book in the Deptford Mice trilogy, the rat Madame Akkikuyu has pledged her loyalty to Jupiter, a living god who dwells in complete blackness in the sewers. Glowing red eyes are all that anyone has ever seen of him. At the end, when he is goaded into leaving his lair for the first time, it is revealed that he is a monstrous giant cat. When Akkikuyu sees him, her mind snaps.
  • Parodied and Inverted in Don Quixote, who goes mad for trying to make sense of the purple prose that plagued the chivalry books he has read, but never was any reveal because even Aristotle could not make sense of that. Chapter I, Part I:
    Over conceits of this sort the poor gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awake striving to understand them and worm the meaning out of them; what Aristotle himself could not have made out or extracted had he come to life again for that special purpose.
  • In Larry Niven's Draco Tavern story "The Subject Is Closed", one of the tavern's visitors describes how one alien race claimed to have discovered the truth about the afterlife. This is the last that was heard from them, and visitors to their world discovered that they had systematically committed mass suicide. It was later decided to destroy the detailed records of what was found, because those who studied them too closely also committed suicide.
  • The Dresden Files: In Turn Coat, Dresden barely manages to avoid this after looking upon the skinwalker with his wizardly Sight. When he Sees it, he blacks out, only to awaken some time later as a gibbering, incoherent mess, and in physical pain. He recites prime numbers to prevent himself from remembering it for a time. It takes locking himself in a room and assaulting his mind with the image over and over again to get his mind straight (he also gets a Psychic Nosebleed). Even then, he'll never forget what he saw. He takes this to be a lesson that he should be much, much more careful about looking at things with his sight.
  • In The Elenium, the daughter of Sparhawk and Ehlana, Danae, is actually an incarnation of the child goddess Aphrael. (In part because she thought Ehlana deserved a child despite being rendered barren by a poison, and in part to maintain her hold on Sparhawk.) The knowledge of this is kept from Ehlana or it would drive her insane. (No one else who's privy to this information has any trouble with it because they are already familiar with Aphrael. While Ehlana is not particularly closed-minded to any other "impossible" things Aphrael does, the thought is that this kind of revelation would hit too close; to compare, Sparhawk brushed with the trope at first in spite of knowing about Aphrael's personality and needed a while to calm down.)
  • In Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli met a slave-girl who was transformed by potent hypnosis to be a "memory palace," a kind of exotic hard disk drive. Machiavelli then attempted to restore the girl to a human state, but when she did, she remembered all the perils of her life and defenestrated herself.
  • The Oculus from the Fablehaven series has this effect.
  • In the second and third Firekeeper novels, the Healed One, ruler of the nation of New Kelvin, is the one person able to read a book that details the true history of their people. The secrets therein driven more than one newly ascended Healed One mad.
  • In William Tenn's story "Firewater", humanity is being observed by aliens that appear to have god-like powers, and anyone who tries too hard to understand them goes insane. Near the end, it's revealed that the aliens have a similar problem with understanding humans.
  • Glory in the Thunder: The implied ultimate fate of Posthumous Character Diadem Correl, and most other Gods of Truth.
  • The Gone series: When she meets the Darkness in Plague, Brittany goes mad and comes to believe that it is God.
  • In Hallow Mass, this is the eventual fate of Audrey Klumm-Webner upon meeting the Dunwichers' gods up close and personal.
  • Prolonged exposure to the Cruciatus Curse in the Harry Potter books has this effect.
    • Also, anyone who touches a prophecy that isn't the subject of said prophecy.
  • One of the short stories in the Chuck Palahniuk collection Haunted has something called a "nightmare box" which does exactly this to whoever looks inside it.
  • Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, although nothing supernatural actually happens to him. Alone with a savage tribe and faced with the primordial immensity of the jungle, he goes native in the worst sort of way, sets himself up as some kind of god, and descends into acts of brutality left unnamed.
  • In Heart of Steel, Alistair had a complete psychotic break in his backstory after rebuilding himself as a cyborg and subsequently discovering that his comatose beloved—for whom he had resolved to survive and recover—had been taken off life support a week earlier.
