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"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
In many stories, there are some experiences that are so horribly mind-shattering that the usual result is stark raving madness. This is the signature characteristic of an Eldritch Abomination and one of the central tropes of the Cosmic Horror Story genre, but other things can cause it as well, such as prolonged torture or learning Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
There is generally a distinction between things that happen to the mind because of experience and things that are done to the brain. This trope is the former. Thus, insanity caused by drugs or a specific, quasi-magical effect (like a Brown Note) doesn't qualify. Contrast those things with the Shoggoths, who strain people's sanity in spite of never having that as a stated special ability—the thought of them is just that horrible. Confronting a Creature From Beyond The Stars or a Thing That Should Not Exist will lead either to psychological regression into denial, or insanity when the cognitive dissonance becomes too great. H.P. Lovecraft was fond of these; his stories abound with creatures from regions of space where the known laws of nature do not apply, and geometries that violate the laws of physics.
This almost could have been Truth in Television, insofar as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a real mental illness, but a character who Goes Mad From the Revelation usually is portrayed in a more generic insanity, often resembling Freak Outs, catatonia, schizophrenia or most commonly, psychotic mania with Laughing Mad. Sometimes, if you whack someone with the "insane stick" enough times, they'll get Bored with Insanity.
The main inspiration for this trope is the work of H.P. Lovecraft, whose story The Call of Cthulhu is the Trope Namer. Occurs in most of his work and a good deal of Lovecraft-inspired work that use Mad Gods and Eldritch Abominations, indeed Cthulhu-inspired RPGs often make this a game mechanic. Will be absent from stories where you can punch out Cthulhu. Mostly.
The extreme form of a Freak-Out. May take the form of a Heroic BSOD where the thing isn't going to start working again. If the whole nature of the universe is opened to you because of your velocity, this is Ludicrous Speed.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto: Sasuke. He went nuts after Madara told him what Itachi's true intentions were.
- Also, Deidara. He gets pretty unhinged when he realizes that Itachi's Sharingan is more artful than his bombs.
- Casca in Berserk goes insane during the Eclipse after a harrowing Break the Cutie ordeal that involves being branded for sacrifice, losing everyone in the Hawks to things out of pure nightmare, getting stripped naked and almost getting tentacle-raped by demons, and then getting brutally raped by Femto, her former commander turned demon king (and, because of said newly-born demon king status, is inflicting utterly excruciating agony on her through her Brand all the while that he's doing this to her), right in front of the man she loved. As Guts is held down and Forced to Watch it happen.
- It speaks volumes about Berserk that after this, it went From Bad to Worse.
- A few characters in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni arguably experience this, most definitely Keiichi and Shmion.
- Suzu in Peacemaker Kurogane becomes Axe Crazy and a Depraved Homosexual after finding his beloved master dead, and being raped by an old man.
- The reason Schwarzwald from The Big O goes mad and decides to destroy Paradigm City is because he figures out the show's Ontological Mystery (or at least part of it... it's a big mystery).
- Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho definitely saw some things he shouldn't have, that broke his brain... literally. However, the madness was aided and abetted by the Chapter Black tape.
- Ralph Werec of Soukou no Strain went from perfect soldier to traitorous Omnicidal Maniac when he saw that his people had created the Humongous Mecha he was piloting by killing harmless little alien girls for their Psychic Powers. However, though his reaction is understandable, when one of the sort-of-survivors shows Sara the story in a vision, she keeps her own sanity. Mind you, Ralph also got sucked into a dimensional rift that gave him terminal cancer directly after said vision.
- Definitely happens to Shinji in The End Of Evangelion when the ritual to awaken Lilith/Rei Ayanami reduces him to a fit of shrieking omnicidal insanity. It didn't help that he had just seen Asuka's torn-apart remains only about a minute earlier.
- More or less every single Tipharian in Battle Angel Alita that learns "the secret of Tiphares" (Tipharians undergo a special ceremony at the age of nineteen. During this ceremony, the brain of the Tipharian is replaced with a computer chip) is driven insane. Most commit suicide.
- Alita is a citizen of Tiphares thanks to Desty Nova. Heroic BSOD time!
- In Fantastic Children, scientist Dr. Radcliffe became obsessed with unraveling the mystery of the Children of Befort. Needless to say, the more he found out, the madder he went. He could have been saved a lot of suffering if he knew that his theory was actually as far from the truth as you could get.
- Space Pirate Mito: Masatsuki Nenga goes totally batshit insane when he comes to the realisation that his "Justice" is nothing more than a tool of oppression (one that has no issue shooting down a "mob" of villagers, men, women and children) used by a pretender to the throne. This leads to about two episodes worth of him screaming "I AM JUSTICE!" at the top of his lungs whilst firing his gun like the lunatic he is. This would be fine all in all, but the guy doesn't look older than 12.
- Big Bad Millions Knives from Trigun has this as his manga origin story. (In the anime he just decided Humans Are Bastards for semi-logical if not terribly extreme reasons, and then went Evil Plan on them and his brother. In the manga, he was a sweet boy who snapped after discovering the Awful Truth — that there had been an 'Independent Plant' born before him and his brother, and the crew had studied her right to death.
- Notably, if you didn't already know who was going to grow up to be the villain, it would look like Knives handled it better than Vash. They both locked themselves in and attempted to starve to death together, but after Rem broke in and saved them it was Vash who did the Creepy Laugh and Humans Are Bastards and hysteria, and Knives seemed... perfectly okay. He saved his freak-out until after he'd set up all the colony ships to crash.
- Digimon Adventure 02: Certainly not the only factor in his descent, but his visit to the Dark Ocean a perpetually dark realm, populated by various Lovecraftian horrors and where Love and Hope are a foreign concept, was definitely the Straw that Broke the Camel's Back for Ken Ichijoji. One look at his expression [dead link] in that scene is enough to convince you that this kid just went off the deep end.
- On Tsukuyomi Moon Phase, Kouhei experiences temporary madness after his new power lets him see Hazuki's true form, after which he temporarily becomes a trembling wreck who screams like a madman every time he sees her, he eventually gets over it though.
- In Chrono Crusade, Aion has a tenuous grasp on his sanity after he's Mind Raped by Pandaemonium and discovers the Awful Truth of his origins.
- 20th Century Boys: Approximately 2/3 of the people who complete Friend's VR, which purportedly reveals his face, are Driven to Suicide. It's not his face.
- Towards the end of Gankutsuou Heloïse Villefort, who seems perfectly normal in her first appearances, is revealed to actually be a murderous woman who's out of touch with reality. When her husband tells her to her face that she's just a murderous Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and reveals that he knows she's been trying to kill him and their daughter Heloise collapses to the floor, finally giving into her insanity. Her husband then has her committed to an insane asylum for the rest of her life.
- Perfect Blue: In the anime's denouement, Rumi is permanently delusional and institutionalized.
- Most of the characters in the visual novel Saya no Uta are absolutely nuts by the time any of the three endings are over. Ryouko Tanbou, Fuminori's doctor, particularly suffers. After witnessing the reality of Dr. Ougai's experiments more than a year before the story, she's a classic case of paranoia who through her own intelligence has kept her paranoia carefully hidden in every day interactions.
- Occurs to one of the astronomers in Hellstar Remina when he realizes that Remina's a sentient Planet Eater...and it's headed for Earth.
- Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia. This trope is played totally straight with him during the Bloody Sunday strip, in which he snaps and starts to mow down his own people on the grounds that, basically, "they're not really Russians if they don't love me".
