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Old Jun 8 2009, 12:11 AM   #1
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Default Brekke and Re-Impression

Pardon me if this has been posted before, but I must ask: Why, precisely, is it 'terribly wrong' for Brekke to re-impress?

My own feelings on her weyrwoman-ship aside, as everyone in the 9th Pass is more than happy with her work, why were they opposed?

F'nor: I imagine he didn't want her to re-impress as it would just re-open the barrel of worms that had her so messed up to begin with.

But what about Lytol and Manora? Was it just that it wouldn't be fair to the other Candidates to have 'proven' competition? Would it be an insult to Wirenth's memory and their relationship? Would it be unfair to Brekke's next dragon, being compared to or just a replacement for her predecessor? Was it a form of oblique punishment for losing her queen, even though it was not explicitly Brekke's fault? Fear that it might make her worse? The fact that she was getting a second chance when most others wouldn't? As you can see, I have many theories on what the precise meaning is, I am just curious as to what Anne was implying, as it seems to go over my head.
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Old Jun 8 2009, 12:51 AM   #2
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Pardon me if this has been posted before, but I must ask: Why, precisely, is it 'terribly wrong' for Brekke to re-impress?

My own feelings on her weyrwoman-ship aside, as everyone in the 9th Pass is more than happy with her work, why were they opposed?

F'nor: I imagine he didn't want her to re-impress as it would just re-open the barrel of worms that had her so messed up to begin with.

But what about Lytol and Manora? Was it just that it wouldn't be fair to the other Candidates to have 'proven' competition? Would it be an insult to Wirenth's memory and their relationship? Would it be unfair to Brekke's next dragon, being compared to or just a replacement for her predecessor? Was it a form of oblique punishment for losing her queen, even though it was not explicitly Brekke's fault? Fear that it might make her worse? The fact that she was getting a second chance when most others wouldn't? As you can see, I have many theories on what the precise meaning is, I am just curious as to what Anne was implying, as it seems to go over my head.
I think the idea is that losing a dragon tears such a hole in the rider's emotional psyche that they cannot be relied upon to be a stable partner to a new dragon.

For one thing, the new dragon would have to deal with the profound grief of the rider and it is doubtful the dragon would have any idea how to do so. The newly hatched dragons' thought process is basically "I love you/feed me/I love you/feed me/I love you/scratch that itchy spot after you feed me/I love you." When the response is anything other than "I love you/You're the most wonderful dragon in the world" the young dragon would be confused at best, especially if the response is "I love you but when I look at you I think of Dragonth I just want to die." Pity poor dragon number two.

Also, there is no guarantee that the rider would not crack up from being emotionally torn between the old dragon and the new dragon.

A rider might also view the new dragon as nothing more than a means of eventually going between to join the old dragon. Again, not exactly fair to the new dragon or good for anyone.

Obviously the experience is profoundly traumatic for most dragonless riders. A few handle it better...but not very many. A large proportion prefer to suicide. None of this suggests it would be a good idea to pair them with another dragon.

Less important is the fairness to other potential candidates, although this would matter more or less to some. More significant might be the age discrepancy between an experienced dragonless rider and a new potential rider: a younger rider will live longer for a young dragon (remember, there is an overwhelming probability their lives will end at the same time--a certainty for the dragon). And we don't know to what age Impression is possible; it might not be an option after a certain point due to some of Kitti Ping's gengineering.
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Old Jun 8 2009, 05:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

Well said, ED. That's my understanding of it as well.

On ages, there's definitely a limited range in which someone is eligible to Impress. While the limits are never specifically set out, from all the examples in the books it seems to be somewhere around 15-25 for queen riders, and 10-20 for others. Brekke is 24 in DQ, and I think it was specifically remarked on as notable that she was still young enough to be a Candidate.
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Old Jun 8 2009, 05:52 AM   #4
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I'll post some thoughts here, but I want to think them through before I do so.
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Old Jun 8 2009, 01:01 PM   #5
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For once I completely agree with ED. I think to re-Impress 1) probably wouldn't work to begin with and 2) would be a very unstable match, which might result in losing Impression and the dragon suiciding, if the rider didn't first from shear mental breakdown.

Riders who have lost their dragon have a hard enough time recuperating enough to want to stay alive, and it's a strain on them to be around other dragons. Brekke was a little different in that she was a HAD, and had F'nor and Canth to lean on, but she is still damaged goods.
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Old Jun 8 2009, 01:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

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I think the idea is that losing a dragon tears such a hole in the rider's emotional psyche that they cannot be relied upon to be a stable partner to a new dragon.
I agree with you in part, but I think it's more than that. Grief and loss are incredibly powerful forces, and recovery would necessarily be a long process. It's also a process which could quite possibly never come to a conclusion in most instances - but not necessarily all.

