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People can be terrible to each other. That such terribleness would shape a powerful kid into a ruthless one isn’t shocking. Zinc I think its popularity had more to do with presentation than content. It wasn’t as much that the tragedies he’d suffered were implausible, but rather that they were (or seemed to some to be) “laid on thick” – by being shown trauma after trauma, consistently escalating, with no positive memories (except for the very first one), and hitting many cliches and tropes, such as corrupt government and animal cruelty. Of course the authors are the ones who ultimately decided to present his backstory in this manner, but it is not unreasonable to wonder whether in-story Patrick has control over which memories Alison is exposed to here and in what order, or if it’s out of his hands; and if he chooses what to show, than to what end, and could they have been modified as well? Personally I agree with you – we already knew that Patrick was mentally unhinged and the most successful super villain known to us. That such a personal could have an especially traumatic background should not be surprising. And that his backstory would be condensed to a “highlight reel” rather than taking an entire issue to draw out is a necessity of the medium. Tylikcat In story, it makes sense – Alison more or less dived into the vault of bad memories, and oh, look, there are some really fucking bad memories there. I do think childPatrick might well have an agenda – but it’s entirely likely that his agenda can be served by the truth (I’m wondering if childPatrick, being the one who built the original barriers, is also the least emotionally fractured of the bunch.) But… I’m also wondering about Gurwara, and, assuming Gurwara wasn’t a figment, if his role might have been more than incidental in where Alison ended up. It seems not out of keeping with the Trickster role he’s played before? (I am still open to liking Gurwara – or not – but, seriously, WTF?) Zinc I agree wholeheartedly. Re: Gurwara – I am very fond of Gurwara as a character; I think we need to find out more about his ulterior motives before passing judgment on his person. That said, what he (or his colleagues) did to poor professor Karapovsky was pretty horrible. Tylikcat Yeah, that exactly. And frankly, rummaging around in Patrick’s brain doesn’t fill me with confidence. R Lex Eaton Nor me. And despite my lengthy diatribes against him, I wanted to make something clear… I only despise Gurwara as a person. I love his purpose as a character. Jeremy I wonder if childPatrick’s agenda is to fill a deep unmet need for a healthy, loving relationship. Alison seems to be the closest Patrick has ever gotten to love and healthy connection. It wouldn’t be surprising if childPatrick longed to connect with her. I wonder if Patrick’s parents are still alive. Tylikcat childPatrick has directly expressed regret for pushing her away. David Gillon Gurwara as Trickster is an interesting point, Trickster’s lessons hurt. And I think you’ve nailed it that Alison has dived headlong into the memories Patrick finds so uncomfortable that he has to lock them away. She’s swimming in the things that break him to think about. Tylikcat I don’t know if it’s entirely by chance on childPatrick’s part she ended up there, either. I mean, her fight with Patrick (actual Patrick) might have mostly resulted in breaking the functional unity between the Patricks. childPatrick and the RecordKeeper seem really into the emotional side of their relationship. Anima… seems to be all about keeping the barriers up. Weatherheight “She’s swimming in the things that break him to think about.” Vivid imagery! Vlogsister98 It just occurred to me that since he automatically receives the memories of people he mind reads, he is going to have to see her memories of seeing his bad memories that he has repressed for so long. David Gillon Which he could further repress – though whether he’s capable of that at the moment is a question. Blahorga Slisk The “laid on thick” argument can be explained by these being memories of a child. If you think back to your first memories and go forward from there I’m guessing most of us will find a lot of memories of our parents, mostly good times (I hope), but also that time you got lost in the woods/department store/library or wherever, the time you broke that vase you knew you parents loved or any number of similar events. The ordinary days when nothing really bad or good happened are not what left markers in your mind. The sky was either clear or it was raining and the thunder going off all around you… For Patric the happy loving parents was something he either never knew or he lost them once his talent started to show. I have a hard time believing that his mother ever was very affectionate, but I can believe that she tolerated him as long as he was “normal”. His father was probably more loving, but for some reason he seems to have been broken in the memory snippets we’ve seen him. Either he was always submissive to his wife, or something happened when Patrik first gained his powers. But that’s really a long shot with no evidence to support the theory. Hate, disgust, betrayal, abandonment and loneliness were however something Patric learned a lot about. So there is no real balance in his memories, and that makes it look exaggerated. Tylikcat I realize this is utterly besides the point, but that’s so not how my memory works! I suppose my very earliest memories tended to be stand out ones, but even by the time I was two they’re mostly… ordinary. And, um, a lot of them are highly concerned with bodily processes. Color me bemused. Blahorga Slisk Having talked about memories with some friends it appears we, that’s you and I, are a bit odd as we have very early memories, for me some of those has to be from before I turned two. Most of my friends say their earliest memories are from when they were four or five years old. For me the earliest memories are things like the poster showing edible mushrooms on the wall of the cabin where my family spent the summer when I was two years old. It’s the toy car I got from a relative that summer. It was a Fiat Spider, red, and it came in a display case. That display case was very hard to break into, for a two year old at least. Actually I broke a door on the car trying to rip it free from the base plate… It’s feeding the squirrels and birds around that cabin together with my older sister, and how the birds claws kind of hurt as they landed on my hand. My sister hand feed those squirrels, but they never trusted me, and I think that might have had something to do with me being two years old and not having a lot of patience… Weatherheight Reading your memories made me smile. Thank you. And for the record, in my head, you were an adorable, plump, curly headed child with a huge smile, except when the squirrels wouldn’t draw near – then you had the cutest scowl. Debbie Jackson I have two or three early memories from my first couple years of life, but only major and vivid events, generally negatively scarring as well – positive ones are much harder for me to recall in detail and I generally remember the small stains discolouring those all too easily. Wish it wasn’t this way, but.. On the other hand imagined positive future ideas are pastel-washed and optimistic dioramas. Blahorga Slisk I think that as a young child we are expecting love, warmth and happiness to be the default state. That makes anything negative stand out in our memories. I’m lucky in that nothing really bad happened to me these first years of my life. The worst of my early memories include things like getting lost in a