- In the Halo Legends segment Homecoming a few of the escaped Spartans find out they've been replaced with clones leading a few to commit suicide.
- Happens to Sayaka Miki and Mami Tomoe from the third alternate timeline in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Sayaka starts losing it as she realizes that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, and ends up becoming the witch known as Oktavia Von Seckendorff since she brought hope to others only to lose herself to despair; the third Mami goes insane with grief after the Sayaka of her continuity also becomes Oktavia and is killed by Homura, since she cannot handle the Awful Truth that being a Puella Magi means; she kills Kyouko and gets ready to kill Homura, so Madoka has to Mercy Kill her.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, it's strongly implied, and possibly outright stated, that the experience of going through the Gate is so "awful" that even if you did manage to survive through the pain of whatever it took from you, you could wind up a vegetable.
- School Days's Kotonoha and Sekai. Both are dumped by a Jerkass Makoto Ito and have realized that he's also screwed around with their best friends. Kotonoha's eyes turn dark around the later half of the anime.
- In Monster after Nina recovers all of her memories and realizes that the memories her evil twin brother Johan thinks are his are really hers (it's complicated), she nearly commits suicide. Thankfully Dr. Tenma intervenes just in time to avert a potentially HUGE Tear Jerker.
- Apparently, this is what happened to Kaafai in Haou Airen when Hakuron raped his new friend Kurumi in front of him.
- Also sorta invoked by Reilan in her Thanatos Gambit, in which she first sets up Kurumi for gangrape, and then verbally provokes Hakuron into killing her - all to break Kurumi's mind further. It almost worked.
- From The Sandman: "Not knowing everything is all that makes it okay sometimes." May explain why Delight became Delirium. Particularly in her little speech in Season of Mists (I think), when she snaps at Desire for belittling her, and says that she knows things, things that not even Destiny (who knows everything) knows.
- The Joker is like this at least some portrayals, more so than most Batman villains. More than one interpretation (including the 1989 movie) has shown him bursting into maniacal laughter after seeing his chemically-disfigured reflection for the first time. His fellow Rogues Gallery members are listed alongside him under Freak-Out.
- For instance, The Killing Joke. Possibly subverted by Commissioner Gordon's resistance to Joker's attempts to drive him (no pun intended) batshit crazy in the same graphic novel.
- The Comedian appears to go medium-mad when he stumbles on the secret island prior to the events of Watchmen, although his behaviour (breaking in to the home of an ex-villain whom "he knew wouldn't understand," weeping uncontrollably, and expressing remorse for all the horrible things he's done which nonetheless pale in comparison to the plot he's uncovered) may be attributable more to a massive attack of conscience and ethical sensitivity, thus arguably making him more, not less, sane. A more straightforward example from this work would be Rorschach's Despair Event Horizon, upon discovery of a little girl's butchered remains, which transforms him from a relatively rational crimefighter into a pathologically obsessed Nietzsche Wannabe intent on imposing his own brutal, uncompromising justice on what he sees as an uncaring, meaningless world.
- Dr Manhattan also deserves a mention, having been through something very like the Total Perspective Vortex and then acquired the power of God. He doesn't exactly go mad, but he certainly wasn't the same person after his experience.
- In an issue of The Fall of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep reveals his true form to the inhabitants of a biker bar: by the time he's left, everyone in the bar is sporting Milky White Eyes and catatonic with shock, except for the bartender, who is busily setting himself on fire.
- Cy has had the dubious honour of Going Mad From The Revelation twice in the same series. The first bout of insanity occurs when Nyarlathotep whispers his true name in his ear; after spending the rest of the evening and the next morning in shock, and attempting to commit suicide, Cy finally descends into catatonia for the next year. The second time is some time after Cy's recovery, when he manages to save the world by sending Nyarlathotep back to the court of Azathoth; unfortunately, he manages to catch a glimpse of its main occupant. Cy doesn't survive this next brush with insanity.
- In Spanish comic-book Mortadelo Y Filemon , the title characters are tortured by their boss with an LP of Spanish blockbuster songs (apparently repeated ad infinitum). Thy are driven mad, and other characters talk about the cruelty.
- In Captain Britain, the precognitive Cobweb goes mad when she makes the mistake of looking into the very near future, which has just been invaded by a cybernetic nightmare from another dimension and is steadily being dominated by an insane reality-warping Prime Minister by the name of Mad Jim Jaspers. Naturally, after puking her guts out and mumbling a few garbled prophecies, she tries to swallow her tongue.
- Captain Britain himself had his own brush with this trope when he was first confronted with a supernatural occurrence he couldn't dismiss or explain away - in this case, extradimensional beings contacting him in the middle of a Trans-Atlantic flight. He promptly freaked out and jumped out of the plane. Note that at this point in time, Brian got his powers from an amulet and scepter given to him by Merlin and Arthur. (Yes, them). This has been retconned at some point to Brian getting his brains rattled by a psychic attack and jumping to protect the plane's passengers (At this point he couldn't fly yet).
- According to Shattered Glass Optimus Prime's bio, he discovered something so shocking from Cybertron's past that it made him to go insane, and to the present day no one knows what it was he found.
- One issue of Hellblazer features a Well-Intentioned Extremist priest who gets into the habit of calling the police when teenagers start confessing their misdeeds to him- and at one point, he goes so far as to physically assault a girl who confessed to having sex with her brother. And then the Devil shows up; after letting him know how badly the teenagers have suffered, he ushers the priest back into the confessional and lets him hear his confession. Minutes later, the priest burns the church to the ground; from then on, he's straight-up Ax Crazy, murdering people from one end of the country to the next, culiminating in his attempt to rape a young John Constantine- which results in him getting a razorblade wedged in his face, being arrested, and committed to an asylum. After being released over twenty years later, he bumps into Constantine again at a local church; by now completely lucid, he explains everything, then jams a pencil in either eye and headbutts the pew in front of him.
- And, of course, John himself was pretty horribly traumatized by what happened in Newcastle in '79, and had to go in and out of institutions for several years afterword.
- Prior to this, in Swamp Thing Constantine leads a mentalist to make contact with heroes and villains battling what appears to be a giant, black shelled mollusk that even defeats the Spectre, implied to be an aspect of God. Though the entire experience has been traumatic, Constantine's patsy gets a good look at the shell on the creature to snap his mind: It's not a shell, it's a fingernail. The entire battle had been fought on a scale so alien, whole armies had been assaulting just the fingertip of their foe without realizing.
- After reading the last page of a Great Big Book of Everything in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, Ultraman turns into a nihilistic follower of Mandrakk.
Ultraman: There is a god...and he hates us all.
- An issue of Marvel's "What-If?" ends with Rogue (after killing Mr. Sinister) discovering the ULTIMATE TRUTH behind the Marvel Universe. The last picture of said issue has her (looking quite rattled and/or mentally shattered, take your pick) sitting down amidst a handful of Marvel comic books strewn around the ground.
- Much of the plot of Tron: Ghost in the Machine runs on this trope. The story opens with the protagonist of the game being so paralyzed by what he saw inside the computer system that he went from being an avid programmer to being a shut-in afraid to touch electronics. From there, the whole comic spirals into a genuine Mind Screw.
- In the Tintin book The Shooting Star, scientist Philippulus goes mad from the news that an asteroid is about to destroy Earth, and starts calling himself "Philippulus the prophet" while rambling about divine punishment.