Looking back at the losses I've suffered in my own life - well, I worked through a lot of them by writing about the emotions of the dragonless. [All of these were for the drabbles100 challenge - titles are fixed, and the wordcount was 100 words apiece, so they're all exceedingly short and readable.] I know how the deepest losses can scar you, can tear you apart... but they can also place you in a crucible of raw emotion from which you can emerge stronger, deeper, more empathic and more appreciative of all the blessings which remain. I'm a different person now, and one who has no regrets. This is why I don't believe that loss and grief alone are permanent, unbreachable barriers to re-Impression. A dragonless person would firstly need to be of the right mindset to make such a substantial recovery, secondly they'd need the time to do so, and thirdly they'd need to be able to reach that point while still being of an Impressionable age and mind. Quite substantial barriers, yes, but not insurmountable. Finally, you've got to beat the odds of Impressing not just once, but twice.

Was Brekke capable of getting to such a point? Perhaps. Had she done so, at the time of that hatching? Absolutely not!

Beyond all this though is a further option. Does Impression permanently re-wire a rider's brain? Is there *physically* only room in a person's head for the one dragon? We don't have the answer to that question, and short of asking Anne, never will, but I do think the evidence suggests that though re-Impression *could* be possible, it's a vanishingly remote possibility.

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Old Jun 9 2009, 11:26 PM   #7
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I agree with you in part, but I think it's more than that. Grief and loss are incredibly powerful forces, and recovery would necessarily be a long process. It's also a process which could quite possibly never come to a conclusion in most instances - but not necessarily all.

Looking back at the losses I've suffered in my own life - well, I worked through a lot of them by writing about the emotions of the dragonless. [All of these were for the drabbles100 challenge - titles are fixed, and the wordcount was 100 words apiece, so they're all exceedingly short and readable.] I know how the deepest losses can scar you, can tear you apart... but they can also place you in a crucible of raw emotion from which you can emerge stronger, deeper, more empathic and more appreciative of all the blessings which remain. I'm a different person now, and one who has no regrets. This is why I don't believe that loss and grief alone are permanent, unbreachable barriers to re-Impression. A dragonless person would firstly need to be of the right mindset to make such a substantial recovery, secondly they'd need the time to do so, and thirdly they'd need to be able to reach that point while still being of an Impressionable age and mind. Quite substantial barriers, yes, but not insurmountable. Finally, you've got to beat the odds of Impressing not just once, but twice.

Was Brekke capable of getting to such a point? Perhaps. Had she done so, at the time of that hatching? Absolutely not!

Beyond all this though is a further option. Does Impression permanently re-wire a rider's brain? Is there *physically* only room in a person's head for the one dragon? We don't have the answer to that question, and short of asking Anne, never will, but I do think the evidence suggests that though re-Impression *could* be possible, it's a vanishingly remote possibility.
I doubt there is any physical rewiring; perhaps some mental, but maybe not given that the Impressed are latent empaths.

And none of us really knows what this kind of a loss would mean for an empath mentally and emotionally. Losses that we as mundanes can survive and grow from might actually be unsurvivable for a person so attuned. We can't know because we aren't such people. According to canon, it appears that for the vast majority of such people on Pern, this is not a recoverable loss. So maybe they aren't likely to have the mindset you mention.
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Old Jun 10 2009, 04:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

Please don't assume you can speak for all of us, okay?

Anyway, onto the specific comments:
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I doubt there is any physical rewiring; perhaps some mental, but maybe not given that the Impressed are latent empaths.
Bold mine.

Cite, please? Sure, mentasynth had been created prior to the time of Dragonsdawn, but it was not part of the genetic makeup of the vast majority of the populace - and certainly not in the case of Sean and Sorka, and by inference most of the other first pass dragonriders (it wasn't one of Kitti Ping's criteria for being a candidate, despite being a glaringly obvious marker). There is no evidence to suggest that the subset of the population acceptable to dragonkind is any different to a comparable percentage of normal humans here and now. Sure there are a few outliers - HADs, for instance - but we're dealing with Joe K Average [J'average?] the dragonrider here, not super-special Brekke alone.