department store. To many this doesn’t sound like a very traumatic event, but that just brings home how free from drama my childhood was. It also tells me that my parents did a pretty good job even though they had very limited resources. Tylikcat Part of me wants to totally tangent and spam you with links to edible mushroom posters – I adore mycology. Ahem 🙂 But yes, this does seem to be on the unusual side. I really appreciated the discussion from some pages back for reminding me of this fact, because it prodded me to ask my sister about her early memories (I know her memory is similar to mine in many ways, but I hadn’t thought to ask her this) and not only does hers also start at around 1.5 years, but it gave us a chance to reminisce about things like the summer we spent at Stanford as children. (The Olympic size pool! The shared courtyard between the houses for visiting professors, and the children from the other families. How we’d stand on the back of a rickety bench while trying to solve rubick’s cubes… Learning to draw pictures in static on our blankets at night.) The earliest memory I could date isn’t that kind of date – it’s a pony ride at the zoo when I was around a year and a half. Thrilling and terrifying and all by myself! Lots of things that I could date because they were family events – the bicycle trip to Ashland, OR, on the seat on the back of my mother’s bike, sleeping beneath the stars in clear weather. The time I pulled much of the plaster off the wall near my crib. (It was exhilarating. Any time I could change the world, I loved it. There was a little crack, and I was bored – yes, one can see character traits that continue into my adult life. I try to harness them for good. Or at least, away from their most destructive aspects! Okay, maybe my mother had a bit of a point about me. I just refuse to be sympathetic to her response.) Loranna . . . My first memory is waking up one morning, knowing that I was 4 years old, and having a bowl of TEAM Flakes. I really, really liked TEAM Flakes. Just thought I’d toss that out there 🙂 *goes looking for more TEAM Flakes* Loranna 3-I I continue to maintain that they are searching for a watsonian explanation to protect them from losing Patrick as a power fantasy. If you view the child abuse victim as a sociopathic adult, you can pretend that he is still the one in control. Zinc I have not seen anyone in the comment section accept your claim that Patrick fulfills some power fantasy in Patrick, and I have seen people outright deny it. Perhaps it is more charitable to assume that other commenters are honest about their motivations. 3-I Do you often find that people claim “I like this character because they are a power fantasy for me”? Gotham “Wait weren’t we in a car? I’m still barefoot and I’m not sure the conceptual Void That Binds your homeless upbringing was vaccumed recently” GreatWyrmGold “We’re literally walking around in the metaphorical dark corner where I shove all the crud I don’t like to think about. You can’t vacuum it—if I had a better place to put the metaphorical vacuum bags, I wouldn’t need this place.” palmvos lets be honest here- barefoot Alison steps on a 16 penny nail poking out of a piece of wood covered with all sorts of ‘interesting’ stuff. said piece of wood is now sort of nailed to the floor. Theobservantwolf That’s a hell of a choice to have to make, and no wonder his relationship with Allison shook things up! MoonicaMusing So is “component” that need for love (or some other artifact associated with it… feelings of love or being appreciated) that’s leaking from behind the barrier? Sterling Ericsson That would explain why his happy tv time would be infected with it. Lostman So… how did you form a organization that tired to take over the world again? Thomas S He walled off his EQ and processed the world with his IQ … tygertyger Yeah… that never ends well. Cyranose But, but, Allison was chasing her ersatz substitute teacher (forgot his name) when she jumped through the figurative rabbit hole and wound up in young Patrick’s front yard? Doesn’t anyone besides me wonder why she seems to have totally forgotten this? Or why the authors have wrenched the plot this far sidewise? After all, Allison’s purpose in entering Patrick’s mind was to find out about the meta conspiracy, and her old “professor” was the best evidence of it we’ve seen so far. It is difficult for me to believe she would have totally forgotten she was chasing him. MrSing I think that it is fair to say that Allison is very easily swayed by emotional pleas and quickly swept up into the moment. It’s kinda amazing how bad she is at resisting any sort of manipulation or keeping her eyes on her goals. Weatherheight My head canon is that all of this is intentional on Patrick’s part (which reflects my Patrick bias). Alison is being manipulated and Patrick is pulling out all the stops and really playing her like a pipe organ. Having been a Game Master for nearly 30 years straight, it never fails to amaze me how easily distracted players can be by the shiny and new. I’ve always thought it was a gamer issue, but I’ve come to realize we all have a touch of this in us. The only difference is in the degree to which we can get distracted. I’ve done far less clever or interesting things in-game as a “well, they’re getting too close, let’s have the bad guy do something to throw them off the scent”, and it damned near always works. And my players have included some very, very intelligent folks (far smarter than I, in fact). It’s quite possible that this is exactly as it appears. In that case, yeah, I’m in complete agreement – Alison needs to wise up. Tylikcat No, not entirely. If he lacked ability to empathise, he would not have been able to build the organization he did. Anarquistador Well, he can read other people’s minds. If he knows what people are feeling, he can PRETEND to empathize. It would get him the same result: people working for him or with him to help achieve his goals, goals which he would have convinced them were in line with their own. saysomethingclever i don’t think he’s pretending. just because he ignores his own need for love, doesn’t mean he can’t understand that others do need it, and “help” them with that. as you point out he knows what they are feeling. he’s very smart, and empathy actually is the method by which he manipulates loyalties. Zac Caslar And neutralizing a need for love hardly equals eliminating all actual capacity for empathy. That’s a little like insisting someone without a sex drive cannot appreicate love. Moreoever there is no hard and certain division between IQ and EQ as at the minimum the measurement of IQ is shifting from strictly being the accurate retention of information to also including an individual’s talent for extracting the more important elements of an incident from all the rest of the details. So, no. Patrick numbing himself to heartache is not Patrick numbing himself completely. Tylikcat *blink* So, theory behind how such tests are constructed is not my game, and I’m perhaps a little allergic to it. But, having been used as a lab rat, and taken more IQ tests (and other test) than is healthy for anyone, I’m pretty sure I can say with some certainty that retention of information has never been more than a small part of what I’ve been tested on, and that’s generally been the most boring part. (Though, that familial memory thing again.) Problem solving and analysis were always far more entertaining. (The scope for creativity didn’t tend to be all that broad – I don’t think I ever met an IQ with an essay section, more’s the pity, which would have made the whole process a lot less annoying if I had to be taking them at