- Happens in Power Pack when the kids' parents learn firsthand that the kids have superpowers, as the aliens species that gave the kids their powers brainwashed them without the kids knowledge or consent (that the majority of this species was secretly dicks had been foreshadowed their last appearance) into accepting any explanation for events that wasn't "their children have super powers" and their minds couldn't reconcile the clear facts with the brainwashing. They're temporarily saved by being led to believe that the superpowered kids were fakes switched for their real kids, though it takes till the end of the series for the brainwashing to be removed.
- Considering which settings Aeon Natum Engel uses, it's quite common. There is also a Running Gag with the readers going mad when they are figuring the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- This is described as having happened to the entire arakkoa race in Travels Through Azeroth and Outland.
- Poor, poor Nyx...
- In the setting of the Mass Effect fanfic Inglorious Boshtets, this is what happened to many people who viewed the porno magazine Fornax's "Forbidden Issue," which featured Tali's idiot crewman Prazza performing a sanity-blastingly obscene sex act that thankfully remained undescribed.
- Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic gets in on the act in The Monster Mash. They really need to erect a warning sign on that fourth wall.
- In Oldboy Oh Dae-su discovers the girl he had sex with was his daughter, madness and cutting out his tongue followed.
- In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Crystal Skull itself contains immense psychic power and knowledge, which turns Harold Oxley into a gibbering lunatic and almost Indiana Jones as well. Though he regains his sanity once the skull is returned to Akator.
- The Aliens at the climax also have incredible knowledge, which reduces the knowledge-hungry Soviet agent, Irina Spalko, to madness and then dust .
- In Dark City, detective Eddie Walenski is driven mad by the revelation that the City and everyone's identity is being mercilessly torn apart and remade by aliens, repeatedly. He compulsively draws spiral shapes on the walls of his room, refuses to acknowledge his wife's identity, and rounds off the evening by jumping in front of a train.
- During the ending of In the Mouth of Madness, after witnessing the collapse of human civilization in a rising tide of madness and mutation, John Trent cracks when he discovers that the nightmarish book that did the deed was just a novelisation of everything he did in the last few days. He finds this out by watching the film adaptation.
- The Fourth Mistress in the movie Raise the Red Lantern was pushed over the edge when she saw the dead body of the Third Mistress after her execution.
- In the Slasher Flick Terror Train, poor Kenny finds out his designated "date" for the evening sitting in the bed is actually a corpse set there by his med schooler "friends". It drives him insane, leading him to get institutionalized and returning after couple of years to exact revenge upon everyone involved.
- Parodied in National Lampoon's Class Reunion, in which the Ax Crazy Walter got that way when he was set up for a masked tryst by his classmates, only to discover that the girl they'd recruited to hook up with him was his own twin sister.
- In Soylent Green, Sol Roth loses his sanity and will to live when he discovers that Soylent Green is people.
- Debatable. Sol clearly loses his will to live, but his decision to commit suicide is made in a perfectly rational manner. He may well be crushed by despair, but insane? Probably not.
- A case can be made that this is Lucinda's problem in Knowing. She may well have been a perfectly normal child before she met up with "the Whisper People".
- Bram Stokers Dracula: Keanu Reeves' Jon Harker seems to have an episode of this when Dracula feeds his brides. He gets better.
- The entire point of the movie 'Pi' is that this happens when you find the ratio that rationalizes pi, predicts the stock market, and is also the true name of God.
- Jack Nicholson's Joker loses his mind the instant he sees his new perma-grin in the 1989 Batman movie, stumbling into the street giggling insanely.
- Loki from the new film Thor after discovering he is a Frost Giant. While he was already a bit unstable to start with having allowed a few Frost Giants into Asgard for "a bit of fun" (and to discredit Thor), this was what truly tips him over the edge.
- When the mummified corpse of Imhotep comes back to life in original The Mummy, the archeologist who saw it went insane.
"He went for a little walk! You should have seen his face! HAHAHAHA!"
- This trope, mixed with Hyperspace Is a Scary Place, is essentially the plot of Event Horizon. The test run of the titular ship's hyperdrive sent it beyond the edge of the universe where the crew experienced something that can only be described as Hell. When the rescue crew watches the video logs on the now deserted ship after it returned from the journey they see the former crew engaging in various deranged acts of graphic self-mutilation after the madness of the place took them over.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the Total Perspective Vortex, which did this to its first subject. It's believed that this will happen to anyone; the Vortex allows someone to comprehend just how significant they are in the vastness of the universe (they become hopelessly incapable of functioning when the answer turns out to be "not at all").
- In an episode of the radio series, Marvin the Paranoid Android keeps a couple of minor adversaries occupied by tying them up and playing a recording of his autobiography. They start gibbering and raving.
- It is also stated that being forced to listen to Vogon poetry for any substantial length of time will more or less produce this effect (or, at the very least, inspire one to gnaw his or her own leg off).
- The Azgoths of Kria are even worse; even biology knows how bad their poetry is. At a poetry reading of their poetrymaster, Grunthos the Flatulent's Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning, most of the audience succumbed to internal hemorrhaging, while one VIP survived only by, yes, gnawing his own leg off. Thankfully, more damage was averted when Grunthos's intestines, in a truly heroic bid to save life and civilization leaped up through his neck and throttled his brain.
- And getting a glimpse of the universe as it looks through Marvin's eyes is certainly never a good thing. In the first book, a ship's sentient computer responds to a direct link into Marvin's brain by committing suicide. In the third book, billions of genocidal battle robots are gradually paralyzed by despair when Marvin's forcibly linked into the defense grid. In the movie, Marvin uses the "point of view gun" to telepathically project his perspective onto an attacking army of Vogons. The weeping Vogons have to be literally picked up by health workers and carted off in a fleet of trucks.
- There's also a theory that, based on Fenchurch's reaction in the ending of book four, God's final message to his creations appears different to every person who looks at it. The fact that Marvin saw WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE provides a rather depressing insight into his personality. Fortunately for Marvin at least, reading it actually makes him feel good. And then he dies.
- And then there's Prak, whose brief scene is a Parody of this trope. Near the end of the third novel, an overdose of truth serum causes Prak to tell "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the entire universe, and drives everyone who hears it mad. However, what he has to say is much briefer than everyone expects, and apparently frogs and Arthur Dent are very important to the universe. Prak himself dies after several days of uncontrollable laughter upon meeting Arthur Dent.
- Spider Robinson's novel Telempath involves a virus which multiplies the human sense of smell a thousandfold. It is estimated that one third of the population goes mad or commits suicide due to the olfactory overload.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's novel Methuselah's Children, Slayton Ford goes mad when he meets the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Interestingly, after Ford goes mad, Lazarus Long mentions he is afraid that if he met them he wouldn't go mad.
- That didn't stop Lazarus from stating that, in a few centuries, he planned to go back to that planet and see one of the mysterious aliens himself. He's told it's not a good idea, but he plans to do it anyway. We never find out if he actually did go back or not.
- He did go back, as mentioned in passing in Time Enough for Love, and survived the experience without going mad—but it was at least a couple of centuries later, when he'd presumably had more time to expand his ability to deal with the unknown.
- That didn't stop Lazarus from stating that, in a few centuries, he planned to go back to that planet and see one of the mysterious aliens himself. He's told it's not a good idea, but he plans to do it anyway. We never find out if he actually did go back or not.
- In Stephen King's book IT, seeing the true form of the titular character automatically drives a person crazy.
- The ending of King's short story The Jaunt offers another memorable example of the trope.
