Speaking to a mute patient in the Sanitarium of Defiance Bay allows you to peer into his soul, finding that most of what was done to him was For Science! and a researcher's lust for curing the Hollowborn. Bear in mind that this experiment is affecting his soul.
Soul Memory: Then [Azlo] turns a knob and you feel yourself begin to crack from within and you can feel pieces of you torn away, like having your insides chewed by a horde of rats, and you are screaming a scream you can barely hear.
Eadric Morley: My son and daughter are buried beneath the floor of my house. We don't own no land, so that's where we lay them. My son, my wife let him slip while she was bathing him, got water in his lungs he couldn't cough up. My daughter, we put her to bed one night and the next morning she wasn't breathing. This Hollowborn thing, it ain't ending. And it ain't ending 'cause we still let these charlatans play god. There's your proof, you damned copperfucker!
Prior to this, Edér can give you a bit of insight into the day-to-day struggles of those that had tried "The Salvation"Explanation Implanting the souls of animals (typically pets) into Hollowborn children with their Hollowborn children.
Edér: "The mother, she wouldn't have anything to do with the girl after [she'd eaten her brother]. But the father, he'd visit her every day. Feed her chickens. Toss water on her once in a while to get the dirt off. Most of the village, they'd whisper about him. 'Poor man', they'd say, 'Sick with grief.'" He shakes his head, and his eyes narrow, contemplative. "He was just waiting for his daughter to look up one day and recognize her papa. He was waiting for her to get better. Didn't understand that at the time, of course. But these days I think about him a lot."
Aloth's personal quest, in which you find out that his father regularly beat him and his mother, and his mother abandoned both him and her husband to live as a thayn's mistress. These circumstances made him develop a second personality to survive (which is actually something that can happendue to extreme trauma). He has to relive the memories when his soul is being examined.
The end of Sagani's personal quest. She's spent five years of her life, away from her husband and children, searching for a reincarnation of a village elder. She finally finds him, reincarnated as a stag. Worse, he's dying after being shot by hunters. All she can do is recount events of her tribe as he bleeds to death. Afterwards, she sounds so defeated, faced with the notion that her search was utterly pointless and a failure.
The Grieving Mother, for all of her creepiness, is actually one of the kindest and sweetest members of the party. Which makes the discovery of what she feels so guilty about even more heartwrenching than it would be normally, because there's absolutely no doubt that she was trying to do the best thing possible, and in so doing became responsible for at least a few Wicht-induced fatalities.
She normally speaks to you in a monotone, stoic voice, but once her final memory is revealed she's on the verge of tears. You could hear the pain in her voice as she remembers.
Iovara, refusing to break under torture and knowing full well that after the Inquisition tortures her to death, they'll lock her soul away into eternal torment, finds a way to taunt her captors. The way her voice actress delivers those lines almost makes you feel the agony that Iovara had experienced—and defied.
Thaos: You are ready to give a confession? Iovara: I am ready... to hear one... from you!
At the end of the game you can send her back to the Wheel without any memories of her revelation, thus rendering all her struggles meaningless.
The resolution of Zahua's personal quest "Secrets of the Tacan". He journeys to Whitestone Hollow hoping that the spirits can show him the lost secrets of the Tacan, which he believes might give him the strength to save his people. Instead, they make him face the truth that he's been hiding from all this time: those secrets are long gone, and so are the Tacan themselves after they were defeated by a stronger tribe and assimilated into their culture. Ultimately, the spirits are just trying to tell him that it's time to let go of the past.
The end of Edér's personal quest, "Fragments of a Shattered Faith".note Seeing the pattern here? He's desperate for some kind of explanation for why his brother, Woden, ended up fighting for Waidwen, when Edér himself fought against him. Not because he thinks his brother chose the wrong side - because he's worried he did. In the end, despite crossing half the Dyrwood to track down the site of his brother's last battle, Edér never does find out what Waidwen said that made his brother change sides. The hopelessness in his voice is absolutely crushing to listen to.
Edér: "It's a funny thing. You can tell yourself that a hundred different ways. Makes no difference in the end."
This speech, from Edér, which he only gives if the Watcher and your other companions can't talk Bearn down:
Edér: Listen to me. You gotta listen, kid. Bearn. During the Saint's War, me and my brother, we had a choice to make. It was just like this. We saw it different, he and I. He chose our god. I didn't. Edér: I'll never see him again. Edér: And I don't know where his soul is now, but I don't think Eothas was around to save it. You're gonna stay here. There's better ways to serve your god. you can build something in his honor, like I did. A town. A temple. A good life. Edér: Maybe not a statue...