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And none of us really knows what this kind of a loss would mean for an empath mentally and emotionally.
I'd argue that some of us can get close, but I quite understand why you hold your own opinion on the matter. Seriously, the type of loss that tears your soul in two, and you're forced to re-confront every single day, potentially for the rest of your life, isn't something that another person can really know or understand unless they've been there too. It's a terrible gulf, and one which even empathy and compassion can rarely breach. We can extrapolate from our own experiences, but there's no substitute at all for being there. People come through these events in different ways, and there's no right way of doing it, and you certainly can't say of any given individual exactly how they feel or how they will or will not rebuild their lives. But, what we can say with certainty is that some people can surmount these seemingly insurmountable events successfully.

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Losses that we as mundanes can survive and grow from might actually be unsurvivable for a person so attuned.
Indeed they might. But we're not dealing with unsurvivable losses here - a dragonless rider who suicides is scarcely in a position to re-Impress now, are they?
Quote:
We can't know because we aren't such people. According to canon, it appears that for the vast majority of such people on Pern, this is not a recoverable loss. So maybe they aren't likely to have the mindset you mention.
Those who might be in a position to re-Impress have, by definition, survived the worst that the loss can throw at them. Some riders choose suicide, others go on, and if you choose to go on you have choices beyond just that. Do you merely exist, or do you actively re-build your soul? Either extreme is possible, and given a lack of any physical bar, there's no reason at all why someone couldn't be capable of re-Impressing providing the right conditions were met.

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Old Jun 10 2009, 10:42 AM   #9
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Cite, please? Sure, mentasynth had been created prior to the time of Dragonsdawn, but it was not part of the genetic makeup of the vast majority of the populace - and certainly not in the case of Sean and Sorka, and by inference most of the other first pass dragonriders (it wasn't one of Kitti Ping's criteria for being a candidate, despite being a glaringly obvious marker). There is no evidence to suggest that the subset of the population acceptable to dragonkind is any different to a comparable percentage of normal humans here and now. Sure there are a few outliers - HADs, for instance - but we're dealing with Joe K Average [J'average?] the dragonrider here, not super-special Brekke alone.

DragonFlight does say that the riders on search are looking for candidates that are "sensitive" to dragons. And the fact that some dragons (e.g. Canth) are better at picking out these candidates.

F'lar pretty much describes Lessa as the perfect candidate, and she is a full-blown empath (that can project as well as sense).

It is also mentioned that Ruatha is known for its famous gold riders, which means that whatever they are looking for in dragonriders is probably genetic.

Given these facts it is understandable why someone would draw the conclusion that suitable dragonriders, and especially gold riders, are latent empaths.

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Old Jun 10 2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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DragonFlight does say that the riders on search are looking for candidates that are "sensitive" to dragons. And the fact that some dragons (e.g. Canth) are better at picking out these candidates.

F'lar pretty much describes Lessa as the perfect candidate, and she is a full-blown empath (that can project as well as sense).

It is also mentioned that Ruatha is known for its famous gold riders, which means that whatever they are looking for in dragonriders is probably genetic.

Given these facts it is understandable why someone would draw the conclusion that suitable dragonriders, and especially gold riders, are latent empaths.
Yes, that's true - but it doesn't mean that the Pernese population is any different to this one!
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Old Jun 11 2009, 01:23 AM   #11
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Please don't assume you can speak for all of us, okay?
You first.
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Old Jun 11 2009, 02:38 AM   #12
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This thread is reaZlly intertesting, and I'll definitely come back when I have more time and energy!

So far, I kind of have to go with Kath here. I obviosly have never been partnered with a dragon, much less lost one, but I've come through some. . . interesting stuff (let's put it that way)- and I know, first-hand, that recovery eventually is not only possible but probable. It's not what happens to you, it's what you do about it.
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Old Jun 11 2009, 10:58 AM   #13
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Yes, that's true - but it doesn't mean that the Pernese population is any different to this one!
Let's look at some facts about the Pernese population compared to this one.

1. Their ancestors were screened for current biological defects as well as genetic defects. One must assume that anyone with a major defect was not allowed to come to Pern, so their ancestors have healthier genes than we do. One would also assume that some of the genetic defects that they were looking for would be mental as well as physical (i.e. Depression, Manic-Depression, etc.).

2. Some of their ancestors were treated with a process that gives them at least some telepathic/emphathic capabilities, and that these capabilities are genetic.

Given these facts, I would say that the Pernese population is different than this one. But, in fact, since they should have been screened for genetic predisposition towards Depression, it should mean that an average individual from that population should be more able to bounce back from a trauma than an average individual in our population.