all. But the twistier math was always fun.) Weatherheight When I was quite young, there were basically about three or four variants of IQ tests, all purportedly measuring information retention. The older I get, the more variants there are – the definition of intelligence has expanded to include modes of perception, empathy/emotion, kinesthetics, aesthetics / creativity, and informational manipulation (as opposed to information retention, which is what is usually meant by an “IQ test”. The history of IQ tests is both fascinating and frustrating – some of the early assumptions were… perhaps not as well thought out as they might have been. The idea that a person’s ability to move their body is directly related to how their brain works isn’t all that intuitive but bears out pretty well, for example. I tend to “test” well (taking tests doesn’t tense me up), so I tend to score fairly well regardless of the test. It was a bit of a shock for my parents when I was retested at 11 years and they got a whole new slew of results that weren’t tested when I was 6. The portion on pattern recognition and manipulation was new to them and required a school visit. My results were so outside their areas of expertise (math and engineering) that they wanted to make sure they understood the data (which is such a mathematician / engineer response that i makes me smile). Tylikcat I was writing yesterday in between a lot of stats mashing for a presentation today, which is probably not the best mental state for either reading or writing responses. (Nnngh. Goalposts being moved. Grr. Argh! I just want to finish things up and go make some nice fun robots for a while! Biology is hard, let’s go hacking!) The most standard of the IQ tests… are also the earliest ones I took. I suppose retention of information was a big part? *squints hard at definitions* (I can only wish kinesthetics was more of a part!) All the later ones were experimental, and I don’t know which, if any, went anywhere. I suppose it’s a terrible blind spot, but I am more avoidant of the work from that center in particular than I am of psych literature in general (I’ve largely gotten over myself regarding primary experimental literature – and that had far less to do with my educational environment that my mother.) Now that so many of my cohort are in touch, I do hear a lot second hand, and now that a good friend is on the BoD for the current program I might take a more active interest. Heck, I might even try to get on the board if I ever end up back in the area. Though there are bets on whether letting former students on the board signals the beginning of the end. The best twisty math were in the experimental instruments. I did enjoy that bit of them. (That was such a fucked up period of my life.) Weatherheight Howard Gardner did a lot of work in expanding how we define intelligence – and there’s still a lot of work being done in expanding and defining what exactly what is meant when they talk about intelligence. There are some serious problems with the work – not the least of which is that it seems mostly to be a linguistics game rather than a practical framework for exploring the idea – and later studies seem to suggest that there isn’t much empirical evidence to back it up (that being very good at one of the 8 or 9 areas also correlates to being highly intelligent in the more traditional information retention measures. I didn’t get in on this idea until 7 years after this research was published and had pretty much decided that I’d had enough of school I had practically no debt from college and didn’t feel enough fire to rack up more. I did read the book that proposed this framework after college and it was… difficult, I guess. One of those books that leave you realizing how inadequate your education is for the text (i.e. I need a lot more study to even begin fathoming the insights therein). https://blog.adioma.com/9-types-of-intelligence-infographic/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Gardner Tylikcat It occurs to me that, having come at this conversation by a weird route, you may or may not have been in the path of one of my rants against IQ test biases and how IQ tests tend to be used. (It’s not particularly original on the former, but fairly broadly scathing on the latter. So, possibly skippable, but, in terms of knowing where I’m coming from.) I’ve ranted elsewhere on this forum, but I don’t know what parts you were here for. On my facebook wall was recently hosted a discussion with my EEP cohort about what could have made the program reasonable. It wasn’t the most productive conversation – I don’t know of any EEP parents who have elected to enroll their own children, though many have been invited to, and many are still incredibly bitter about their own experiences, so there was a lot of focus on what not to do. But one of the things several people mentioned was testing for more kinds of intelligence. I’d be interested, though, one thing about neurobio is one gets spoiled on experimental rigor. (This isn’t saying that I think that’s the only way to roll – I know I need to loosen up. If I can cope with econ research, psych shouldn’t even give me the willies.) (Mind, for personal motivation, which is about the only thing that would get me taking on heavy out of field reading at the moment, it would either have to portray me as less or a freak, or serve the kind of rosetta stone function the LLI research did.) Weatherheight Having spent more than a little time looking into them, my best conclusion is that most of them are less than rigorous from an experimental point of view (even using the limited rigor of psychology). I do think we’re finally getting into a period where we can now effectively gather data as long as we’re willing to completely set aside ethical issues surrounding privacy, approach it from more epidemiological method, and fund that research over a 40 year period. Not hopeful on any of those points though. Tylikcat Which way are you hoping wrt privacy?! (Apparently today I am manifesting as a porcupine, because all my quills are now sticking out!) Weatherheight If we’ve got a concern about privacy, that trumps the science until the science can grant the privacy. There ought to be a way to collect data and keep it private, not only from the general public but also from the subjects – knowing they’re under observation influences their performance, biasing the data. I’m realist enough to understand that’s probably an unrealistic hope at present. Given those two points, ethical considerations about privacy would negate any possibility of such a study coming to fruition on a scale where the data would be useful (I’m setting aside the problem of who the heck do we trust with developing and conducting the study). Anne McCaffrey has a conceit in one of her series of novels where an unbreakable security code guards each person’s personal data; only the person can share that data, and any data input remains that person’s property. I remember reading that and thinking, “Hmmm – how in the world would that work?” and then shrugging and moving on with it as a given. So many levels of problems with that. Weatherheight Hmm – reply went away. Sorry about that. Always in favor of more privacy on personal matters – I’d like to see guaranteed privacy become a thing so we can conduct studies to see what actually works to make people healthier and happier and not accidentally focus negative vibes on folks with problems in the process. Anne McCaffrey has a plot point in her Killashandra series where the combination of effective AI psych programs, cultural-wide personal journaling, and unbreakable privacy protocols on those journals is a