Psychogenic Dejection

Psychogenic dejection (PD) is a condition that can affect psions in deep depression and under great mental stress. It can have many effects but the most infamous one is the projection of a psyghost; a psychic emanation of their subconscious frustration, desperation and anger. Psions suffering from PD are colloquially called 'glitches'.

A loud shriek rang through the warehouse, bouncing off the bare metal walls in a cacaphony of alien noise. A bright, pink light danced across the walls from beyond the hundreds of large crates stored in the warehouse.   "Oh god, oh god, oh god!" Telon whimpered and cowered behind a crate, visibly shaking.   "There are no gods." Carla snarled. "And even if there were, they wouldn't give a fuck about you. Shut up!"   The light and the howling was coming closer.   "What is that thing!?" Telon yelped.   "It's a glitch and if you don't shut up, I'll shoot you myself." Drax muttered from next to him. "You don't want that thing to find us."   The howling voice cried out into the cavernous space of the warehouse. "You cannot hide!"
— Drax and Carla on an extraction encounter a psyghost.
 

Cause

Psychogenic dejection only affect psions that are deeply depressed, under great mental stress or otherwise mentally tormented. It is common for these individuals to start exhibiting psychic abilities at random, often unconsciously. Most of these effects only happen when the psion is incapable of controlling their mind, such as when sleeping, when they are unconscious or in a coma. Psions in a coma are known to display these effects even without being in great mental distress.   However, only psions of sufficient power are able to project a psyghost as it takes a tremendous toll on their body and mind. The energy required to project a psyghost is often enough to kill them. Most psions will already have drained themselves long before they get to the point of trying to escape their own mind.  

Epidemiology

While it isn't a contagious disease that has any carriers or transmission vectors, the state of society and the persecution of psions is well enough to drive most of them into a state of survival instinct, paranoia and stress. Mental health issues among the psion population are many and there is scant help for them to get, as outing themselves as psions would be a huge risk.   Far from every psion suffers or will suffer from PD even though they may suffer from temporary depression. It requires a psion of sufficient strength to project their psionic energy outwards, and a strong enough emotional distress. Only about 2-3% of psions suffer from PD, far fewer than those that suffer from general depression and stress.  

Symptoms

The psion is most often not even aware that they are projecting because they are asleep. Their projected self is entirely controlled by their subconscious mind, as if they were dreaming and act largely on instinct and emotion. This makes the psyghosts incredibly dangerous, irrational and violent.

Type
Mental
Origin
Natural
Cycle
Short-term
Rarity
Rare

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Not all psions who suffer from PD have the strength and ability to project a full psyghost. The majority of PD cases will instead exhibit bouts of unconscious telekinesis, indiscriminate telepathy, emotional projection and even uncontrolled White Noise.  

Treatment

Treating psychogenic dejection is no different than treating any other form of severe depression. While therapy has proven to be quite effective, albeit slow, the most common form of treatment is chemical. Psions suffering from depression or even early stages of PD usually self-medicate with whatever drugs they can get their hands on. The few who do seek help are often prescribed common, off-the-shelf anti-depressants that are less effective than street drugs or sensotech stimulants.  

Dealing with psyghosts

A psyghost projection is a psionic entity but does partially interact with the physical world. While it cannot be harmed by physical projectiles or even stopped by physical walls, it does get hindered by them, as if it was like water. The only way to truly harm a psyghost is to attack it with enough energy to completely disrupt it. Energy weapons are all about equally effective against psyghosts. A psyghost who is destabilised to the point of dispersion dies and the psion with them as the body cannot live without the mind. The psion becomes a comatose, braindead individual often living for only a few more hours before the body shuts down.  

Prevention

Preventing PD is a case of mental health care. In a society like Fusion City it is hard not to be struck by melancholy or depression, at least if you aren't one of the people swimming in money. However, far from every depressed psion will suffer from PD. It's usually only the most traumatized individuals who will ever reach the point of mental escape.  

