The Shivering

The Shivering is a physical, psychological and spiritual disease caused by the sudden and forceful change of someone's identity using Tautomancy. Since this is illegal in most countries, this is a very rare condition, but a feared one. It is not deadly by itself (although some of its symptoms might cause death) but there is no known treatment.


The Shivering appears just after a person has their Identity changed. At first, the symptoms will not be as overwhelming, but after some days have passed, they will start to manifest. If the Tautomancer somehow "restored" their Identity to its previous state, most symptoms will disappear.


Broken is the best word to describe how I feel. I lost my fire, my light, my warmth.   I don't see the end of this tunnel.
Beskra, some days after losing her magic due to having their Identity changed.

Common symptoms

Common symptoms are experienced by almost everyone who suffers from the Shivering.

Internal cold
Identity is often described as an internal fire that burns next to the heart. While this might be a metaphorical description, the most common symptom of the Shivering is extreme cold. This cold can hardly be warmed away, as it is not a cold caused by external conditions but by internal ones.

Lack of appetite
Another extremely common symptom of the Shivering is lack of appetite. The person suffering will stop wanting to eat or even drink anything. Unlike with the Firekiss, the body will still need food and water in order to survive. It's important setting a consistent eating routine.

Insomnia, nightmares
Somebody who suffers the Shivering will have huge difficulty sleeping, in part for the fear of having nightmares. The Shivering nightmares tend to be terrible, often reliving the events that led them to their loss.


Frequent symptoms

These symptoms are less common but most sufferers have at least one of them.

The enormous stress caused by the Shivering often ends up causing anxiety to their sufferers. However, it generally does not cause anxiety attacks, but a constant fear and doubting of everything and everyone, even oneself.

Depression is another frequent symptom, and it can cause a whole array of other symptoms. Some common examples are isolation, guilt (generally unjustified), lack of motivation, and lack of energy. In some cases, Shivering depression can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Frequent loss of consciousness
Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the Shivering sufferer will fall unconscious for a short period of time. These losses appear to be random, as they can happen at any time of the day, no matter what the sufferer is feeling or thinking about.


Rare symptoms

These symptoms almost never appear with the Shivering. It should be noted that, when they manifest, they rarely do so immediately after the change of Identity. The slow but unavoidable manifestation of these symptoms is considered by many the worst part of the Shivering.

In some cases, the Shivering can cause amnesia. The type and degree of amnesia vary from person to person. It can be either retrograde amnesia (forgetting memories before the change) or anterograde amnesia (forgetting memories after the event), or even a mix of both types.

Loss of one or more senses
The rarest and most extreme symptom is the permanent loss of one (or more) senses. For unknown reasons, hearing and sight are the most common senses a person might lose, although losing touch, taste or smell is not uncommon either.

I'm senseless; only sight barely remains. I don't remember who are these people claiming to be my family and my friends. I'm cold. For a long time, I didn't know what to do, how to end this suffering.   But now I do.
— Last sentences from a Shivering sufferer's journal.


There is no known treatment for the Shivering. Some of its symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, can be treated individually, but some other symptoms, such as the internal cold or the nightmares are unavoidable. Many people have tried (and still try) to find a cure for this illness, but no one has succeeded. Not even magical Healers seem to be able to cure or, at least, alleviate it.   It's worth saying that, sometimes, a sufferer will manage to completely recover and all symptoms will disappear, leaving no sequels. However, this is extremely rare. When there is recovery, it usually isn't complete and most of the time they will suffer the symptoms until the end.

My doctor says the Shivering is not deadly, that I will survive, albeit in a miserable state. Dying is better, I would say.
Skafrontsesh suffering the Shivering.
Chronic, Acquired


Author's Notes

This article was created during World Ember 2018. You will notice that a huge part of this world is written in Catalan. However, I have some other articles written in English, tagged as #english. Use the search bar at the top to see them.

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2 Dec, 2018 16:16

Very intense to get the Shivering! I like this idea a lot, and it creates the potential for a lot of in world discussion. For example, if a criminal is a mage who murdered with magic, can the gov justify removing their magic? Even if this can be the result? And of course what kind of punishment someone could get for blocking someone's magic and subjecting them to this illness.

2 Dec, 2018 17:53

Yes, permanently blocking magic is a legal punishment for a grave misuse of magic (although it would be the magic School and not the government dealing this punishment). I'll do an article about that in the future. The punishment for blocking someone's magic is having your own magic permanently blocked and being imprisoned. Thanks for reading!