- Also, seeing the ring of stones in King's short story "N."
- The "thing with the endless piebald side" in Liseys Story.
- In the revised first book of the Dark Tower series, a man comes Back from the Dead and claims to have knowledge of the afterlife. When he tells Roland's girlfriend what it is, she begs Roland to kill her. He does.
- The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has the "good" scientist, Dr. Lanyon, undergo this when he sees the Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation.
- The Magician's Nephew, the 6th (publication order) and 1st (chronological order) book in The Chronicles of Narnia includes an inscription stating that the reader must either face something very dangerous, or go insane wondering what sort of danger they would have had to face. So, this is more of an instance of possibly "Going mad from the lack of revelation". However, since they end up facing the danger (reviving a powerful sorceress), it's never revealed if leaving the situation alone would have indeed driven them mad or if the inscription was just there to scare people into doing something needlessly dangerous.
- In The Wheel of Time, the test for becoming a chief of the Aiel — a desert warrior society with elaborate honor customs—involves passing through an artifact that causes them to relive key moments across thousands of years that led to their formation. Aiel are such a prideful people that the shameful truth of their origins (being descended from those outcast from a tribe of extreme pacifists) hits hard. Rand enters at the same time as an Aiel, and by the end that man is clawing out his own eyes. Rand has a rather unfair advantage here, since he wasn't raised as an Aiel. Rand later reveals the truth to everyone, and hordes begin to defect from the old warrior lifestyle every day, either vanishing altogether, joining a rogue tribe, or taking up a pacifist slave life.
- Seen again later with the Seanchan. Their culture believes that women who can use magic are far too dangerous to go free, but also too useful to kill... so they slap collars on them which utterly enslave their wearer and make them puppets to a master, called a sul'dam. Recently, the main characters have disovered that the collars can't be used by anyone who does not have some degree of magical prowess themselves... meaning the sul'dam are essentially the same as the women they treat as objects. When one sul'dam discovers this she undegroes a borderline mental breakdown, and it's speculated that if this knowledge got out publically, it would shake the very foundations of the Seanchan Empire.
- In Darkness Visible ordinary people can go mad when exposed to unreality. As things deteriorate this eventually happens to something like a quarter of London's population.
- In Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, Dwayne Hoover goes on a rampage after reading a solipsistic novel by Kilgore Trout which says that its reader is the only human being in the world and that everyone else is a machine.
- Although it's made clear that Hoover had already gone doolally by this point, and it's this pre-existing mental condition that makes him believe Trout's book to be a personal message from God.
- He couldn't help it; he had bad chemicals in his brain.
- The Demu from The Demu Trilogy have their species-wide psychosis because they can't cope with their rite of passage revelation that they are descended from a species that were pets of Neglectful Precursors.
- In the second and third Firekeeper novels, the Healed One, ruler of the nation of New Kelvin, is the one person able to read a book that details the true history of their people. The secrets therein driven more than one newly ascended Healed One mad.
- In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, James Taggart goes insane, becoming permanently catatonic, when he finally recognizes his own desire to destroy for the sake of destruction. He, in turn, previously revealed to Cherryl Taggart the monstrosity of his world, beating Cherryl, and cheating on her in the same night, driving her to see what had happened to the world, and resulting in severe psychotic episode. This leads to (possibly accidental) suicide.
- In Larry Niven's Draco Tavern story "The Subject Is Closed", one of the tavern's visitors describes how one alien race claimed to have discovered the truth about the afterlife. This is the last that was heard from them, and visitors to their world discovered that they had systematically committed mass suicide.
- Hmmm. So they learned what happens when you die, and all immediately chose to die? That actually sounds like a hopeful inversion, in a twisted sort of way.
- That's one of the first things suggested. The counter is, "What if they learned the afterlife is a Hell that's worse the longer you live?" or a number of other unpleasant possibilities.
- Interesting to compare with the Puppeteers, who somehow discovered that they have no equivalent to an immortal soul, prompting their entire race to suddenly cling to life and safety. Puppeteers who leave the planet are literally considered insane.
- To be precise, they discovered that there was a one-to-one correspondence between mental states and brain states, meaning there was no possibility of evidence for a soul or spirit. Current neurology says it's a good bet this is true for humans, too...
- That assumes anyone thinks that the soul affects one's mind independent of one's brain.
- Hmmm. So they learned what happens when you die, and all immediately chose to die? That actually sounds like a hopeful inversion, in a twisted sort of way.
- As mentioned above, a Cthulhu Mythos protagonist protagonist who isn't transformed into something... not nice or dead at the end of the story usually suffers this trope.
- In the original H.P. Lovecraft stories, outright madness was not as common as in later Mythos fiction. Examples from Lovecraft's stories include:
- The nameless narrator of "Dagon".
- Some of Johansen's shipmates in "The Call of Cthulhu".
- Young Danforth in At the Mountains of Madness.
- It occurs on a global scale in Lovecraft's short story "Nyarlathotep", which tells of one man (although he's really a messenger for the god of chaos) revealing such cosmic secrets that entire cities are driven mad and civilisation collapses.
- In the original H.P. Lovecraft stories, outright madness was not as common as in later Mythos fiction. Examples from Lovecraft's stories include:
- In William Tenn's story Firewater, humanity is being observed by aliens that appear to have god-like powers, and anyone who tries too hard to understand them goes insane. Near the end, it's revealed that the aliens have a similar problem with understanding humans.
- The Bishop Murder Case: Philo Vance posits that someone went mad from studying quantum psychics.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Chessman of Mars, this is claimed for looking on the face of the dead O-Mai, a jeddak said to have died without showing a mark, and whose body was said to lie in a haunted room.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, Balurian Imperial Guardsmen are driven out of their minds by seeing the tomb of Saint Evisser. Some "saw a world of glory and bounty" and ran blindly into it only to fall into pits or be attacked by cultists, some collapsed and others struck at comrades in the conviction that all around them were corrupt.
- In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the Big Bad Storm King and his minions exist in a place "between life and death" that gives them plenty of time to contemplate Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Unprepared mortal minds that dare to touch them (or do so accidentally) are driven stark raving bonkers. Also, Du Svardenvyrd, the tome of the mad prophet Nisses, contains sufficient knowledge of the workings of the world to drive anyone who reads it past the Despair Event Horizon.
- The author and main character of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a victim of this.
- Warrior Cats: Having already developed a near-crazy obsession with the Warrior Code, the realization that her parents were in fact Leafpool and Crowfeather and her very existence was "breaking the code" pretty did away with what was left of Hollyleaf's sanity at the end of Power of Three.
- Also, in The Original Series finding out that Tigerclaw is indeed evil, just like Fireheart was trying to tell her all along, pushes Bluestar over the edge for several books.
- Invoked a lot in Simon R. Green's Nightside novels. One book features Madman, a former theoretical physicist who'd worked out the means to observe reality as it truly exists; his name says it all. In another incident, a minor character asked the animated corpse Dead Boy what it was like being dead, and was reduced to quivering catatonia by the reply.
- In Chris Wooding's novel Poison, the titular character gives up all desire to live after discovering that, not only is she a fictional character who was created by the 'heirophant'- a God-like being in the book's universe, and that her home did not exist before she came into being, but that said heirophant has been controlling her all her life, making her choose certain courses of action and make certain decisions. Luckily, she gets over it after discovering that her death would mean the death of those around her, as the story she is in is centred entirely around her.