  • William Gibson's short story "Hinterlands" has a parade of lone astronauts drifting at a particular point in space, setting off radio flares, who are either taken by some force, or more often, not taken. Those who are taken come back with scary new science and technology, but are all batshit crazy and almost all eventually kill themselves without revealing much of what they saw. Those who are not taken are so profoundly crushed at being rejected by Space God that they all attempt suicide, and are then employed as counselors for those batshit crazy returnees.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe has the Total Perspective Vortex, which did this to its first subject. It's believed that this will happen to anyone; the Vortex allows someone to comprehend just how significant they are in the vastness of the universe (they become hopelessly incapable of functioning when the answer turns out to be "not at all").
      • At first blush Zaphod is an aversion, since the TPV tells him that he's the most important being in the Universe. As it turns out, though, he was exposed to it in a computer generated universe created for his protection. It's understood that if he were exposed to it in the real universe he'd be reduced to the same state as anyone else.
    • In an episode of the radio series, Marvin the Paranoid Android keeps a couple of minor adversaries occupied by tying them up and playing a recording of his autobiography. They start gibbering and raving.
    • And getting a glimpse of the universe as it looks through Marvin's eyes is certainly never a good thing. In the first book, a ship's sentient computer responds to a direct link into Marvin's brain by committing suicide. In Life, the Universe and Everything, billions of genocidal battle robots are gradually paralyzed by despair when Marvin's forcibly linked into the defense grid. In the movie, Marvin uses the "point of view gun" to telepathically project his perspective onto an attacking army of Vogons. The weeping Vogons have to be picked up by health workers and carted off in a fleet of trucks.
    • And then there's Prak, whose brief scene is a Parody of this trope. Near the end of Life, the Universe and Everything, an overdose of truth serum causes Prak to tell "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the entire universe, and drives everyone who hears it mad. However, what he has to say is much briefer than everyone expects, and apparently frogs and Arthur Dent are very important to the universe. Prak himself dies after several days of uncontrollable laughter upon meeting Arthur Dent.
    • When the people of the planet Krikkit discover that there is a universe beyond their home nebula in Life, the Universe, and Everything they can't cope with the revelation and collectively decide that the universe must be destroyed.
      • The Krikkiters are a special case, as the 'nebula' that surrounded their star system was actually an ancient, malevolent AI that was trying to get them to destroy the universe.
  • In the novel Innocence by Dean Koontz, almost anyone who looks at the unnamed protagonist immediately becomes homicidal and tries to kill him, for a reason that is revealed at the end of the story.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars: In Chessman of Mars, this is claimed for looking on the face of the dead O-Mai, a jeddak said to have died without showing a mark, and whose body was said to lie in a haunted room.
  • Discussed in John Dies at the End. "Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt."
  • And one of the most famous examples in literature. Robert W. Chambers' short story anthology The King in Yellow concerns the eponymous and forbidden play that drives readers and viewers mad. The King in Yellow and everything related to it was later incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos.
    • Which was given a modern film remake by John Carpenter as Cigarette Burns.
  • Known Space: Lampshaded in At The Core: Bernard Schaeffer insists on a window in his spaceship. The Puppeteer providing it says Schaeffer would go mad from looking out into hyperspace. Schaeffer replies "The mind-wrenching sight of naked space fills me with mild but waning interest."
  • In Robert E. Howard's Kull/Bran Mak Morn story "Kings of the Night", Gonar knows things.
    I know secrets that would blast even your brain, Bran, should I speak them.
  • In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, the Big Bad Storm King and his minions exist in a place "between life and death" that gives them plenty of time to contemplate Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Unprepared mortal minds that dare to touch them (or do so accidentally) are driven stark raving bonkers. Also, Du Svardenvyrd, the tome of the mad prophet Nisses, contains sufficient knowledge of the workings of the world to drive anyone who reads it past the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's novel Methuselah's Children, Slayton Ford goes mad when he meets the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Interestingly, after Ford goes mad, Lazarus Long mentions he is afraid that if he met them he wouldn't go mad.
  • Les Misérables has Inspector Javert Driven to Suicide after realizing his life-long ideals of the law always being right and all criminals being irredeemable were wrong when his life is saved by Jean Valjean.
