Beware of creatures, evil or otherwise, that can possess or influence your mind and body, for not only may they make you do unspeakable things that you may otherwise never contemplate enacting, but they may leave a mental scarring, sometimes permanent on your psyche, which means that you will never be the same again.Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World. Those that have directly encountered creatures or entities that are capable of charming, dominating or possessing someone’s mind, body or spirit, or who have seen the victims of such creatures first hand will be all too aware of the lingering malady that is left behind in the victim by such an experience, an illness known as Shadowed Mind.
Shadowed Mind is a condition that arises when someone’s mind, body or spirit have been dominated by another entity that has either charmed them, bound them to their will or possessed them. The act of being a host shell, willing or otherwise for another creature, often leaves a ‘shadow’ of the invader’s thoughts, memories and feelings in the brain of the victim. The affliction is not automatically contracted after an episode of being possessed or dominated, but there is always a risk that the experience will leave a mark on the victim’s mind. Some people are naturally more immune to being possessed and to contracting Shadowed Mind, whilst some are more predisposed, through no fault of their own. However, 80% of those who are dominated for another creature, regardless of for how long will contract some form of Shadowed Mind.
Symptoms of Shadowed Mind can vary widely from person to person but will almost always include frequent, severe periods of paranoia, anxiety and a profound fear of feeling vulnerable, or that someone, or more generally something is watching them and listening to their thoughts. In addition, those afflicted with Shadowed Mind can suffer from more serious symptoms including: the sufferer temporarily believing they are the entity that dominated them; having flashbacks to fragments of memory that are not their own; still maintaining a residual connection to that which dominated them, which comes across as feeling snatched thoughts or feelings in real time from their dominator. At its worst, the condition can result in the affected person completely losing any idea of who they are, essentially becoming a blank mental slate.
The best attempt for a cure is to surround the person with memories and materials that relate directly to them, in order to try and ground them in themselves again. The cure with the highest success rate is to return one afflicted with Shadowed Mind to the place of their birth and get them to sleep there for a night. They will still remember what occurred, but the main psychotic effects will have ceased. If this is not possible, then they should be given immediate bed rest, ideally under the influence of a strong sedative in order to minimise the conscious exposure to the effects of Shadowed Mind, which can lead to more permanent damage and possible psychosis as a result of what they might see, hear or experience, or what they believe they see, hear or experience.
More minor cases of Shadowed Mind, especially when recognised and treated promptly will normally have a good prognosis of the suffer returning to a mostly normal state of mind for the individual within a few days. More serious cases can last a lifetime, and in the most severe of cases the sufferer has never been able to return to their normal mental state. However, with all cases of Shadowed Mind, those that have suffered from it will be vastly more predisposed to it, should their minds be dominated again, with the chance of them contracting a more serious form of the affliction greatly increased. Those who have suffered from Shadowed Mind, who feel they are likely to come across situations again where they might come into contact with creatures or individuals capable of possessing them or dominating them, are urged to take further precautions, such as ensuring a healer or magic user can cast a spell of shielding on their mind.
Those that are afflicted with Shadowed Mind will generally be shunned by all except their close family and friends, as it is commonly believed that those who have been dominated by another entity, and who contract Shadowed Mind are the permanent thralls of whatever entity impinged on their mental state in the first place. Though this is only true in the most serious of cases, the result is that such individuals, even after making a full recovery, will have to make a choice between leaving their community and moving somewhere where they are not known, or remain and be continually shunned by their neighbours and kin, whose superstitions over Shadowed Mind mean most will never truly believe the victim is the same person they once were.