- David Langford's short story BLIT uses a mind-breaking fractal image as a terrorist weapon.
- And one of the most famous examples in literature. Robert W. Chambers' short story anthology The King in Yellow concerns the eponymous and forbidden play that drives readers and viewers mad. The King in Yellow and everything related to it was later incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Which was given a modern film remake by John Carpenter as Cigarette Burns.
- In the chapter "The Castaway" in Hermann Melville's Moby Dick, the cabin boy Pip falls overboard and the immense emptiness of the ocean drives him mad. "By the merest chance the ship itself at last rescued him; but from that hour the little negro went about the deck an idiot; such, at least, they said he was. The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul."
- Parodied and Inverted in Don Quixote, who goes mad for trying to make sense of the purple prose that plagued the chivalry books he has read, but never was any reveal because even Aristotle could not make sense of that. Chapter I, Part I:
Over conceits of this sort the poor gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awake striving to understand them and worm the meaning out of them; what Aristotle himself could not have made out or extracted had he come to life again for that special purpose.
- William Gibson's short story Hinterlands has a parade of lone astronauts drifting at a particular point in space, setting off radio flares, who are either taken by some force, or more often, not taken. Those who are taken come back with scary new science and technology, but are all batshit crazy and eventually kill themselves without revealing much of what they saw. Those who are not taken are so profoundly crushed at being rejected by Space God that they all attempt suicide, and are then employed as counselors for those the batshit crazy returnees.
- In Robert E. Howard's "Jewels of Gwahlur" Yelaya warns Conan the Barbarian.
Here I have lain for so many centuries, to awaken each night at sunset and hold my court as of yore, with specters drawn from the shadows of the past. Man, if you would not view that which will blast your soul for ever, get hence quickly! I command you! Go!”
- The Master boasts of this:
it would blast your soul to hear from what far realm I summoned them and from what doom I guard them with ensorcelled crystal and golden serpents.
- In The Hour of the Dragon, Orastes is pleased that this did not happen.
Their iron nerves had withstood an ordeal that might have driven weaker men mad. He knew it was with no weaklings that he conspired, but men whose courage was as profound as their lawless ambitions and capacity for evil.
- The Oculus from the Fablehaven series has this effect.
- Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Anyone who swims in the Pool of Knowlege gets their eyes turned partly silver, and slowly turns into an Eldritch Abomination, who eats fear instead of food.
- Revelations are relative: the society depicted in Isaac Asimov's Nightfall lives on a planet with six suns, and its members are greatly unnerved by prolonged darkness. They're about to have their first full eclipse in two thousand years. Things get bad. (It's implied this has happened at least seven times before, each time leaving a few survivors who rebuild from a preindustrial technology level.)
- The actual sanity-shattering revelation is how vastly larger the universe (or even the immediate stellar neighborhood) is than they'd ever imagined, and how tiny and insignificant they and their world are by comparison.
- To quote the text: "Aton, somewhere, was crying, whimpering horribly like a terribly frightened child. 'Stars — all the Stars — we didn't know at all. We didn't know anything. We thought six stars in a universe is something the Stars didn't notice is Darkness forever and ever and ever and the walls are breaking in and we didn't know we couldn't know and anything --'"
- In Robert E. Howard's Kull/Bran Mak Morn story "Kings of the Night," Gonar knows things.
I know secrets that would blast even your brain, Bran, should I speak them.
- In Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence, Niccolo Machiavelli met a slave-girl which was transformed by potent hypnosis to be a "memory palace," a kind of exotic hard disk drive. Machiavelli then attempted to restore the girl to a human state, but when she did, she remembered all the perils of her life and defenestrated herself.
- In Terry Pratchett's Strata, an entire species of aliens takes a plunge past the Despair Event Horizon and commits collective suicide upon learning that the world they live on is in fact artificial and their entire prehistory was an elaborate forgery.
- In The Dresden Files' Turn Coat, Dresden barely manages to avoid this after looking upon the skinwalker with his wizardly Sight. Because things seen with the Sight can never be forgotten, every time he recalls the memory, voluntarily or otherwise, he blacks out, only to awaken some time later as a gibbering, incoherent mess, and in some cases in physical pain. He recites prime numbers to prevent himself from remembering it for a time. It takes locking himself in a room and assaulting his mind with the image over and over again to get his mind straight (he also gets a Psychic Nosebleed). Even then, he'll never forget what he saw.
- The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan: several instances it seems. The first is the realization that Thomas Messenger is destined to die, again and again throughout the infinite multiverse of the Vellum, sparking Jack's effort to find the one reality where the man he loves defies the rules and lives. Another has to do with the backstory that contributed to starting the whole story in the first place: one of the reasons the Unkin that joined Metatron's Covenant to fight the Sovereigns was because of the realization that there is in fact no judeo-christian God. Imagine being a believer, undergoing the event of touching the Vellum underneath reality (thus thinking you've been "chosen" or something), and finding out that in eternity dwells... nothing. Just some other humans that, like you, managed to touch the multiverse under reality. One of the biggest is the idea of the Unkin trying to build Heaven in the Vellum - trying to build a tiny, insignificant outpost of crude meta-human order amid the vast, hostile wilderness of eternity that exists beneath the multiverse.
- In Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, one of the astronomers goes insane from The Cloud uploading its knowledge upon him.
- In The Bible, God tells Moses that this will happen if he shows his true form to Moses. Except instead of going mad, you go dead from seeing God. The angels are pretty scary to see, too.
- One of the short stories in the Chuck Palahniuk collection Haunted has something called a "nightmare box" which does exactly this to whoever looks inside it.
- In Burying the Shadow any attempt by a soulscaper to heal an eloim's mind results in the soulscaper going stark raving mad.
- The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling: Let’s just say that Jack’s study of his student’s perpetual motion machine don’t make him the... most stable of individuals.
- Firefly both pokes fun at this trope and plays it straight. One theory on the Reavers is that were men who were driven insane by seeing the edge of space. Not only is this theory eventually shown to be wrong, but Jayne is immediately puzzled: he's been out there, and it just looks like more space. However, at one point the Reavers intentionally induce Reaver-like insanity in one victim by killing the rest of his shipmates. The Movie reveals that at least part of River's psychosis was the result of learning what happened on Miranda.
- Learning about it subconsciously. Once she had conscious knowledge of it, she recovered almost immediately.
- In Star Trek, having sex with a Deltan makes one go mad. Or so we've heard. More precisely, the sex is apparently so good that Terrans, at least, have trouble coping afterwards, unless they're Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Then the sex was sorta 'meh'.
- The Original Series episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" revolves around Kollos, an ambassador of the Medusan race, whose physical appearance is so hideous - or maybe so beautiful - that any humanoid who looks at them directly goes insane. This is a subversion, as Kollos, in contrast with Shoggoths and Eldritch horrors, is clearly a good guy.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Sound Of Drums", we learn that every Time Lord is forced at the age of eight to stare at a gap in the fabric of reality. Through this gap the entire Time Vortex can be seen, containing all that is, was, or will ever be. In the words of The Doctor, "Some would be inspired, some would run away, and some would go mad." It's initially suggested that this is what happened to the Master, though it's later revealed in The End of Time that his madness was deliberately engineered by Lord President Rassilon to help pull the Time Lords out of the time locked Last Great Time War.
- Dalek Caan in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" is arguably a case of someone who went sane from the revelation: despite exhibiting all the obvious characteristics of a Mad Oracle, having seen the whole of time itself left him utterly and completely disgusted at his own genocidal race and thus set things in motion to have the Doctor and Donna Noble defeat the Daleks.