Is Lytol that much different than some of the stories you hear or read about where a man loved his wife so much that after he became a widower, he chose never to remarry (or even have deep emotional attachment to another partner). With the main difference being that instead of it being his wife, it was his dragon.

The part that is a mystery is how deep is that connection between the dragon and its rider. We know that it is supposed to be deeper than any two individuals in our population can bond. But does impression permanently rewire the human's brain? From what I can tell, that is a question that the author has not definitively answered, and each of us must answer for ourselves. Based off of that answer, we each are free to answer the OP's original question differently.

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Old Jun 11 2009, 11:54 AM   #14
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

Do we know what is required to rewire the human brain, given the state of neuroscience today? We're still figuring out how the brain heals and changes itself when it's damaged or when it learns. I don't think it's a huge leap to assume some major reworking goes on when you are bonded mind to mind to another creature.
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Old Jun 11 2009, 01:02 PM   #15
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Do we know what is required to rewire the human brain, given the state of neuroscience today? We're still figuring out how the brain heals and changes itself when it's damaged or when it learns. I don't think it's a huge leap to assume some major reworking goes on when you are bonded mind to mind to another creature.
This.
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Old Jun 11 2009, 02:39 PM   #16
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I think/agree that the "replacement" factor is key to why it would be a bad idea...rather like the way some have a 2nd child to be a bone donor etc for an older ill child... (from a recent movie)....anyway I do think it would be difficult (if not impossible) for a 2nd bonding to take place...maybe more of a 2nd marriage with the widow/widower haunting the new couple...
Lytol still winces/cringes being around other dragons after his loss and he is the most stable of the walking wounded...didn't Todd's dragonless man live as a hermit in a cave?
Will not get into the discussion of mentaynth in general population (I think it was discussed on antoher thread devoted to that topic)....
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Old Jun 11 2009, 02:47 PM   #17
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Lytol still winces/cringes being around other dragons after his loss and he is the most stable of the walking wounded...didn't Todd's dragonless man live as a hermit in a cave?
Yeah, that's one of the things that bugged me about how they treated Brekke. She's a HAD, recently dragonless, and they want to bring her out of her catatonia... and yet no-one even considers the idea that getting her out of the Weyr might be a useful idea? The one of the absolute worst things about losing something that should never be lost is being surrounded by people who have what you no longer have. It's important to face up to that at some point - something that Lytol never actually needed to do until Jaxom Impressed, which is worth bearing in mind before holding up his example as the paragon of how to adapt - but at least let the woman come back to herself before re-immersing her in a 24-7 life amongst dragons!
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Old Jun 11 2009, 03:15 PM   #18
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I think that Lytol faced the knowledge that others had dragons and he no longer did quite well...(I have been curious about his drunkenness at the impression of Ruth...was he truly drunk or acting more drunk than he was (ala Robinton) ? any ideas?)
But to get back on topic...A contrast of Aramina and Brekke...Aramina was unable to stay in the Weyr because of the noise of so many dragons...She did not seem to have an off switch yet in ROP or DOP after prolonged absence of dragons she could no longer hear them...She was shocked enough to faint...Her ability then returned as Gadareth (I think) mentioned that they always warned her they were coming out of courtesy....
Brekke having impressed a dragon found her comfort in hearing the voices of the other dragons. They kept her with them (as they kept Robinton with them later).
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Old Jun 11 2009, 03:23 PM   #19
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I think that Lytol faced the knowledge that others had dragons and he no longer did quite well...(I have been curious about his drunkenness at the impression of Ruth...was he truly drunk or acting more drunk than he was (ala Robinton) ? any ideas?)
Not sure. I'm more struck by his gradual crumbling in the early part of Dragonflight, which is one of Anne's better examples of good characterisation of flawed people.
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Old Jun 11 2009, 11:12 PM   #20
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Let's look at some facts about the Pernese population compared to this one.

1. Their ancestors were screened for current biological defects as well as genetic defects. One must assume that anyone with a major defect was not allowed to come to Pern, so their ancestors have healthier genes than we do. One would also assume that some of the genetic defects that they were looking for would be mental as well as physical (i.e. Depression, Manic-Depression, etc.).

2. Some of their ancestors were treated with a process that gives them at least some telepathic/emphathic capabilities, and that these capabilities are genetic.

Given these facts, I would say that the Pernese population is different than this one. But, in fact, since they should have been screened for genetic predisposition towards Depression, it should mean that an average individual from that population should be more able to bounce back from a trauma than an average individual in our population.