thing, and it results in a healthier psyches and greater respect overall (there are of course outliers in the novels to emphasize why these things matter). Of course, perfect privacy is also what all the really bad people in the world are hoping for too (organized crime, abusers of all sorts, and so on). Ain’t nothin’ in this word that’s always a good thing all the time. Tylikcat Ooo, boy. So, like, you know that I hang with a lot of hackers, right? (And have been one, and am one, depending on how you use the term. Certainly, classically.) I mean, for the most part highly placed computer security consultants, and and important core technology infrastructure type people. Oh, and some hackers turned lawyers, and a lot of hacker / activists. Those sorts of hackers. So I maybe have too many opinions on this subject? Also, I spent a bit of time in bioinformatics, which meant I learned a bit about clinical bioinformatics, just because my career can’t make any sense. Run while you can. Our technical ability to encrypt data, and come up with unique keys or whatever is pretty darned good. There are issues there, but in terms of medical data they’re so drastically far from the most pressing issues. Things that we know: even just in terms of standard electronic medical records, most hospital computer security is laughably, horribly bad. And you know how there are HIPAA regulations requiring moving towards (or at least highly incentivizing, I don’t know the details) electronic records? Ahaha..! It’s pretty ridiculous. Worse, there are several companies competing for that market, and last I heard not one of them had clue the first. It’s a nightmare, unless you have a reason to hack someone’s records. The biggest thing preventing disaster is that it is such a giant mess. This isn’t a good safe guard, and it doesn’t guard a lot. This isn’t quite the same as study records, which might be regulated differently. I haven’t had to work under IRB regs, I don’t know – you’re more likely to, really. (Though I seem to recall a particularly large patient records database that was used for clinical research and that I did look at at one point – as a database design consultant – was not impressively secured. Anyway, that was, like a decade ago. And there have been scandals since then!) Okay, moving on. The next bit has to do with the parts of the data that get used. You might have seen a paper about how frequently there is enough informtion in case studies to narrow it down to an individual with a little Google-fu? Similar techniques have been used by adopted children and children of sperm donors whose biological parents had not expressed interest in contact. Often, data says more than one necessarily is aware of. I’d express particular concern if the subject of research is high intelligence. Certainly, not everyone with particularly high intelligence ends up in research, by any means! But you start skewing your probabilities, kind of a lot. (And I can tell you from experience how weird and short the social connections in science can be, even when they’re spanning the globe. Like, one of my best friend as a teenager, from Seattle, is married to a man from Cali, who worked on bees. They know a woman, finishing her doctorate in Seattle, who I met through another friend, who also works on bees. She headed out of Switzerland, to the same institute as the girlfriend of our former post-doc (she also works on bees, and is from Arizona). So of course, I’m trying to introduce both of them to a former labmate who now works in the UK, who, these days, works on bees. And this just sticks in my head because hello, I have never worked on bees (though I really like bees). Anyhow, the chances that research subjects would end up meeting their researchers is probably higher than one might imagine. Sure, only some of them, but, like, there will be marriages and shit, too. Politically I fall pretty firmly on the pro-strong encryption side of things. (But then, I’m also free and open source software girl. Basically, politically in this space I’m more or less a Pirate, I just want to shout at them until they have a workable economic platform. <= I hate being the most conservative person in the room. Though in tech, it doesn't happen that often.) But… well, I'm a supporter of libsec who also studied the political economics of the twentieth century pretty seriously, which leaves me kind of sad and cynical. Weatherheight Since I am aware of your previous employment at one of the leading software firms of the 20th century, I am also keenly aware that your knowledge base far exceeds mine in this area. I welcome opinions from an informed source. 😀 I got out of the whole research / clinical / higher education scene years ago and securing personal data back then was… well, laughable isn’t anywhere near harsh enough (knew a guy who dumped something on the order of 50k records into a recycling bin out back of the research center). I do, however, have a number of friends still hip-deep in all of that and uniformly they concur with your analysis. I have one friend who does optical medical imaging (hardware/software, the whole enchilada) and also works with the data storage end of hospital records (in Houston, last I heard), and he spends most of his time trying to explain why they at some point need to start emulating military-industrial-complex security and sooner is much much better. Haven’t spoken to him in months (need to remedy that…), but even the stuff he *can* tell me makes me shudder. Tylikcat I think, also, I misread which parts there you were saying were dubious. Casting shade on traditional IQ tests always cheers me up. Weatherheight De nada – criticism from you is always registered in the “Valid” column, and usually comes from me not stating something well. David Gillon I agree, he’s too good a manipulator not to understand emotional states, he’s just walled off his need to care about them. Which makes the whole Menace thing much more viable. Gotham I know a pair of mice that might have one or two ideas Weatherheight So what are we going to do tonight…? StClair Carving away pieces of yourself – even if you consider them to be “useless”, “hindering”, “more trouble than they’re worth”, etc etc – is a questionable and very risky practice even for a trained surgeon. Which Patrick clearly is not. Gotham Also he was like five. The barriers are coming down, but the thing I find most interesting is that Anima is all the way against the idea. Tylikcat Mm. I would have guessed seven at the youngest, and likely some years older. Look at the scene of him eating with his parents – http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-7/page-64-4/ – his height, posture and syntax look like those of a substantially older child. Soqoma I’d say ten or eleven–no older than thirteen– at the point of the bridge jump. About seven for our “guide.” AdamBombTV The littlest hobo… The littlest psychotic hobo. Weatherheight Tiny little murder hobo, walking through the trees I think that I must hope that you’re not looking ’round for me Damaged frightened murder hobo, treading through the woods I must admit that I suspect you’re up to nothing good. Youthful, boyish murder hobo, traipsing through the thicket Are you brandishing a knife to find a place to stick it? Shattered broken murder hobo, I’d like to understand I’ll walk with you and talk with you, if you’d just hold my hand. Twisted tortured murder hobo, fleeing from your mum Can it be that you like me? Or am I being Dumb…? Telepathic murder hobo, can we leave your mind? I’ve seen enough, I’d like to leave (if you’d be so kind). Alison, my closest friend, I’ll help you to egress. And if you see vast piles of dead? My dear, don’t be distressed. tygertyger That was both beautiful and profoundly disturbing (kinda like my ex, but that’s a tale for another time). Weatherheight Thank you – that’s what I was going for. 