- In the episode "The Age of Steel", the Cybermen are defeated by the Doctor stopping their emotional inhibitors from working. This causes them to remember who they really are, and what they have become, and they subsequently go insane as the shock kills them. The Doctor effectively uses the same technique to defeat Mercy Hartigan in "The Next Doctor", severing her link with the Cyber King and allowing her to see the monster she's become, destroying her mind.
- Ghost Light introduced Redvers Fenn-Cooper, an explorer and hunter who was unlucky enough to witness Light's sleeping form in the cellar of a Victorian mansion. The experience turned his hair white and drove him into the depths of insanity. By the time the Doctor arrives, he's disassociated his own identity so well that if he does acknowledge his own name, it's in the third person.
- The Torchwood episode "Adrift" has a victim of the Rift who's permanently insane as a result of looking into the heart of a dark star. He's living in a secret Torchwood-sponsored care home in an old bunker, with at least a dozen other patients. He screams for twenty hours a day...
- In Upright Citizens Brigade, a house has a "bucket of truth" in it that shows immutable truth; most people are driven to absolute despair by the sights within. A police captain who has been wallowing in despair looks into the bucket and shouts at the heavens, "Don't you think I know that?!"
- This arguably happens to Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, only instead of going off the deep end, she just becomes suicidal.
- Married With Children puts a humorous spin on this trope. Poor Al Bundy has temporarily gone insane after an unpleasant incident at work, and when Peg brings him home, he's babbling about "selling a lot of shoes after midnight." A kiss from Peg brings him back to his senses, but what makes it even funnier is when Al explains what happened:
Al: Oh Peg, it was horrible. Sixteen straight hours of shoe-selling mayhem. The last thing I remember, I was on one knee, waiting on an overflowing glacier of a woman. The first thing they teach you when you're a rookie shoe salesman is, when you've got a fat one in the chair, never look up. I looked up, Peg! I saw underwear! It said "Saturday" on it!
- In season 6, in the episode "If I could see me now" we discover that Al has bad eyesight and experiences the world mostly as fuzzy blobs. The kids prevail on him to get glasses after driving home with Al behind the wheel. Upon finally getting his glasses Al sees the world around him, especially his house and family, as it really is. He clutches his head and screams in agony, parodying this trope. He finally destroys his glasses as he would rather cling to the world he knew rather than face the truth.
- "Need to Know", an episode of the 1980s The Twilight Zone, featured William Petersen investigating an insanity epidemic in a small town. It turns out a resident has discovered the meaning of life, but to hear the secret is to go crazy.
- In another episode of The Twilight Zone, a retired Nazi general returns to the death camp he worked at, only to be tortured to insanity by the ghosts of the people he murdered. Let's just say they showed him everything they went through while in his "care".
- This happens in Being Human (UK), when Annie (a ghost) whispers to her killer, Owen a "secret that only the dead know." He snaps almost immediately. Interestingly enough, when George asks what she said, Mitchell shakes his head slightly, indicating that Annie shouldn't say—as well as the fact that he knows it too.
- When D'Anna learns the identities of the Final Five Cylons, it appears to be so overwhelming as to at least render her comatose. Only a borderline example, though, because she does get better.
- An alternate interpretation is that the mechanism in the Temple of Five that showed her the images also fried her brain, hence her gibbering and her nose bleeding. When she ressurected, emotionally overwhelmed as she was, she was not insane.
- Lampshaded in Babylon 5, when G'Kar has a guest over for dinner:
Na'kal: "Breen. You've managed to import breen from homeworld. How?"
- One episode of Criminal Minds is about a man who goes off antipsychotic meds in an attempt to access lost childhood memories, only for them to turn out to be so traumatic that they cause him to go on a killing spree.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Serenity Now" Jerry has become emotionally mature (as opposed to his shallow self) by letting his emotions out. At one point he asks George to "let it all out". We cut back later to see George in a similar state of emotional maturity, but Jerry is horrified beyond words. Even though Jerry doesn't go insane, the revelation burned out his emotional maturity and returned him to the shallow sitcom character he was before.
- In Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tom and Crow are given psychotropic drugs for Pearl to observe the effects. Tom's view, while creepy, is apparently normal to him. What makes Crow go mad? The Milky Way bar Mike was holding is now a Snickers!
- Another Played for Laughs in The Legend of Dick and Dom episode "Hairwolf"; a man is driven mad by the horrors of the Hairwolf eating his hair and dances around giving cryptic warnings like "Don't go to the castle, it's dangerous!", "Don't play the bassoon in the bath, it's wrong!" and "Don't feed a whote rabbit brussels sprouts, it'll turn green!"
- In season seven of Supernatural, Sam is being driven mad by memories of his time tortured by Lucifer in the Cage.
- "Scared" by Three Days Grace.
- This appears to be what happens to the man in the suit and then to everyone else in the video for Radiohead's "Just". The revelation itself is kept from the audience.
- In Gustav Schwab's ballad "Der Reiter und der Bodensee", a traveler lost in the snow unknowingly rides right across Lake Constance—the ice wouldn't normally be strong enough but it happens to be an exceptionally cold winter. When he arrives at a village and asks where he is, he realizes what he's done, imagines the cold abyss that was under his horse's feet, and dies of terror.
- Dungeons & Dragons supplements occasionally contain abilities which drive the user insane.
- More specifically, the Ravenloft campaign setting had tons of things that could drive a character insane, or at least prompt a madness check. Like direct mind-to-mind contact with a fiend.
- The Lords of Madness supplement indicates that the safest thing to do with the spellbook of an aboleth or the power stone of a mind flayer is to bury it, because trying to actually use the damn thing would do horrible things to the contents of your skull.
- Let alone the book itself.
- The Arcanis world-setting, along with the Living Arcanis campaign, featured Larissa. She started as the goddess of Fate, Prophecy, and all that jazz but one day she looked too far into the future and, well, went mad with the revelation. Now she's the goddess of sensuality, lust, and ladies (and men) of the evening. Apparently she's convinced that the fate she saw will come to pass and that she needs to get in as much pleasure now before it all goes kablooey.
- The Black Spiral Dancers from Werewolf: The Apocalypse get their name because every last one of them walked the Black Spiral, an equally metaphorical and literal path that brought them face-to-face with the Wyrm, a cosmic embodiment of suffering and hatred. The experience breaks the minds of all but the most strong-willed like a twig; most Black Spiral Dancers take their deed name after whatever pathetic growls or mewling noises come out of their mouth upon "revelation."
- Similarly, the Weaver, originally a cosmic embodiment of order and purpose, was turned into an all-consuming force for stasis when it tried to define the Wyld (a cosmic embodiment of primal chaos) and got the biggest "DOES NOT COMPUTE" in history.
- The Wyrm itself was originally a general elegant destroyer to keep pattern from overwhelming order and provide fresh unordered energy for the Wyld, before the Weaver tied it up. The central Wyrm went mad from the impossibility of essentially imprisoning a fireball with string, and what few pieces escaped went crazy from realizing what had happened to the world without them.
- Over in the New World of Darkness, the Bane Hounds of Werewolf: The Forsaken are said to have completely gone off their collective nut on finding the site of Father Wolf's murder.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, this is the schtick of the insane seers of Clan Malkavian, and is also a popular trait amongst the utterly inhuman Tzimisce.