Prognosis and sequela

Psyghost
Interesting by Rudolf Getel
While most psions will either die due to burnout or recover from their depression, not all recover entirely and some might even suffer lasting consequences of their PD bout. Extreme cases include:  
  • Memory bleed: Waking up having absorbed other people's worst memories and experiences, suddenly remembering them as your own.
  • Projection addiction: Feeling compelled to seek unconsciousness to repeat the mental escape.
  • Mental possession: Repeatedly seeking out an individual that appeals to you and gradually supplant their mind with your own.
  Memory bleed is a horrifying effect that can happen during PD where a psion functions a conduit or psychic "vacuum cleaner". They absorb other people's memories and experiences and make them their own, waking up with tens or maybe hundreds of emotionally distressing experiences they now believe to be their own, yet feel completely alien in.   Some grow addicted to the psyghost experience and even though the projection is largely a traumatic experience, they find that they are compelled to seek unconsciousness in order to escape their mind, "be free" and have an outlet for their pent up frustration, rage and pain.   The most egregious of effects commonly only affect those that suffer from body or gender dysphoria, severe disassociation or dissociative identity disorder. These PD-sufferers tend to unconsciously try to escape the confines of their own body and inhabit another body they feel they identify better with. Over time, this mental possession can become permanent and the target victim's personality is completely erased as the psion transfers their mind to the new body. This usually ends in tragedy as the psions mind is ill-equipped to physically maintain the new body, and differing hormone levels or even species means that these psions usually die within hours of transferrance, causing the effective death of both individuals.  

Cultural reception

Treatment comes with great risk to anyone near the psion as they have a tendency to lash out against the people they know when they project. Even friends, family and loved ones can become threats and enemies in the twisted world of the paranoid, terrified and violent PD sufferer. This becomes particularly dangerous with a psion that exhibits full on psyghost projection.   PD psions are the poster boys for anti-psion propaganda. Every time there is a PD incident and people get hurt or injured, there is always someone who tries to score political points on the incident and use it as fuel to enact anti-psion legislation. A PD psion is usually very quickly discovered and "taken care of" by government medical services.


Cover image: Free Fractal Art - Modified by Tobias Linder by Tobias Linder

Comments

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yeslittlehummingbird-deleted
Anna Elizabeth Boyett
3 Jul, 2019 08:29

T?his is.... What is there to say about this. It's really, really hard to find anything to say about this article that isn't praise; It's well researched. It's honest. It's brutal. It covers all the bases... And yet it still remains sensitive to the issue of mental health; I particularly enjoyed the use of quotes on the bit at the end where you say "taken care of"- and the mention of society's ill treatment of the individuals. I just... Wow. Damn. I really wish I could find something to critique in this but I just can't. You deserve a standing ovation.

3 Jul, 2019 08:32

<3   That means a lot to me. Thank you! It's very hard writing about a subject that you have no experience of. I've been depressed at times, but never suffered severe depression or chronic depression, so I had to do a fair bit of research for this one.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
yeslittlehummingbird-deleted
Anna Elizabeth Boyett
3 Jul, 2019 09:08

As someone with Bipolar type II, I really R E A L L Y appreciate the amount of research and effort you put into it. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart <3

3 Jul, 2019 10:47

WOW!   This really freaked me out, very interesting idea and you've executed it so well too! I have one thing which troubled me from the start, I can't seem to figure out what a psion is. A little word explanation at the first mention (like a tooltip) would be a great way to make sure your readers don't get confused :D   The first quote was wonderful btw, really drew me in and made me want to read even more; the rest of the article didn't change that!   The "treatment" part really lingered with me, you've written this so well. I'm both terrified but also sad on behalf of the ones who are affected by this. The self-medication is gruesome but really shows how much they suffer. The last part about anti-psion propaganda is also a good addition because it reflects something we've seen in our own world.   One thing that would be cool to see added, is a table over how many percent of psions are affected. Maybe something about those managing to get "cured" relapsing or something. Some kind of stats :D   Your article is wonderful. The way you've written about sensitive subjects... I'm impressed.