😀 Kind of stole the meter from a piece of doggerel from an old RPG called Fringeworthy™. mushy mellor, funny fellor; running midst the trees, whose there? I said, as I stood on my head, but no one answered me off I ran as anyone can to find the mushy mellor past bee and tree I sought to see and tame that funny fellor at last I found the roaring sound a wild meller makes but never grave did I behave because that fellor fakes forever tame he now remains for everyone to see the musher mellor, funny fellor running midst the trees to soar through the air to sigh in despair to see what was there we flee we fly we flew mushy mellor funny fellor running midst the trees who’s there I said as I stood on my head but silence answered me they flee they fly they flew the planets that rippled the suns that blew the portals that darkened the mellors that slew none see some die too few saysomethingclever well done. Weatherheight thank you rthomas2 This is maybe the most concentrated amount and depth of insight I’ve seen packed into any page of comics. Bravo, folks; and thank you. Weatherheight So Claudia is not yet dead in this flashback (“Patrick buys time with a flashback!”), so who ever had the idea that Claudia’s the Conspiracy… You may be on to something! Steele Especially since Patrick has her “blocked” in his mind, AND she probably knew enough about his powers to shield herself and others from them, it would explain why Patrick hasn’t been able to find “them”. I’m reminded of an old Batman story where an unknown villain has been sabotaging him: Blowing up the batmobile, erasing the Bat-computer, setting traps in the cave, etc. But he has NO IDEA who could be doing this. The turning point comes when Batman asks for Commissioner Gordon’s help, to which Gordon basically replies “bullshit you can’t figure this out, you’re too good of a detective to not do so. You just don’t WANT to know.” Bats realizes the wisdom of this and finds out it was his Bruce Wayne alter-ego. He was setting the traps himself and then forgetting about it, because he wanted to kill the Batman for basically taking away his life. So, Patrick may have a similar thing going on here. Tylikcat So, the theory would go, Claudia went on to make things of herself in the meantime. And she already had the nucleus of a network of dubious physicians / researchers interested in the paranormal and without much in the way of ethics. And she was predisposed to see biodynamic kids as a threat? I hate to imagine her as that effective, but that’s just my own bias. It does kind of work. …and there’s an interesting set up for a big showdown between her mother and Max’s mother. Particularly amusing, since the likely already know each other. Gotham It would be pretty weird that Patrick crossing her off her list of potential culprits wasn’t his very first move, though. And if he did indeed, how much would he have told Alison? Tylikcat It depends a bit on just how thoroughly information behind barriers is blocked out, isn’t it? I mean, his mother seems pretty central to what he’s blocking. Weatherheight What Tylikat said. I’ve met people who have so thoroughly blocked out another person in their life that they were incapable of seeing any intersection/interaction with that person, even when it ws happening right in front of their faces. H*ck, I’ve done it from time to time (much to my shame, regret, and embarrassment). Also, it’s possible that this is the portion of the narrative where the reader is “read in” on a plot point that is yet hidden to the characters, laying the groundwork for the reveal later on. Or not. 😀 Brennan and Molly have shown a pretty decent ability at very subtle foreshadowing up to this point. I can’t say this is The Story™, but half the fun of this comic for me is looking at everything and seeing the incredibly wide range of possibilities for the story to go. Even the wildly implausible things some folks bring out are nevertheless fascinating to me. Must be GM thing… AustinC123 Hold on I think Pat might be fooling HIMSELF in certain ways but NOT OUR HERO INTENTIONALLY and the comment section has gotten to be such a cynical bummer lately, y’all. R Lex Eaton Total agreement here. It’s kinda tragic, given this comic’s ethos. Charlie Spoken like someone who has never been hurt by a manipulative sociopath. If I were in Alison’s shoes, I would be listening to Patrick with an open mind, yet retain a healthy skepticism, not allowing emotional reaction to overtake my sense of good judgment. Patrick is the sort of person with whom you want to see third-party proof of what they say before accepting it as fact. I would say this about him even if his mind were not so broken by the effects of his biodynamicism. If you’ve been hurt by these kinds of people enough, you can spot them a mile away. In my experience, most pathological liars lie because they want other people to think highly of them, to think that they are interesting, charming, competent/skilled, intelligent, and to sympathize with them. They desperately need to be liked. And they think that nobody will like them if they don’t lie about themselves to sound like someone who is worthy of being liked. Patrick walled off his need to be loved, so he became Menace because he genuinely DGAF. But Alison put a crack in that wall while they were watching cartoons. His speech to her in that penthouse apartment was evidence of how that wall had started crumbling – he made up a bunch of bullshit to try to impress her, and it failed miserably. So it is not unreasonable to think that he may be back at his old tactics, trying to gain her sympathy by explaining his troubled childhood. Now, it is entirely possible that all these things actually did happen, perhaps with only slight embellishment. But as others have pointed out, the *way* that he is showing all this to Alison is a classic manipulative tactic to garner her sympathy. And once you have someone’s sympathy, you can control them like a puppet. AustinC123 And in MY experience, you are bumming me out! This comment section has become a race to the bottom in terms of ‘my opinion is legitimate to the extent that I have been badly hurt in my life.’ I’m just reading the comic as written, my friend, I’m judging it based on WHAT IS ON THE PAGE, not the farthest potential depths of human depravity and the wounds it can leave! REGARDLESS of my experience with trauma (which, it should be obvious, YOU DO NOT KNOW and IT’S KIND OF WEIRD FOR YOU TO SPECULATE ON BASED ON MY COMMENT ON A WEB COMIC) this is the reading I have reached and the fact that you have experience with sociopaths (which as I understand this badly-defined psychological term Patrick literally cannot be, as he is constantly and involuntarily aware of the emotional interiority of others) doesn’t give you a privileged position from which to read this web comic! PLEASE, if you would like to disagree with me, leave out the ‘you cannot be correct because I was hurt in the past.’ It is sad and I am sorry you were hurt but it is not germane. AustinC123 I should clarify. If someone is responding to a point about how the world works with a counterpoint from their own life (that is, ‘people never do that!’ ‘well, actually, a similar thing happened to me’) then that is, of course, fine. That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean people saying ‘this is what it looks like is happening to me’ and being met with ‘how could you be so naive? have you not stared long into the rotting underbelly of the human soul? allow me to sketch a brief tour thereof.’ 