Is Lytol that much different than some of the stories you hear or read about where a man loved his wife so much that after he became a widower, he chose never to remarry (or even have deep emotional attachment to another partner). With the main difference being that instead of it being his wife, it was his dragon.

The part that is a mystery is how deep is that connection between the dragon and its rider. We know that it is supposed to be deeper than any two individuals in our population can bond. But does impression permanently rewire the human's brain? From what I can tell, that is a question that the author has not definitively answered, and each of us must answer for ourselves. Based off of that answer, we each are free to answer the OP's original question differently.

GH
All valid points. I find physical rewiring unlikely given that Impression can and does take place without/prior to physical contact. Mentally, the field is wide open.

I believe the author establishes fairly well that there are a range of responses to losing a dragon and that most don't handle it at all well. Lytol is thus established as one of the better-adjusted cases. From your example of widowers, we get a wide range of responses to losing a wife. Some never marry again; some go so far as to suicide; some remarry with little or no upset; there is a range of responses. Why would it be any different losing a dragon? Well, the bonding with a dragon is supposed to be closer and more intense...and while this might skew the bell-curve toward suicide, I think you'd still have a bell-curve of responses.

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Old Jun 11 2009, 11:19 PM   #21
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Do we know what is required to rewire the human brain, given the state of neuroscience today? We're still figuring out how the brain heals and changes itself when it's damaged or when it learns. I don't think it's a huge leap to assume some major reworking goes on when you are bonded mind to mind to another creature.
I'd say that something is obviously different. After all, the Pernese population has functioning empaths and one functioning telepath. Our population has none of the above unless they're being dissected for study in Hangar 18 of Area 51. (Fat chance that.)

Whatever is physically different from our population I would say probably exists pre-Impression. There is no physical mechanism involved at Impression given that some pairs appear to Impress before actual physical contact.

Mentally, who knows? Perhaps the act of Impression does do some mental rewiring...or perhaps it simply takes advantage of a situation/condition that already exists as a result of the physical differences that existed before Impression. Does Impression carve a slot into which a tab is inserted, or is the slot already there? Open question.
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Old Jun 12 2009, 12:37 AM   #22
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[...]I've come through some. . . interesting stuff (let's put it that way)- and I know, first-hand, that recovery eventually is not only possible but probable. It's not what happens to you, it's what you do about it.

I agree. I've had a history of serious depression and suicidal thoughts, one incident of self-harm, and another of emotionally shutting down, almost entirely. I'm still here, obviously, but given my history, it could have gone very differently.

Grief is powerful. Losing half of yourself would do a number on anyone. I think the reactions of the dragonless is proof their brains are rewired by Impression, indeed perhaps on a physical level, if only because of the chemicals the brain generates to govern emotion.
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Old Jun 12 2009, 09:36 AM   #23
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I agree. I've had a history of serious depression and suicidal thoughts, one incident of self-harm, and another of emotionally shutting down, almost entirely. I'm still here, obviously, but given my history, it could have gone very differently.

Grief is powerful. Losing half of yourself would do a number on anyone. I think the reactions of the dragonless is proof their brains are rewired by Impression, indeed perhaps on a physical level, if only because of the chemicals the brain generates to govern emotion.
Ah, chemical rewiring as a result of mental stimulus leading to physical change. That's a mechanism that might work.
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Old Jun 12 2009, 11:25 AM   #24
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Ah, chemical rewiring as a result of mental stimulus leading to physical change. That's a mechanism that might work.
I didn't realise you'd thought any of us meant physical re-wiring any other way. Apologies for not making it more obvious that this is what I meant several days ago.
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Old Jun 12 2009, 10:10 PM   #25
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I didn't realise you'd thought any of us meant physical re-wiring any other way. Apologies for not making it more obvious that this is what I meant several days ago.
I'm still trying to figure out how to physically rewire a brain through mental telepathy.
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Old Jun 12 2009, 10:18 PM   #26
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I'm still trying to figure out how to physically rewire a brain through mental telepathy.
Fine TK comes to mind.
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Old Jun 13 2009, 06:08 AM   #27
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I'm still trying to figure out how to physically rewire a brain through mental telepathy.
Thoughts *are* chemistry and physical signals. A fully-fledged telepathic bond where there was none before, I'm guessing that'd hardwire some neurological pathways easily as fast as the normal modes of brain development.