- Fan game Genius: The Transgression has the Genius condition somewhat contagious- exposure to mad science can turn an ordinary human into a Beholden, or even cause a Breakthrough to becoming a full fledged Genius. This isn't generally encouraged as there's enough fighting over resources as it.
- And then, of course, we have Mage the Ascension. One could say that Awakening to the realization that all reality is controlled by the belief of people, that your beliefs can change it more than others, and that humanity has become an apathetic race unwilling to realize the wonderment of the world is simply the start of a long, torturous road to death or complete insanity. Mages who violate the rules of reality too much eventually find themselves to become gibbering madmen unable to accept any reality but their own convoluted, insane one, eventually being ejected from the fabric of the world itself. Some Mages become brainwashed into reinforcing the frozen reality as it is (i.e. science) forming a contradiction in themselves against their dynamic nature. Then there's the Nephandi, the depths of depravity who would sell humanity out to Demons just for power. Since, by being a mage, you change reality with your beliefs just by existing, you're constantly violating general reality, you're always a little off even if you can avoid those three disastrous paths above.
- Hunter: The Reckoning: You are a normal guy who realizes that humanity is just the playthings of vampires, werewolves, fairies, zombies, etc, and always has been since the dawn of time. Of course, the voices in your head telling you this is the truth doesn't exactly help.
- The Unspeakable, from the Magic the Gathering Kamigawa block vignettes.
- Appears (appropriately enough) in Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game). Actually, the entire game is pretty much one long string of madness-inducing revelations, and the goal is to maintain your slipping hold on sanity for as long as possible. One edition of the rulebook even joked about it: "The only game where the big prize for finishing an adventure is a moldy old book which, when read, causes your face to melt off."
- Cthulhu Tech, on the other hand, plays with this. Reading arcane texts, for example, can slowly drive you over the brink, as you'd expect exposure to the Necronomicon would. So does exposure to god-like aliens or their avatars or anything else that every natural law is struggling against. Realizing that the Doahanoids you vaporized with a charge cannon weren't isn't good for your grip on reality, either. However, since the Japanese Media Tropes the game adds to the Mythos call for a certain level of idealism, society at large is entirely aware of these effects, and There Are Therapists to reduce or eliminate the dementia characters gain.
- The Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) adventure "City Beneath the Sands" actually turns this trope against the Eldritch Abomination. If the heroes fail to prevent the bad guys from linking their sleeping god-alien's mind with the collective subconscious of human dreamers everywhere, it's the god that goes mad, overwhelmed by contact with millions of human psyches (which are just as disturbing to it as vice versa). Sleepers worldwide just mainline Nightmare Fuel for a night.
- Many people who encounter the daemons of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000, especially the daemons of Nurgle. The Chosen of Chaos Archaon is also rumored to have gone mad from reading a prophecy about Chaos' victory.
- Archaon was a templar of Sigmar who read a forbidden manuscript and went batshit after learning the truth about the Gods including his own Sigmar.
- The past three editions of the Eldar codex have all contained the following quote:
Inquisitor Czevach: Ask not the Eldar a question for they will give you three answers, all of which are true and terrifying to know.
- The Madness Meters of Unknown Armies have many varieties of ways to show how a multitude of stressful experiences, among them anything dealing with the supernatural, can either harden you into a sociopath or drive you insane.
- Victoriana demonologists have a spell that can expose the recipient to all the beauty of Entropy in two seconds. The recipient invariably goes mad (at least temporarily).
- In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Tobias Ragg goes insane upon finding out just what Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett have been getting up to in the evil basement (in particular what is actually in the pies he's been eating). By the time he gets out of the basement, his hair has gone completely white and he eventually slits the title character's throat with his own razor before proceeding to continue to turn the crank on the grinder. In the film version, the killing sequence is more of a calm Tranquil Fury than anything else.
- A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley rapes Blanche in an attempt to invoke Rape as Redemption, but Blanche, who's already a little nutty, has a total breakdown instead and falls into permanent insanity. It really is as heartbreaking and disturbing as it sounds.
- Hamlet: The eponymous character is sent awry by being told that his uncle had killed his father, by the ghost of his father. Hamlet himself believes he is merely pretending to be mad but it is made clear to the audience that he is no longer playing with a full deck.
- Not really. It's never made clear if Hamlet really is mad or just pretending to be for his own purposes. He becomes far more lucid when he's either alone or with only Horatio. In any case, people have been debating on the subject for several hundred years, and are still doing so today.
- Oedipus Rex discovers that he's sleeping with his mother. He then cuts out his eyes.
- Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game): Shadow of the Comet begins with the scientist Lord Boleskin going bat-shit insane after making a discovery in the Town with a Dark Secret, Illsmouth. As mentioned in the trope description though, this being a Lovecraftian tale it's all par for the course.
- In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth Jack is subjected to a series of revelations driving him more and more insane, culminating in him committing suicide in a mental institute after discovering that his father was possessed by a Yithian when he was conceived, making him not quite human
- Maximillian Roivas from Eternal Darkness. He's committed after learning that his mansion is actually built over a Cosmic Horror's city and murdering his servants due to his belief that they're all infected with Body Horrors. Most of them actually are. Since the game is directly based on Lovecraft's work, insanity due to revelations is a fairly major theme.
- Additionally, Alex's sanity meter is set to a lower point every time you finish a chapter. Most cases of lost Sanity are an inversion of the trope though, happening when you're discovered rather than from learning anything.
- In Neopets, a Neopian called Eliv Thade was driven mad from a book of unsolvable riddles. He died, and now his ghost speaks only in anagrams. (You know, "Evil Death"?)
- Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. After finding out that he was born as part of an experiment to produce people with the power of an ancient civilization that was destroyed. That just emotionally unhinges him, though. What really ticks him off is that the ancestors of modern humans survived by hiding and letting them get eradicated.
- It probably didn't help either when he somehow learned that the "ancient" that was used to clone him was actually the alien who wiped them out...
- Or that his own father was the one who performed the experiments on him. That's while Sephiroth was still inside his mother.
- The Old Gods' Black Speech in World of Warcraft can invoke madness on those who hear them for prolonged periods. Not just to story character, sometimes to the players as well that need a bit of Percussive Maintenance to snap them out.
- Unfortunately, this method does not work on Deathwing, formerly known as Neltharion, probably because he's been mad for 10,000 years thanks to the Old Gods, and a knock on the head won't cure that.
- The Twilight Prophet, aka Archbishop Benedictus, leader of the Church of the Holy Light, apparently snapped and joined the Twilight's Hammer after reading a prophecy of the Old Gods' victory.
Archbishop Benedictus: I looked into the eyes of the dragon... and despaired.
- Prince LaCroix in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines should the PC take the Anarch or Lone Wolf paths: after spending the entire game hunting for the Ankaran Sarcophagus in the hope that there'd be a sleeping Antediluvian inside to steal ultimate power from, he finally opens it, only to find a large supply of C4 — with a timer set to detonate in ten seconds. Very slowly, Lacroix begins to chuckle, which rises to laughter, and finally to utterly hysterical cackling before the entire penthouse suite explodes.
- Albedo from Xenosaga. He was always a high-strung kid, but the cracks begin to show when he finds out that he is immortal, but his (formerly conjoined) twin brother, whom he depends on completely for emotional support is not.
- I'm practicing so that when they die, I won't cry.
- On the other hand, it's entirely possible that his worldview would make a hell of a lot of sense if we could grasp what it's like to be immortal.