3-I Speaking as someone who has been hurt in the past by manipulative sociopaths, I REALLY appreciate the fact that you are saying this. This comment section has gotten really weirdly toxic and difficult to read. AustinC123 Thank you for saying so, I appreciate it. Debbie Jackson I’ve been reading the above thread fairly thoroughly and wondering whether any of this applies to me, or posts that I’ve written. I still can’t actually tell. Just wanted therefore to step in and clarify my position from earlier in case I was one of the people coming across as shutting other trains of thought down. My intent (in using real-world and researched examples to add possible context to the story we’re reading together) is that we all continue to remember and respect that the world is larger than any one of our experiences seperately, and all gain by sharing those understandings we are more intimately aware of with one another, so everyone ends up with something new to chew on as well as having had a fair say. This is different IMHO from invalidating someone’s best guess about the story or differing experience in real life because it doesn’t match one’s own. Everyone’s experience is valid and adds more depth to the conversation when shared. I do think it reasonable however to point out when people are patently incorrect, being directly offensive, and using outdated or inaccurate terminology. I called out Izo for insisting that “only sociopaths could abuse animals or children as shown” due to the dual toxicity of that stance both negating non-sociopathic abuse and condemning everyone with the disorder by association as a likely abuser. (Not to mention taking the fake pulp-fiction version of the term and trying to justify it as gospel truth in reality.) I’m not trying to say that “sociopaths cannot be manipulative or abusive” – far from it – or that the condition doesn’t make certain types of abuse easier to fall into. But there’s something to be said for pointing out the imbalance in a discussion when it veers close to harmful territory on either side – that is, trying to keep the discussion open to nuance rather than slipping into false stereotyping. There are a few people here who’ve had to repeatedly stand against others making blanketed and generalised statements, that some types of person are basically automatic abusers, or else that harm and abuse are rare or non-existent (both of which are, sadly, provably untrue). And yeah, I’ve seen a few swing too far in the other direction while doing so. I’ve been trying to hold a balance personally but it’s not the easiest thing in the world. I do sympathise with these posters because it’s extremely unpleasant to come to a discussion board like SFP and see your own encounters sidelined by people who simply haven’t come across such things as often (or at least aren’t as practiced in noticing the warning signs of these). This is compounded by how frequently such abuse goes unspoken and hidden in real life so it’s very easy to get frustrated into fiercely fighting a corner, even against those who were contributing pleasantly. I don’t think many people here are claiming privilege above others in the discussion so much as trying to ensure their own protection. That said, it’s still not okay to accidentally stamp on others through excessive self-defence. I don’t believe that anyone else is incorrect due to having different experiences of the world. Very often the people who most loudly refute others’ experience are the ones with least direct experience themselves. We shouldn’t be stamping down on anyone’s personal account, whether or not it seems rare or anecdotal. But there’s something to be gained in listening to the mass of personal accounts that have been shared so far – even if that is only an awareness that the problem may be greater than some of us knew. Fairportfan The classic “unreliable narrator”. MoonicaMusing I think we’ve been very conditioned in storytelling to expect the unreliable narrator. Dave M Yep, destroy the barrier, raze the city, merge the various Patricks together and let him consciously acknowledge, grieve, and be angry about what happened. Looking like the only sane answer. Given this reveal, the almost friendship he has with Alison is surprising in itself, and could be a sign that he is considering this. Of course, telling the voices in your head they are no longer needed is never an easy thing. They don’t tend to take it well. One last comment, this really feeds into Alison’s “The people who were supposed to look after me, did so. The people who were supposed to look after you, didn’t” fears. I still think there’s more than a chance Alison is being shown the truth, but in a way to manipulate her responses and actions. Tylikcat Destroying the barriers is one thing, and doing so – ideally over time so he has a chance to deal with the impact of the memories, because this can fuck up your life for a while* – is likely necessary. Merging the Patricks… eh, maybe? (This is where being a neurobiologist rather than a psychologist might change my perspective – I don’t know what the current opinion is in psych, but the idea of a single leading consciousness is fairly illusory in the first place, so I have trouble getting that het up about it. Find something that works, get on with life, whatevs.) Raze the city? Um, why? You do get that the city is how he organizes all the thoughts and memories he has to deal with? And he’s still going to need that no matter what’s going on with his personality and memory integration? This is his mind. He’s going to need to live there. Burnt earth isn’t really the way to go. * Ahaha, but this is a comic, and while one can handle these things in a non-therapeutic environment is one isn’t available, I don’t see it fitting into the current narrative style? GreatWyrmGold Yep, destroy the barrier, raze the city, merge the various Patricks together and let him consciously acknowledge, grieve, and be angry about what happened. Looking like the only sane answer. Yup, completely shatter Patrick’s psyche and say “job well done”. Destroy the old regime, I’m sure that something better will come out of the remains. Who do you think you are, George W. Bush? Weatherheight During the first season of Heroes, one of the main characters was a telekinetic with Dissociative Identity disorder (what they are now calling Multiple Personality disorder, apparently) by the name of Niki Saunders and her alter ego of Jessica (played by Ali Larter). They actually handled it reasonably well and followed diagnostic and therapeutic procedures with some degree of accuracy (hyper-accelerated over time, mind you, but…). Unfortunately, the character was taking too much time to develop and had some real problems for most people. “Whiny” was the first complaint (mental illness is usually pretty hard, yo – reality sucks). Folks had a hard time getting what her powers were (telekinetic heading towards Superman template), and the plot of “let’s use therapeutic drugs to deal with her condition, which functionally turns off her powers, too” didn’t sit well with some folks. I for one would have liked to see more of her counseling sessions and maybe meet a few “folks” while still on the drugs and then weaning her off them while integrating the personalities, but I’m odd that way. It would have made a great plot twist late in the show – have a villain take out a bunch of heroes, have Niki show up out of the blue late in a fight and wipe the floor with someone – and then go, “I couldn’t let you guys die or this jerk win. You wanna thank me? Leave me out of this crap in the