It also throws a new light on the Impression-age cut off - it's not how flexible and open minded you are that's the key, as people can be capable of change all their lives - but there's a limit to how much new physical/neurological change the brain can take as you age.
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Old Jun 13 2009, 04:03 PM   #28
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

I'd agree with Kath. While a lot of books/philosophies/etc. seem to separate mind from body, and we don't entirely understand how the mind arises from the physical matter of the brain yet, there ARE proven links between the physical state of your brain influencing your mind and how you act (ie, Downs Syndrome is caused by the brain, among other things, being formed improperly due to the presence of 3 21st chromosomes in that person's cells rather than the typical 2), and there are proven links about how the mere act of being alive and thinking and learning from your environment can lay down new neurons, and cause how neurons connect to one another to change. An infant's brain looks different from a child's, which looks different from an adult's, which looks different from an elderly person's with dementia.

I'm sure there would be some rather spectacular physical changes if you linked minds with a dragon. For one, you're getting emotional feedback from another body, another being. I'd think it'd cause neurons to do interesting things, to grow in different ways, coping with that.

I wonder if there'd be...almost parallels with drug addiction? If you lost a dragon? I mean, the dragon gives you unconditional love. Are they simulating certain emotional centers in your brain to do that? Does a dragonrider's body get flooded with dopamine or whatever neurochemistry produces the feeling of being happy and loved? I don't mean this in a negative way per se, not like the stereotyped image of a druggie coming off a high, but more in the way that the brain has been wired to want/need things it no longer has access to, and then has difficulties coping?

Also, the idea that Impression age is linked to the physical flexibility of the brain and nerve matter is interesting. And cool. I really, really like that idea.
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Old Jun 13 2009, 06:43 PM   #29
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Yes, Kath & DM, I think you're on to something! Especially about the adaptability of younger minds. It could also partially explain the euphoria experienced at impression. The dragon is overjoyed at finding what he/she must have to survive and the rider is thrilled at having been "chosen." The emotional bounce-back between the two would be incredible. I think the dragon's minds are "altered" in a similar way. They tend to go a little crazy when their riders are unconscious. And once a rider's brain is adapted to the constant input from the dragon it could certainly have a profound effect if it was withdrawn. We know that some people are able to overcome the loss or at least cope with it but most are not.
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Old Jun 13 2009, 11:07 PM   #30
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I'd agree with Kath. While a lot of books/philosophies/etc. seem to separate mind from body, and we don't entirely understand how the mind arises from the physical matter of the brain yet, there ARE proven links between the physical state of your brain influencing your mind and how you act (ie, Downs Syndrome is caused by the brain, among other things, being formed improperly due to the presence of 3 21st chromosomes in that person's cells rather than the typical 2), and there are proven links about how the mere act of being alive and thinking and learning from your environment can lay down new neurons, and cause how neurons connect to one another to change. An infant's brain looks different from a child's, which looks different from an adult's, which looks different from an elderly person's with dementia.

I'm sure there would be some rather spectacular physical changes if you linked minds with a dragon. For one, you're getting emotional feedback from another body, another being. I'd think it'd cause neurons to do interesting things, to grow in different ways, coping with that.

I wonder if there'd be...almost parallels with drug addiction? If you lost a dragon? I mean, the dragon gives you unconditional love. Are they simulating certain emotional centers in your brain to do that? Does a dragonrider's body get flooded with dopamine or whatever neurochemistry produces the feeling of being happy and loved? I don't mean this in a negative way per se, not like the stereotyped image of a druggie coming off a high, but more in the way that the brain has been wired to want/need things it no longer has access to, and then has difficulties coping?

Also, the idea that Impression age is linked to the physical flexibility of the brain and nerve matter is interesting. And cool. I really, really like that idea.
Probably some of the better speculation on the topic.

I'm a little leery of leaning too much on the fixed nature of "neural pathways" however. The term tends to be sloppy shorthand for what writers don't really know about the topic (and also tends to borrow a little too much from the garbage put out by L. Ron Hubbard and his drones). While certain processes are identified with certain physical structures in the brain, and alterations to those structures can produce alterations in thought patterns and behavior, the brain has also repeatedly surprised researchers with its ability to "rewire" itself, sometimes even in cases where such a response cannot reasonably be expected. It has also proven remarkably inconsistent about the circumstances of such rewirings.

Unfortunately, the data tends to be "all over the board" at the moment and most researchers acknowledge that each new discovery tends to expand what they don't know more than what they do. Still, it makes the best explanation for the process of Impression being age-linked.

