Self

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SELF STRESS

This is the trickiest one. It’s your guilt and self-loathing, but it’s more than that. It’s conflicts between what you believe, and it’s damage to your ability to believe at all. A major stress is when you find out you’re not the person you thought you were, by breaking a promise you honestly meant to keep, or by standing idly by when your values, or what you thought were your values, are desecrated. It’s your sense of alienation from yourself that provides, perhaps, the deepest terror. If you can’t trust yourself, then nothing is true. That’s why people with heavy damage to Self are such good liars and bad students: they really can’t care what’s true or false anymore. Where other meters measure how traumatized you are by things that happen to you, Self measures how traumatized you are by your own reactions to those things. To put it another way, the only thing you can ever be 100% sure of is “I think, therefore I am.” The Self meter measures how uncertain you are about the “I” in that statement.

SAMPLE SELF CHECKS

Rank Example
1–2 Break a minor promise.
2–4 Be confronted with proof that your self-image is incorrect. “I’m very responsible; I’m sure I’ve called you back every time I said I would.” “Actually, you’ve blown me off so many times I started keeping track in my journal. Lessee, November 19, December 3… again on December 17… January 9…”
2–4 Secretly gratify an urge that is unacceptable to your upbringing and background. Spit on a cross if Christian, date a person of another race if raised by bigots, have a same-sex affair if you come from a homophobic background, etc.
3–5 Lie to conceal some aspect of your personality from a close friend or loved one who trusts you implicitly.
4–6 Decide not to act on an impulse from your noble passion because it’s too dangerous.
5–7 Deliberately deceive someone you love in a way that is certain to cause them terrible pain if they find out.
6–7 Discover that you have inadvertently committed an act of cannibalism.
7–10 Deliberately act completely contrary to your noble passion.
9–10 Kill someone you love.
9–10 Deliberately destroy everything you’ve risked your life to support.

HARDENED SELF NOTCHES

Notch Example
1–3 There are few external signs of your interior struggle; people may sometimes find you to be a little brittle or phony.
4–5 Even when you’re telling the truth, people often think you’re lying, unless you make a particular effort to act natural.
6–7 You’ve lost a sense of connection to those who were previously close to you. You can predict the actions of your friends, relatives, or lovers, but you no longer know exactly what you feel about them.
8 Half the time, you only know you’re telling the truth if you take a minute to think about it. Truth and lies aren’t nearly as important as they used to be — back before you quit lying to yourself…
9 Life has been pared down to the essentials for you; you no longer have opinions about music, food, or fashion. You’ve lost the ability to enjoy or dislike things, because there’s so little “you” there to interact.

h4.FAILED SELF NOTCHES

Notch Example
1 You don’t have any real uncertainty yet, but every now and again you feel a sense of dissociation, an eerie moment when you feel alienated from your own character and motivations. “Sure, I know I’m Greg Stolze,” you might think, “But who’s Greg Stolze?”
2 The “Who am I?” moments come more frequently. You tend to become introspective whenever someone mentions truth or lies or promises.
3 Half the time your words and actions feel oddly forced, fake, or rehearsed to you — as if, rather than yourself, you were an actor playing the role of you.
4 You frequently feel like you’re watching your every action from the outside. You have little or no sense of will or volition; it’s as if you’re a passive observer, along for the ride while your body goes through the motions.
5 You are insane. The disconnect between your own narrative of who you are, and the actions you take in the world, has split and broken. You might patch it together with delusions, often false memories in which your behavior was less shameful. Or you could narcotize it with an addiction, or simply sink into a fugue state when the stress gets too much.
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Self

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