future. Just leave me the hell alone.” and then she walks off. Intentionally and carefully unbuilding the walls works – crashing them usually just makes the problem worse. If he is truly someone with Dissociative Identity disorder, you kind of have to get at least two of those “people” talking to each other and finding a way to both accommodate and validate each other, to not be so terrified of each other and encourage unity. All that said, I suspect you’re on the right track here. Danygalw “Dissociative Identity disorder (what they are now calling Multiple Personality disorder, apparently) ” Other way around, MPD is the outdated term. Weatherheight Didn’t phrase that well, did I? Pretty ambiguous. I trained in the 80’s, when MPD had replaced… Split personality disorder, I think, so I knee-jerk to MPD. Excellent clarification. What you said is what I meant, but my phrasing was horribly unclear. Goatmon Correction: *convinced himself* that he got rid of his need for love. Tylikcat Mm. Walled it away, which is not even close to the same thing. Zorae42 Oh Patrick, that’s so inefficient. You shouldn’t have cut yourself off from all love. Just the need for her love. It would still sting, but you’d be much more whole and still able to function. Since it’s her toxicity that was dragging you down. Eric Meyer As a child of that age, there is little difference between “All Love” and “Mother’s Love”. Tylikcat Do we have an estimated age for him? Because, seriously, I was just having this conversation with my sister, and in my experience, the distinction can be made. (Though I think my sister would argue for a high degree of fuckwittedness as a result. Also, OMG, she is not allowed to read this comic, and especially the comments section. She would be laughing her ass off.) (Though having given copies of The Witch Boy to a few of my adopted nieces and nephews, I now have visions of the eldest of them ending up here… which is actually daunting, as opposed to my sister, who spends a lot of time laughing at me anyway.) Elaine Lee That’s what sisters are for. One of my sisters was a professional stand-up. When she laughed at you, you’d been laughed at by a pro! Tylikcat It is, indeed, an important part of our relationship! (My sister is an aerialist an aerials instructor… and personal trainer and pilates teacher, so, um… the professional honors kind of work out differently. Of course, during my recent trip out west she introduced me to the joys of watching Beastmaster, and I think I finally understand what some people love about sportsball. We yelled at the screen, and all the menfolk hid. It was glorious.) OptimisticCentrist To me, he looks about ten during the scenes where he was wearing the cable sweater (the family supper, the car ride and falling into the river) and about thirteen in the last panel. For earlier pages, I would say he was five when he hit the other boy with the toy truck and somewhere between six and eight for the psychologist and Skip’s death. ChildPatrick also mostly looks somewhere between six and eight although his height relative to Alison varies a bit so I think his age does too. Eric Lohmeier COMPARTMENTALIZATION! Fun, emotional suppression for the whole family! R Lex Eaton Not only that, but the Barrier is enabling straight-up dissociation. R Lex Eaton It looks like your evil plan to save the world is buffering due to childhood trauma. Would you like help with that? Press [F] to uninstall Empathy.exe now. GreatWyrmGold Which, coincidentally, is also how you pay your respects to it. Though I guess a lack of empathy would make that trickier… R Lex Eaton Iunno. Methinks none of the mental Patricks know what torrent sites have the Empty Sex and Tequila drivers. 😛 aseariel I’m sure that he can fix it one he figures out the physics. Zechariah Val Judy Ah, so that’s why the “finest memory in the Hall” was tinged with Component. His need for love was bleeding through. Soqoma tell me why THIS is the comment that tugged at my heartstrings? Anyway, yes. I agree JohnTomato “I’ve built walls A fortress deep and mighty That none may penetrate I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain I am a rock I am an island” He doesn’t look like Paul Simon. zellgato That barrier is super fake you know that right Patrick? The meental filtering is real the emotioanl component is not. Not remotely given everythign I know of you. buut. i have good news… Everyone fools themselves in that way when hurt.. you’re just like everyone else. Gotham It’s all clear now. The Patrick who knocked on Alison’s door this morning is this one panel(?) 3, pre-actually meeting her as Menace for the chronological first time from her perspective. Time travel shenanigans ahoy! ruvmu My theory’s been that Component is just emotion. Emotional bias can obscure “pure logic” very easily, and is put into a memory involuntarily. It would also explain why the best memory they had was “infected” with it, because it’s the first time Patrick’s had a strong emotional reaction to an experience in a very long time. If the barrier blocks out things like “the need for love” which is an emotional desire, then I’m pretty much certain that’s the case. Because of that, Anima may end up being the bad guy if Menace is defeated and she wants to rule Pat’s mind without emotion, seeing how she thinks about component and emotional memories, and the Kid or the Record Keeper might end up being the ones to have to save the day from her. And then hopefully fix pat’s mind without trying to destroy a part of it… Danygalw agree fiah0n So… when Allison broke up with Patric she broke through this old barrier. And now he can’t bring himself to function as long as he feels worthless and unloved. No wonder Menace wants to eliminate her. David Gillon Alison needs to be paying more attention to what Child!Patrick is saying. He deliberately made himself the unemotional, unempathic robot people believe those with autism to be (the reality is actually the reverse, the most empathic people I known have ASD diagnoses). That means Patrick as Menace lacked the ability to empathise with his victims. He may even have impaired his ability to form Mens Rea*, though I suspect he was more likely to understand the difference between right and wrong in a technical sense without understanding it in an empathic manner. What did Alison do to make him break her barriers when he outed himself to her? And did she break it more when she made him watch cartoons. https://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/841/ * I didn’t expact the Mens Rea discussion to become directly relevant to the storyline. Tylikcat Walling off the need for love is not equivalent to either lack of empathy, or lack of emotion. I mean, sure, that could be how it manifested in his case, but I doubt it? (I’m thinking of his comments about sexual partners, for instance.) OptimisticCentrist I bet Patrick never had any sexual partners because he was too scared to form any kind of intimate relationship. There’s something about, “The men, women, et cetera, that I’ve taken to bed with me have been nothing short of enthusiastic,” that sounds suspiciously like the kind of thing someone who is still a virgin but doesn’t want to admit it would say. It’s also sounds more in character for the kind of smooth talking master manipulator Alison used to think he was than for the awkward, broken person he turns out to really be. Did he pull that claim straight out of her imagination? I’m sure he has loads of second-hand sexual experiences of all flavors, but I can’t see someone who literally walled away his need for love just before he hit puberty ever having had a girl or boyfriend. Tylikcat Sex and love are