  • In the chapter "The Castaway" in Hermann Melville's Moby-Dick, the cabin boy Pip falls overboard and the immense emptiness of the ocean drives him mad. "By the merest chance the ship itself at last rescued him; but from that hour the little negro went about the deck an idiot; such, at least, they said he was. The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul."
  • Invoked a lot in Simon R. Green's Nightside novels. One book features Madman, a former theoretical physicist who'd worked out the means to observe reality as it truly exists; his name says it all. In another incident, a minor character asked the animated corpse Dead Boy what it was like being dead, and was reduced to quivering catatonia by the reply.
  • Philo Vance: In The Bishop Murder Case, Vance posits that someone went mad from studying quantum psychics.
  • In Chris Wooding's novel Poison, the titular character gives up all desire to live after discovering that not only is she a fictional character who was created by the 'hierophant' — a God-like being in the book's universe, and that her home did not exist before she came into being, but that said hierophant has been controlling her all her life, making her choose certain courses of action and make certain decisions. Luckily, she gets over it after discovering that her death would mean the death of those around her, as the story she is in is centred entirely around her.
  • Both lampshaded and subverted in The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan, the Apocalyptic Log of a woman who was Driven to Suicide by some kind of entity disguised as an old oak tree. She is a novelist by profession, so of course she's actually familiar with this trope.
    I seem to have been afflicted with some unprecedented calm, something that settled over me while I was upstairs and which shows no signs of abating. Again, I know we're running counter to the received wisdom, in which our heroine, having glimpsed some unspeakable atrocity, parts ways with her sanity (at least for a time) and runs screaming into the night. Perhaps it's only that those sorts of books and movies are, too often, made by people who have never, themselves, stood at this threshold. Even Catherine ran screaming, that sunstroke day at Cabeza de Lobo. Couldn't I at least be as weak as poor Catherine?
    Fine. Then I'll write it down.
  • The setting of Safehold is a Lost Colony locked in Medieval Stasis by a Path of Inspiration that, over time, morphed into a Corrupt Church. The protagonists' goal is to break that stasis and reveal the truth to the planet's inhabitants. One of their biggest enemies in this endeavor is the Big Bad for the first nine books, Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn. After a long and bloody war, during which Clyntahn tortured and killed enemies internal and external alike, the Grand Inquisitor is arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. The day before his execution, main character Merlin Athrawes and his counterpart, Nimue Chwaeriau, visit him in his cell and show him proof that he cannot deny that the Archangels in whose name he instigated all of the bloodshed are a big lie. The experience shatters him and leaves him a gibbering wreck the next day as he's hanged. His pleas for mercy and insistence it wasn't his fault because he thought the Holy Writ was true fall on ears that believe he's gone mad for entirely different reasons.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Red Wedding drives Catelyn Stark completely insane. As death approaches her, she laughs madly as she claws at her own face.
  • John Ringo's Special Circumstances series has several instances of this. Barb Everette (the main character, a paladin of God in all but name) is directly called by God, and she states "Hearing His voice, unfiltered and direct, was right on the edge of death". Several people who see the Gar (a huge eldritch abomination) simply start screaming and don't stop, ever.
  • Star Wars Legends: Fate of the Jedi: Anyone who swims in the Pool of Knowledge gets their eyes turned partly silver, and slowly turns into an Eldritch Abomination, who eats fear instead of food.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Szeth-son-son-Vallano is made Truthless for the crime of claiming that the Voidbringers have returned. As Truthless, he is granted a magical weapon of astonishing power, but forced to obey the orders of whoever holds his Oathstone. Before long, he has been forced to kill thousands in the service of his master, and has started wars that will kill millions more. Then, at the climax of the second book, he learns the awful truth: he was right. The Voidbringers are returning. Szeth is not Truthless. And all those numberless deaths are absolutely his fault.
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has the "good" scientist, Dr. Lanyon, undergo this when he sees the Hyde-to-Jekyll transformation.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Strata, a species of aliens takes a plunge past the Despair Event Horizon and commits collective suicide upon learning that the world they live on is in fact artificial and their entire prehistory was an elaborate forgery. Except that the suicidal aliens never actually existed; they were themselves part of an elaborate forgery.