3 Jul, 2019 10:55

Welp, there is a link in the very first time "psion" is mentioned, but due to how Worldanvil currently works, it doesn't show for non-subscribers. Here's an excerpt for Psions:  

Psions are people who have had significant mutations to their brains, allowing them a wide range of psionic abilities. Colloquially known as 'psychos', most psions prefer the term esper or psion. Psions are rare in Domedweller populations and like other mutated individuals, occur almost exclusively in families that live near the Perimeter Wall or in the Shadowmark itself.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
3 Jul, 2019 10:57

Oooooh... :D   Thank you!, I'd more or less pieced it together by the end, but having the confirmation really helps :3

3 Jul, 2019 11:04

It's okay, I keep forgetting that's the case. I added a tooltip to the second time Psion is mentioned, for non-susbscribers.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
3 Jul, 2019 11:06

Perfect!

Master Redclaw123
Elias Redclaw
3 Jul, 2019 10:56

WOw. what can i say. I really tried finding something to critique here but i just failed. This... this is a truly great article and one thats also kind of heavy hitting with the theme it gets. Its beautifully researched, and gets the topic of mental illness across extremely well and realistically. The usage of block links also gave this article a gigantic amount of depth and overall, i just looked everywehre and i just failed to find anything to critique. the only thing i can even remotlely want to learn about this is the history of the disease. When were they first reported? But besides that, i really cant say anything else because damn, this article was heavy hitting. As a person who suffers from major depression and social anxiety, This definitely gets the point across extremely well. You really deserve the praise Anna gave you!

3 Jul, 2019 15:24

Kind of a difficult question. When was depression first recorded? Do we even know? But it's probably somewhere within the last 50-70 years, considering psions didn't show up in the population until after the Cataclysm, and only then in the second and third generation survivors.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
3 Jul, 2019 17:16

This is a great article. I think it says a lot about your world and the world the Psions are forced to live in. It's definitely not an easy one.   It did bring up some questions though, that might add something to the article. First, you mention a lot of PD sufferers aren't strong enough to project a psyghost, but then it's presented as the main symptom. What else happens with the lesser sufferers? You said bouts of random telekinesis, but I'd like to know more. Does it eventually progress to the point they try and manifest a psyghost anyway and just burnout? Or does it stay at them randomly using their powers?   Anyway, everything is wonderfully written, and the layout is excellent. I had to stretch to find something to ask about. Looking forward to seeing more!

3 Jul, 2019 18:32

Good questions!   That's likely something I'll delve into when I make a second run at this article once I've finished all the prompts for SummerCamp. You're right that the non-psyghost ones kinda got glossed over in favor of the "worst-case-scenario".   Thank you for the feedback and read!

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
3 Jul, 2019 21:08

Honestly, this is a pretty solid article that explains the equivalent of psychic depression. The idea of the mind wanting to escape the body, with the idea that at night they just go ahead and have psychic fits throwing furniture around or even having telepathy with you.   I actually though want to ask a question about the Psyghost: as good as I can summarise, they're practically the mind escaping the body, making it almost kill the Psion in the progress? While it seems like at this point the Psion is actively lost by that point, although is there any chance that the Psyghost actually can be pulled back into the body? Additionally, could say another Psion therapist be hired to essentially "hold" the mind of another person in, to prevent them from actively killing themselves?   Either way, this article deserves a like! Great job, a spooky yet somewhat saddening article about the effects of psychic depression!

2% story, 98% non-related lore | Tales of Fabulae | Twitter
4 Jul, 2019 06:23

Yes, usually the psyghost disappear if the psion wakes up. But they can be very difficult to rouse when projecting.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
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