--

The addiction aspect is a particularly good analogy and could well play a role in the more profoundly negative and self-violent response of many that lose their dragons. Good observation.

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Old Jun 14 2009, 03:55 AM   #31
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

Well, I said nothing about fixed neural pathways. Actually said the opposite--that the act of having the dragon, and losing it, would probably cause alterations, changes...which is the opposite of "fixed".

Basically (and I argued this once in the Talent forum if I recall), Form Follows Function. It's an idea that spans a lot of different fields, but I suspect most people don't really, truly understand it, and those that do are probably engineers or architects or other professions that deal with physical objects. The mind *seems* unteathered from its physical organ, but that's not actually the case...you're going to have real chemical and physical changes on some level mirroring whatever's going on in the mind. We just don't know enough about the brain yet to know exactly what those changes are, or where they are, and how they all interact. "Neural pathways" (and notice the quotes) is a current idea on this model, and it does well enough as a placeholder for the discussion, but it's not the only possible theory.

I suspect the difficulties science has with deciphering the brain arises in part the delicate nature of it. On one hand, if some living creature's head is screwed up, it's not going to reproduce as easily. Either others of its type will see that it's not "normal" and refuse it, or if all of its kind are different it can't communicate for courtship purposes, or it will get itself killed because it was different in a way that was detrimental to its well-being, etc. etc. On the other hand, a system that is TOO rigid won't be able to respond to pressures around it...it will die due to failure to adapt. A meat-eating bird being pressured out of its niche might find a way to survive eating nuts...but only if its behavior is plastic enough to allow it. So we end up with a nerve/brain system that's delicate and rigid in some ways (because if it changed too rapidly, too freely you end up with screwed-in-the-head creatures that don't function properly, you need SOME standard that works), but also surprisingly plastic in other ways (because there needs to be a pathway to adapt along to keep the genes alive.) But then again, I'm not a scientist, doctor, or anything. Don't have a college degree. So perhaps I'm dead wrong. But it seems to work this way, from a layman's point of view.

Anyway...back to the dragonriders. Yeah. I'm really digging the limitations-of-human-neural-tissue ideas. So you have real, physical changes (even if Pern medicine is too stone-age to know about them), compounded by the individual dragonrider's base personality and methods of coping with the pain and loss.

That being said...you could argue that Brekke having a new dragon might be detrimental in a social way (if she is comparing the new to the old, etc, causing social and emotional pain), but beneficial in a physical way (her brain is no longer coping with a loss of input; it can resume some of the old patterns developed with her prior queen). Almost a no-win situation...things are hurty either way.
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Old Sep 14 2009, 03:03 PM   #32
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

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Yeah, that's one of the things that bugged me about how they treated Brekke. She's a HAD, recently dragonless, and they want to bring her out of her catatonia... and yet no-one even considers the idea that getting her out of the Weyr might be a useful idea? The one of the absolute worst things about losing something that should never be lost is being surrounded by people who have what you no longer have. It's important to face up to that at some point - something that Lytol never actually needed to do until Jaxom Impressed, which is worth bearing in mind before holding up his example as the paragon of how to adapt - but at least let the woman come back to herself before re-immersing her in a 24-7 life amongst dragons!
Are you forgetting that it was her ability to hear dragons that kept her sane at all? Even after she "broke through" at the Hatching, she had to cling to that. She's luckier than most dragonlost, because she can still have some contact, even if it's not the direct, immediate contact she has lost.
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Old Sep 14 2009, 03:12 PM   #33
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Are you forgetting that it was her ability to hear dragons that kept her sane at all? Even after she "broke through" at the Hatching, she had to cling to that.
Was it? It was a crutch she relied on, sure, but there's nothing to say that she wouldn't have found a different way back to herself under other circumstances in a different environment - not that we'll ever know either way on that score, as an individual character only gets one chance at life.

[Unless you're Mirrim, in which case you have a whole book of choose-your-own-adventure alternatives...]

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She's luckier than most dragonlost, because she can still have some contact, even if it's not the direct, immediate contact she has lost.
Yes and no. Sometimes, there simply is NO substitute. Sometimes, a clean break is better. But, F'nor needed her, and Benden needed her as well, so I think everyone came out a winner the way things worked out.
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Old Jul 11 2013, 11:22 PM   #34
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

I realize I'm probably beating a dead thread, but having newly discovered these boards, I felt the urge to register in order to chime in with my two cents, as this particular issue always interested me.

