Isolation

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ISOLATION STRESS

Isolation is a subtle danger: it corrodes your sanity by denying you input. You rely on other human beings for feedback. Without the opinions of others, you do not know how to judge yourself. When you become resistant to isolation, you overlook social standards and unwritten rules because you’ve forgotten how to conform to the expectations of others. If you’ve suffered from isolation, you become very needy. These are not mutually exclusive: it’s possible to be very clingy and still be unable to pick up hints about when your behavior is unacceptable.

SAMPLE ISOLATION CHECKS

Rank Example
1–2 Spend a day without seeing anyone you know.
2–3 Spend five hours in a sensory-deprivation tank.
2–4 Spend five days without talking to another human being.
3–5 Be institutionalized against your will by someone you love and trust.
4–6 Spend a week in solitary confinement.
5–7 See someone you thought you knew intimately behaving in a fashion completely contrary to her normal behavior.
6–8 Spend a month in a country where no one speaks your language and where you can’t make yourself understood no matter how hard you try.
8–9 Be deeply, painfully, and violently betrayed by someone you love.
9–10 Be treated like a stranger by your closest friends for a week or more.
9–10 Spend a month in a sensory-deprivation tank.

HARDENED ISOLATION NOTCHES

Notch Example
1–3 There are no really obvious signs of your experiences. Perhaps you’re a little standoffish or curt.
4–5 You can be unthinkingly rude, breaking in during the middle of a conversation before someone’s done speaking, scratching yourself in an indelicate fashion, or telling the truth when it isn’t diplomatic to do so. For example, you might blurt out “Damn that’s an ugly haircut!” instead of saying “Wow, that’s a new look for you, isn’t it?”
6–7 You lack patience with people who don’t immediately understand what you’re trying to tell them. Your natural inclination is to repeat the same explanations, which are obvious to you, over and over. Or just give up. You can, of course, overcome this first instinct if you pay extra attention. In game terms, this means that your Connect or Lie abilities aren’t penalized any time you make a roll, but you might have a little bit of trouble in casual situations.
8 Unless you’re concentrating, you lack dialogue skills. You don’t like it when people interrupt, but you frequently interrupt others. You also don’t see the point of a lot of social conventions such as clothing, grooming, etc. You might still shave every day, but it all seems a little silly.
9 At some level, you not only don’t care what people think about you: you can’t understand how anyone could care. You are very aware that people are inherently alone, that we can never really understand anyone or communicate anything but the most rudimentary ideas and feelings. You know everyone is an island, in the final analysis. Especially you.

FAILED ISOLATION NOTCHES

Notch Example
1 You can interact in society and get through your everyday life with no real problems. You’re maybe a little reserved with people at first, but you feel a kind of gratitude whenever a new acquaintance doesn’t reject you.
2 You’re a bit nervous around new people, eager to make a good impression. This could be expressed as shyness or through chatterbox behaviors.
3 If you sleep alone, you sometimes suffer from insomnia. Perhaps you don’t like silence when you’re by yourself, and always keep a television on or a radio playing. Sometimes, when you’re not paying attention, you talk to yourself or think out loud.
4 Sometimes when you’re isolated, either all by yourself or surrounded by strangers, you have panic attacks — a sense of intangible, impending doom. Your skin flushes, your breath becomes rapid and labored, you sweat. Simply put, you show the signs of being in mortal danger, when there is no danger around.
5 You are insane. Your personal disjunction from human contact has made you unable to easily and casually move through society. It might be a phobia, an obsession or an addiction that you use to mediate between yourself and others, but it’s something untenable in the long term.
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Isolation

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