so very much not the same thing. I can illustrate this with pretty much as many examples as either of us can stomach from my own teenage years if you’d like. (Stomach on my part not because they’re particularly awful or because I’m ashamed of them, but because writing about them at length doesn’t really seem right for this forum.) And hey, even my sister I’m pretty sure will concede that I hadn’t suppressed my need for love, I was just ruthlessly pragmatic (which did pretty much rule out needing to be loved by our parents). And while with all the nice endorphins there might be a tendency to take the afterglow for intimacy (I won’t even say mistake – the one can pretty easily lead to another), Patrick, having suppressed his need for love, is less likely to do so, I would think. And… why would he be a virgin? I mean, consider what we know about his life. He’s certainly had opportunities. It’s not *that* hard to find amenable partners if you’re looking for a friendly roll in the hay. (I don’t know if Patrick would have the same reaction, I find sleeping with people who are way more into me than I am into them depressing and isolating, but hey, not so much on the mental surgery over here.) David Gillon Umemotional is going too far, in fact it could well be anger that drove that decision. I’m not so sure I went too far with unempathic* – I think it could spin out of blocking out love – but the jury is still out. * I’d distinguish between stopping yourself empathising with people, and stopping being able to recognise emotional states. I think the latter is within the bounds of his two line description, the second doesn’t seem to be reasonably possible once you’ve learnt to do it. Tylikcat It could be unempathetic but able to perceive emotions (though I think in that case he wouldn’t experience the sexual limitations he’s expressed). I just don’t think from the information we have so far it must be so. I don’t know if I really have an opinion over what is the most probable explanation – I have a lot of experience in suppressing vulnerabilities, but hey, I didn’t turn into a supervillain either (or did I)? That he became Menace is the most interesting point… but I think it would be oversimplifying to assume he wouldn’t have become Menace if he was able to empathize. Many people do all kinds of horrible things, and can empathize just fine… just not with everyone. I’d actually say, that’s most people. It’s possible that to a messed up teenage telepath who was looking at his own people being oppressed and murdered (I don’t know when he became aware of the last, but let’s go with it) becoming Menace seemed like a perfectly reasonable reaction. It’s easy to feel like the whole world is against you when you’re fourteen.* Patrick had way more reason than most. I’m kind of weary of all the analyses that seem to imply that no one would ever do horrible shit unless their sense of empathy was seriously impaired – seriously, I think most bad shit is done by people without any such impairment. * That’s one I really didn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to pull off half the shit I did without my communities. David Gillon “but hey, I didn’t turn into a supervillain either (or did I)?” The vote is still being tallied, but the exit polls look good for not a supervillain 😉 ” I think it would be oversimplifying to assume he wouldn’t have become Menace if he was able to empathize. Many people do all kinds of horrible things, and can empathize just fine…” Good point, and true. “It’s possible that to a messed up teenage telepath who was looking at his own people being oppressed and murdered … becoming Menace seemed like a perfectly reasonable reaction.” Especially having narrowly escaped the same. This chapter is throwing a whole bucketful of additional motivations into Patrick becoming Menace. Tylikcat Well, we’ll see about the supervillain thing – the way this administration is going, the army of giant robot slugs is starting to look pretty good, y’know? (Though I think the point from panel #4 might save me… http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd040609s.gif ) (Also, I’m not sure how “super” would be my villainy. Goals!) Of course, I don’t know how much more of this story we’re going to get – maybe this gets us back to the archive, maybe we see a bit of Menace: Secret Origin Story. There’s kind of an implication here that he had a plan before he knew of the existence of other biodynamics? (I am so glad I am in my forties, which sets me at a distance from all the characters in these comics. But to the extent it applies, I’d so much rather identify with Lisa, wonderful mad engineer storyteller Lisa… but damn, Patrick reminds me so painfully of what it was like to be a fucked up teenager.) GreatWyrmGold That sounds…healthy… Nightsbridge Hmmm. When Menace heard that Allison had come to the City, he was like . . . ‘Allison Green . . . Ever since she came, things here have been falling apart and the barriers have been crumbling down.’ Perhaps that’s it. The need for love, not necessarily romantic love, assailed Patrick once he was once more in a safe place to feel it. And he’s crashing now because he had it, and now the need he thought he’d sealed away is scratching its way back into his head, because he knew Allison was willing and ready to give it, and even after she left he was faced with the mess this process had made of him. Menace doesn’t seem to care about Anima. Her escape was no news at all to him. He didn’t care. He hates Allison, because Allison represents the death of the dead-stasis in this city which Menace and, in her own way, Anima both hold supreme. Soqoma let me just say that I love the complexity Patrick’s character–the way his power shaped his personality and his mind, the opacity of his motivations, the moments of vulnerability or camaraderie that keep us emotionally implicated in the mystery who he ultimately turns out to be….It is so exciting to get all this page time with him and the maze of his brain. It really, really is. so much so that I nearly forgot: WHAT THE F WAS GUWARA DOING THERE!? palmvos as an agent of The Duck, Guwara was adjusting reality. editing the conspiracy memories was just a cover for the real mission. R Lex Eaton Curse that duck! Why didn’t we listen to Alan Moore when we had the chance?! https://youtu.be/cFK2Xq2RyiU Cori J. Hmmmmm https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ec51a285fe0942a16eab065d8cc1896b018bb7d69f635a87b213ec8bed9bf1aa.png Weatherheight Hmm indeed. Nice eye. Danygalw what happened to his nose Cori J. Puberty! And even after bone growth stops, cartilage continues growing throughout adulthood. It’s why old men have big ears and noses. 🙂 Fairportfan RFecipe for a paranoid supervillain… OptimisticCentrist Somehow, I don’t think Alison’s first reaction when she wakes up is going to be, “Now that I’ve got the information on the Conspiracy I went in for, get out of my apartment and my life.” David Gillon Hmm, thinking about the overall arc of this chapter, are we in a yellow brick road scenario? Dorothy/Alison is encountering a series of characters (who happen to all be aspects of Patrick), each one overly focused on one aspect of their personality, each moving her onwards, and inevitably this is going to end with Dorothy/Alison meeting the Wizard/Menace. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Jshadow So basically the reason Patrick became a villian is mommy issues? Weatherheight Sigmund would be sooo pleased… Hermitage Chibi Patrick is totally taking Allison straight into Menace’s stronghold on the other side of the wall, isn’t he? Darkoneko Hellsing “And then you appeared” Flesh Forge Cankles.