I personally, think a rider COULD re-impress after losing a dragon. Having already Impressed once, the person already has proven their ability to form the bond. The queen hatchling from that clutch (wasn't her name Pirith?) was clearly going to head for Brekke and had seemingly chosen her had Berd not flown at her and frightened her away (giving Talina an opening to step up and get her instead).

As to the why nots/disapproval of other characters... I think it's mainly a matter of tradition/superstition. No rider (that we or they knew of) *had* ever re-Impressed after losing a dragon, so they assumed it couldn't (or shouldn't) be done. Much like the idea of girls Impressing fighting dragons (and yes, I'm one of those radicals who thinks that girls *should* be able to Impress male dragons, as long as the personalities of the dragon/candidate were compatible).

I think if Berd hadn't interfered Brekke *would* have re-Impressed, and that could have set a precedent giving hope to other dragonless riders (provided they were still young enough to be candidates). Far from killing herself as soon as the new queen could go between, I think devotion to the new dragon (and wanting to keep her alive) would prevent that, and in my opinion I think the new bond would help heal the loss of the original one. I don't think it would cheapen the memory of Wirenth if Brekke had Impressed Pirith...much in the same way that getting a new pet doesn't mean you didn't love your old one, or, more accurately, since dragons are sentient; the way that someone who has lost their husband/wife and later re-marries doesn't mean they didn't love their original spouse. Not all riders would *want* to even try it, out of loyalty to their original dragon (like Lytol), but for some, it could help them recover from the loss and give them a second chance, especially if, like Brekke, their dragon was lost while young.
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Old Jul 13 2013, 04:15 AM   #35
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Default Re: Brekke and Re-Impression

Personally, I don't think it's anything physical that stops a rider re-Impressing, I think it's more a mental thing...or rather, what they're thinking. I seem to recall someone suggesting that an ex-dragonrider would be...shall we say, "unattractive" to a newly-hatched dragon because they'd only be thinking sad thoughts. I also recall a few books suggesting that even seeing a dragon (or a fire-lizard) can cause pain to some ex-dragonriders (Mikal and Lytol spring to mind). Of course, we don't know if grief can stop a potential Impression from happening; wasn't David Catarel more or less distant and depressed until he Impressed Polenth?

It occurs to me that it might not be grief that turns a hatchling away, but the memory of the dead dragon. There's never been an instance of a hatchling Impressing a person who already has a dragon, so we can assume the hatchling will realise via telepathy that the person has a dragon and avoid them. A dragonless person will thus also be passed over because seeing a dragon will bring memories of their lost dragon, and thus bring them to the top of the mind; the hatchling will see them, realise they're not "their partner" and move on.

In Brekke's case, I'd say the hatchling (Arwith, I think) was intrigued by Brekke; if Brekke was in a catatonic state, who knows what her thoughts at the time were? Arwith might have been unsure whether she had been bonded to a dragon or not, until Berd chased her away to prevent Arwith taking the next step. So perhaps she could have re-Impressed, but only under these specific circumstances (not thinking of her lost dragon at all...and the chances that that will happen are certainly very low).

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As to the why nots/disapproval of other characters... I think it's mainly a matter of tradition/superstition. No rider (that we or they knew of) *had* ever re-Impressed after losing a dragon, so they assumed it couldn't (or shouldn't) be done.
Dunno about that...both Lytol and Brekke (when no longer catatonic) expressed displeasure at the thought of re-impression...and that certainly wouldn't make them suitable targets for hatchlings. Of course, that's only going by those two examples, but I personally think re-Impression's unlikely to happen; losing a dragon is absolutely devastating, and those it happens to are changed forever. The ones who survive only cope by keeping themselves distracted enough in their day-to-day routines that they don't think of their dead dragons. I get what you're saying about remarrying and getting new pets, but this bond is so much stronger because of the mental link that I doubt you'd ever get a scenario where an ex-dragonrider would be able to re-Impress.

However...we actually have sort of seen it happen with Nuella; her green watch-wher died, and she ended up massively depressed, but she managed to re-Impress to a gold watch-wher...supposedly the last on Pern. Of course, a watch-wher link (via blood) isn't nearly as strong as that of a dragon's; it's closer to that of a fire-lizard's.

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Much like the idea of girls Impressing fighting dragons (and yes, I'm one of those radicals who thinks that girls *should* be able to Impress male dragons, as long as the personalities of the dragon/candidate were compatible).
Hey, you're no radical; that's canon now! As of Dragon's Time and Sky Dragons, female riders have been Impressing blue dragons (in the Third Pass). No word on browns, though.
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