v0.31:Insanity

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This article is about an older version of DF.

Insanity describes any of the conditions that cause a dwarf or other creature to immediately stop what they were doing and go mad. Dwarves that are insane are unable to sleep, eat, drink, follow orders or perform any job. Insanity is permanent, and comes in three flavors: "Melancholy," "Stark Raving Mad," and "Berserk." Each of these will inevitably end with the death of the afflicted dwarf. Tantruming may be a sign that the certain dwarf may go insane unless something makes the dwarf happy.

Traveling merchants and their pack animals can also go insane. If this happens, the accompanying guard/s will KILL the merchant and/or his animals. If this rare case does happen, the merchant's goods will be free for you to take.

Cilob Nisgakdeler, Merchant has gone berserk!
Horse is stricken by melancholy!


Children (even babies) may become insane. This, in a smaller fortress without a military will usually lead to much Fun.

[edit] Causes

Certain events/conditions can drive a creature to madness. It is impossible to force insanity, but not to foster its growth.

  • Entering a strange mood but failing to complete a legendary artifact in an appropriate amount of time (this will always cause insanity).
  • Being very unhappy or miserable for a long time. Unlike a failed mood, this is not a guaranteed insanity, and dwarves can remain unhappy for many months without snapping.

[edit] Types

There are three known types of insanity, but a dwarf may only be afflicted by one at a time (one is enough). The personality of the dwarf influences the type of insanity.

  • Stark raving mad
<dwarf> has gone stark raving mad!
Running around babbling!
Crawling around babbling!
The afflicted will strip naked and drop each of their items one by one. They will then wander your halls aimlessly (or sometimes stick to their room), babbling incoherently until they eventually die of dehydration or starvation. They do not actively seek out their own deaths, but death does a pretty good job at finding them anyway, as they ignore any and all hazards they encounter while milling about.
Dwarves with high anxiety are more likely to go stark raving mad.
  • Melancholy
<dwarf> is stricken by melancholy!
Stricken by melancholy...
The afflicted is overcome by depression and will seek out ways to end their life, considerably slowing their movement in the process. If they cannot find a cliff to jump off of or water/magma to drown/burn up in, they will simply starve themselves to death. Be warned that a melancholy mother may take her baby's life with her own if she still carries it.
Dwarves with high depression are more likely to be stricken by melancholy.
  • Berserk
<dwarf> has gone berserk!
In a berserk rage!
The afflicted attacks friend and foe alike in a blind rage. This can be dangerous if it happens to an experienced dwarf (especially one carrying an artifact weapon). Luckily, war dogs can quickly bring down an unskilled dwarf.
Berserk dwarves have also been reported to pull every lever they can find. This may be a mere annoyance or very fun, depending on your fortress' design.
The dwarf in question becomes an enemy to your civilization, meaning it will set off traps and engage your military.
Dwarves with high anger are more likely to go berserk.

[edit] Treatments for Insanity

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As stated, there is no cure for a dwarf who has fallen into one of the aforementioned forms of madness. Preventative measures may be considered, since a dwarf may show certain signs of psychological illness before it has fully taken hold. Luckily, recent advancements in health care have led to an exciting new field of medicine specifically meant to improve the overall mental welfare of the sanity impaired. As with all experimental treatments, efficacy and safety are not guaranteed, but early applications of the listed techniques have yielded promising results.

  • The Amontillado Treatment
    Initial research indicates that psychotic dwarves may benefit from extended periods of isolation, during which they may turn inward and away from their ecstasy. Therefore, if the patient has entered their room, locking them inside might be the best thing to do. If the patient is catatonic, or remaining stationary for a long period, then erecting a wall around them is recommended. Remember to open the door or bring the wall down before the patient succumbs to thirst or starvation. Alternatively, food and drink (and other items) may be dropped into the room through a delivery system of some sort, but remember that isolation must remain total if full effectiveness is to be achieved.
  • The Colosseum Procedure
    Be wary of dwarves who have recently commandeered workshops. It is a serious sign if the patient is screaming for products that cannot be provided (especially if stockpile records are up-to-date and publicly available). In cases such as these, the best treatment is to ensure they cannot escape the workshop in the event they turn violent. That way, they may be safely relocated to a segregated area where they can work off their aggression harmlessly on the fortress walls. Be certain to keep them away from animals, prisoners, and other patients! Once the patient has calmed down, they can be brought out and returned to their lives.
  • Animal Therapy
    Breakout cases such as above can sometimes be prevented by giving the patient some new pets to take care of. For reasons uncertain, war dogs appear to have the greatest effect (although this may be a matter of availability; researchers have achieved results with bears, tigers, and even cows). If the patient should break at some point, the presence of these animals may be enough to tranquilize the patient.
  • Group Sessions
    It's somewhat common for soldiers to show signs of imminent madness, due to the hardships of life as a warrior. A widely endorsed suggestion is to surround the patient with their comrades-in-arms, who might provide cheer and a reminder of both duty and the support of friends. And, should the patient turn violent, they will most likely be subdued with minimal injury (to civilians).
  • Aquatic Cognizance
    Every one knows that water helps with aches in joints, what most people don't realize is that in terms of dwarven anatomy, the brain is a joint, thus having a dwarf swim until they recover may help, even more so if their brain is exposed so that the soothing water can affect the joint better.
  • The Winchester Method
    In many cases, madness has its roots in a deep feeling of powerlessness experienced by the patient during his schizophrenic delirium, with cases of patients hearing voices of Carps, Elephants and strange stories about boats being murdered. Recent studies show that by safely giving the unfortunate patient the occasion to act on his own initiative and make him feel the consequences of his actions, dementia can be avoided.
  • Stasis
    Sometimes, the patients simply need time to think about their life. A good way of giving them all a long while to think (experts agree) that putting patients into cryo-stasis or encasing them in carbonite is the best way to combat rage, social rejection and other mental issues.

Any new developments or experimental procedures should be reported to the Mountainhomes immediately for verification and cataloging. If even a single dwarf is spared the indignity of madness in this way, it will be worth it.

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