2 Dec, 2018 22:18

I've always thought that to have magical abilities must be a very intimate and personal experience, and you have done a great job describing here the incredible loss and heartbreak a person would feel when being denied it. I am curious about what happens to these people once they get the Shivering. Are they shunned by society and become exiles? Do they found their own communities so that they may suffer together? Surely there must be people who try to find remedies for these symptoms, even if they are uncurable. Great read! Has me thinking about what would happen to people in my world if they lost their magic.   Side note: When using columns like you did in the symptoms section it can be nice to use the [justify] tag to make the text align more smoothly.   Great read! :)

3 Dec, 2018 09:57

Thanks for reading and leaving feedback, I appreciate it! I have [justified] the columns and added the Treatment section (basically saying nope :P).   About the other questions, the thing is, most people who have the Shivering are criminals who have misused their magic (so they had it removed) and are now in prison. Those who are the victims or criminals are very rare and scattered all around the world, so there aren't really support groups or organizations that support the victims.

3 Dec, 2018 12:36

Nice, it looks good! Hehe, now i am imagining secret cults of runaway criminals who suffer from it and seek vengeance upon those who took their magic. :3

3 Dec, 2018 10:47

Great article! Your English is pretty good. It sounds like one of the most horrific illnesses to get.
You said the Cause was a loss of magic. How does one lose their magic?
Say, someone has the Shivering with the kind of Amnesia that is closest to short-term-memory-loss, but then manages to recover. Would they remember that they recovered? Or would they re-live the return of magic over and over again? Or would the amnesia end with the recovery?

3 Dec, 2018 11:13

There a certain type of magic that is about blocking stuff. It's normally used to create magical protections against both spells and physical objects, but it can also be used to remove magic from someone. They wouldn't recover their lost memories, but they would stop forgetting. Same with the rest of symptoms.

3 Dec, 2018 11:21

Really gruesome stuff. You weren't kidding when you told me it was a nasty condition :)   I managed to think of some other things to ask about since we talked about it: Are there any hospices or centers of recovery that specialize in treating/rehabilitating those going through the Shivering? I know it says that there are no treatments or cure, but I imagine that doesn't stop people from trying or worse, con-men from scamming the desperate.   Is that a thing? Are there any desperate miracle cures that people attempt? Are there scammers and schemers that try to exploit the desperate?   How do people in the world see the Shivering? Do they think of it as divine punishment, as a part of the soul rotting, or just accept it as a natural consequence of the Blocking? :)

3 Dec, 2018 11:35

Hi! Thanks for the comment <3   The thing is, most people with the Shivering are criminals that misused their magic, so they had it removed. Which means that they are also in prison. Those who are victims and not criminals are so rare and scattered that making a rehabilitation center is not worth it. In a city with a couple million people, maybe one or two have the Shivering (excluding the criminals in prison), and maybe not even that.   I hadn't thought about scammers, to be honest, so I'll have to think about it. Although, again, it wouldn't be profitable if they only scammed "Shiverers".   About social perception, since most people who block magic are criminals (excluding mages performing the legal punishment), there's no way a god would use them to remove magic from an innocent person. The social perception is the same we have towards people with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression or other mental illnesses: lots of stereotypes and prejudices, but it's been long since they were considered "of the devil".

3 Dec, 2018 15:27

Your explanation of the Shivering is quite good, and laid out in a very easy to read format. It would make sense that someone whose magical essence is ripped out of them would undergo something - whether it be physical or psychosomatic. This was an excellent detail to consider.   However, I'm curious as to the extent of the condition. What percentage of people who lose their magic develop the syndrome? Are there any known steps that could alleviate its symptoms somewhat or prevent it from occurring entirely?

3 Dec, 2018 15:36

Everyone experiences it. The Shivering is a direct and unavoidable consequence of losing your magic. There is no way of preventing it. Some symptoms, such as insomnia, depression or anxiety, can be alleviated through regular medication/therapy, but that's it.   Thanks for reading, I appreciate your comment and your time! <3

3 Dec, 2018 16:11

Love the fear that this could in magic users. It's kinda like losing a part of yourself. My big question is, though its implied is suicidal tendencies caused by the disease? I have another as well. Is the shivering ever confused for other diseases?

3 Dec, 2018 16:25

Suicidal thoughts might or might not appear, depending on the severity of the Shivering and other personal circumstance of the person suffering it. The Shivering can't be confused with other diseases thanks to a specific kind of magic that can detect whether a person can perform mafic or not.   Thanks for reading!

3 Dec, 2018 16:34

No problem! Thanks for clearing it up.

14 Jan, 2019 03:01

This is a heartbreaking condition. The quote near the end really drives the pain of the condition home, and the condition as a whole sheds some interesting light on the culture's perceptions on life and death.   Are there any treatments that have been tried with the Shivering, or superstitions which people hold about it?

14 Jan, 2019 09:20

Yes! The main symptom is cold, so popular knowledge says that fire should be able to cure it. They are wrong, but doctors have tried all kinds of treatments; from rubbing their body with hot coal to making them walk into a fire. These practices are banned now, as they only made them more miserable.   As for superstitions, not really. There used to be superstitions in some parts of the world, where people believed that the Shivering was a divine punishment (like pretty much all diseases), but nowadays almost everyone understands that it's not their fault.   Thanks for the comment! :)