  • Spider Robinson's novel Telempath involves a virus which multiplies the human sense of smell a thousandfold. It is estimated that one third of the population goes mad or commits suicide due to the olfactory overload.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: Iblis, a Ragnarok resembling a gigantic demon, produces sound and light from its eyes that amplifies negative emotions and causes hallucinations. This effect isn't as powerful that of your typical Eldritch Abomination: it weakens over distance, can be resisted with mental discipline, and requires conscious effort (so it weakens if Iblis itself is attacked).
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign:
    • The plot is driven by a mutual example of this trope, affecting both The Hero and the Big Bad. After all, if coming into contact with an otherwordly existence causes insanity, why wouldn't an Eldritch Abomination go insane after encountering a human? The main character Kyousuke has a literally irresistible case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, while the White Queen fell in love with him at first sight, then became a murderous Yandere after he rejected her.
    • A temporary example occurs whenever someone loses a summoning battle. The losers experience a shock equal to seeing the death of one's god (which, given that actual gods can be summoned in this series, can be literally the case). They lose any ability to take independent action for 24 hours, and will follow any orders given to them by someone else. Even if that order is to throw themselves off a cliff...
    • A permanent and more traditional example occurs whenever the Black Maw that Swallows All is summoned. It devours its own summoner, then leaves its vessel (the person who is possessed by the summoned entity during a summoning ceremony). The vessel is left physically unharmed by the experience, but their mind will be completely and utterly gone.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: When the vampire Lestat is trapped in a human body by an ill-advised deal with a Body Surfer, he's tended to by Gretchen the nun, who cares for him but politely disbelieves all his stories about being an undead 18th-century French nobleman. When he regains his original body and proves it to her, she promptly goes out of her mind and spends the rest of her life in insensate prayer, bleeding from Stigmata in her wrists and ankles.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, Balurian Imperial Guardsmen are driven out of their minds by seeing the tomb of Saint Evisser. Some "saw a world of glory and bounty" and ran blindly into it only to fall into pits or be attacked by cultists, some collapsed and others struck at comrades in the conviction that all around them were corrupt.
  • Warrior Cats: Having already developed a near-crazy obsession with the Warrior Code, the realization that her parents were in fact Leafpool and Crowfeather and her very existence was "breaking the code" pretty did away with what was left of Hollyleaf's sanity at the end of Power of Three.
    • Also, in The Original Series finding out that Tigerclaw is indeed evil, just like Fireheart was trying to tell her all along, pushes Bluestar over the edge for several books.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the test for becoming a chief of the Aiel — a desert warrior society with elaborate honor customs — involves passing through an artifact that causes them to relive key moments across thousands of years that led to their formation. Aiel are such a prideful people that the shameful truth of their origins (being descended from those outcast from a tribe of extreme pacifists) hits hard. Rand enters at the same time as an Aiel, and by the end that man is clawing out his own eyes. Rand has a rather unfair advantage here, since he wasn't raised as an Aiel. Rand later reveals the truth to everyone, and hordes begin to defect from the old warrior lifestyle every day, either vanishing altogether, joining a rogue tribe, or taking up a pacifist slave life.
    • Seen again later with the Seanchan. Their culture believes that women who can use magic are far too dangerous to go free, but also too useful to kill... so they slap collars on them which utterly enslave their wearer and make them puppets to a master, called a sul'dam. Recently, the main characters have disovered that the collars can't be used by anyone who does not have some degree of magical prowess themselves... meaning the sul'dam are essentially the same as the women they treat as objectsnote . When one sul'dam discovers this she undegroes a borderline mental breakdown, and it's speculated that if this knowledge got out publically, it would shake the very foundations of the Seanchan Empire.
    • In Ishamael's backstory, he was a brilliant and world-renowned philosopher, until be became aware that his world runs on Eternal Recurrance. This revelation set him on a downward spiral of madness and nihilism that culminated in him becoming an Omnicidal Maniac and Death Seeker.


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