- Another part is when he came into direct contact with U-DO. If Albedo didn't go nuts from the aforementioned, this sure as hell did.
- U-DO period. What happens when a a curious extra-dimensional god-thing is picking your brain for why your species is unknowingly trying to destroy the universe over and over again, and accidentally shows you what the end of all reality looks like ? This trope.
- In Neverwinter Nights, Aribeth has gone quite mad from the revelation that she never loved Fenthick, and on top of that that Tyr has abandoned her. You have the option of trying to bring her back (which proves the second 'truth' false), or pushing her further into despair if you feel like being a Jerkass.
- In La-Mulana, players may experience this upon discovering the SKIMPY SWIMSUIT.
- And the game knows it, too. To elaborate, the treasure at the end of the infamous Hell Temple is a "Forbidden treasure that may not be looked at or used". It's not kidding, the treasure for defeating the horribly hard Hell Temple is the Skimpy Swimsuit. The last room foreshadows this, asking if there is truly anything that could make you regret your long journey through Hell Temple. The treasure has no use, and doesn't appear in your inventory...and that would be awful enough, if not for the fact that it shows you a picture of your character wearing it. Your male character. Screams of horror will ensue.
- Wallachia in Melty Blood went insane when he learned that nothing could avert the doom of mankind, only make it worse. To try and get around that he made a deal with a Dead Apostle to became a conceptual being for more time to find a solution. His insanity only got worse from there, eventually becoming a horrible raging unkillable monster. Crosses over with Despair Event Horizon, and it's alluded to that insanity is the eventual fate of all alchemists who try to calculate a future too far ahead.
- Much of the reason people watch Let's Plays of games like I Wanna Be the Guy is to watch the player go slowly insane. They often swear a lot too but as time goes on, they begin shouting increasingly random things. Here's a good example "Maybe it's about as funny as going to Texas to fish for Vampires."
- In Star Control II, if you explore the Ghost Planet of the extinct Androsynth, Science Officer Bukowski will find out the hard way that These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. It's very creepy for such a funny game.
- Fou-lu in Breath of Fire IV is a textbook example of what happens when this occurs to a literal God-Emperor. He is summoned, split in the process due to a botched summoning, wakes up 600 years later to find the very empire he founded is attempting to kill him, has said empire fire a literal Curse Nuke called the Carronade at him in an effort to destroy him, and finally discovers the ammo for aforementioned Carronade was his girlfriend who was herself tortured to insanity before being used as a Tactical Thermonuclear Peasant... because she was in love with him and the curse would go just that much deeper. To say he takes this last discovery poorly is quite an understatement.
- Part of the point and appeal of Interactive Fiction title Slouching Towards Bedlam. This means that typing "jump out of window" as your first command is an entirely viable way to "win" the game. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Invoked in the venerable Chrono Trigger. The "Confuse" status effect causes the character to go Laughing Mad, so it's really not surprising that any monster related to the game's Big Bad, the Cosmic Horror known as Lavos, can and will inflict this status with any of its attacks unless you've equipped items that prevent it.
- Subverted in the third season of Sam and Max Freelance Police. Sam must travel through a dark dimension in search of a puzzle solution. He doesn't come back all there, but he gets over it in about half-a-minute.
- Also subverted when the pair meet face to face with actual Eldritch Abominations but don't really seem to react adversely. They're even on good terms with one.
- In Assassin's Creed 2, Altaïr notes in the Codex that many would-be Assassins could not accept the Badass Creed - Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. - and were mentally broken for it.
- The reason why Sibrand cracked. The Reveal about the afterlife by the Piece of Eden turned Sibrand scared-shitless of death. His fears became even worse when Altair was after him. Everything that wore white and hoddy clothes would be immediatly killed by him, even if they were obviously just scholars and not assassins.
- It's up for debate which drove Subject 16 insane first - being kept in the Animus for unhealthy amounts of time, being forced to relive dozens of people's lives and not being able to keep their memories, or his own, straight, or discovering the truth behind almost every conspiracy out there.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East, Archbishop Alaric goes in a total breakdown when fake Queen Isabel loses her disguise and turns into the demon Biara in front of him.
- Jump too high or go too far off course in SSX Tricky, and the music is replaced with an unhinged voice that whispers disquieting non-sequiturs ...
- According to the making-of book for Black and White, the true forms of both Good and Evil Gods cause this in the mortal beings of Eden. The player sees a hand (which becomes either godly or demonic depending on your actions), but everyone else simply sees a glowing symbol or a huge Creature doing your bidding.
- Meta-example: It's occasionally speculated that this is a likely side-effect of viewing the source code of Dwarf Fortress.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II, this is implied to be a side-effect of being in the Sith Lord DarthNihilus' presence for any significant period of time. The entire crew of The Ravager are mindless zombies who are incapable of any form of individual thought or anything outside of their duties on board the ship. When you encounter Colonel Tobin, the Smug Snake who shot down your freighter earlier in the game, on board Nihilus' ship he is a gibbering lunatic who looks like this and he begs you to end it all for him.
- Corpse Party has the characters stumble upon a smeared corpse. You find Sakutarou Morishige, who appeared normal up to that point blushing and gushing over it, taking pictures with his cell phone. Then it's revealed that the body belongs to Mayu Suzumoto, who was like a sister to him. To say he didn't take it well is an understatement.
- In Mass Effect, it has been suggested that this is the reason Manuel (the researcher's assistant on Eden Prime) is so unstable. He used the Prothean Beacon accidentally (or intentionally) before either Shepard or Saren, thus getting hit with the full effect of the Prothean's warning about the Reapers, which, according to Liara, would have "destroyed a lesser mind" than Shepard's.
- Readers of the eponymous Elder Scrolls whose knowledge doesn't go much further than what the Scrolls really are, usually have their minds irreparably damaged from simply looking at one. Even those who've had training to actually read and understand a Scroll have odd personalities.
- A reader without comprehension is dazed or stunned by the twisting patterns. One who can comprehend but isnt mentally prepared is struck blind. Even those with training slowly lose their vision. Eventually all readers recieve nothing from the scroll but a fortelling that if they read again, whatever they may learn, they will also go utterly blind. The monk either then resignes or prepares his mind to recieve the mind-blasting knowledge of his final reading.
- Homestuck has one when John realizes what his father really is...
- And again when he finds out that Gushers are made by Betty Crocker. Subverted, though. THIS IS STUPID.
- After asking an omniescent cueball about whether the horrorterrors are good or evil, Rose goes grimdark. The scariest part is that we never get to see the answer ourselves. Again, it's shown to be subverted when she arrives on Skaia - she's still herself, (probably) sane and responds positively to meeting John, but she is far more aggressive and can only speak in incomprehensible Black Speech. After she dies and is revived on Derse, she returns to normal.
- The datasphere in 8-Bit Theater. Once Red Mage and Thief concluded that reading it would drive a normal man insane and an insane man normal, (or kill him,) they decided to try it on Black Mage. Once he was incapacitated, they called Fighter over...
- Who is totally fine. He even understood that the six hundred and twelve-dimensional sphere contained information concerning "every possible way to build any possible device to destroy every possible thing in all creation."
- While it did shut down his higher brain functions for some time, Black Mage snapped out of his condition pretty fast. For the record, Black Mage's face, currently hidden in the shadow of his hat, made Onion Kid go into a coma. He later said it felt like everything good was gone from the world...
- And lately, Red Mage got the idea of using the datasphere to learn how to destroy the monster currently inside himself, as it threatens to take over his body.
- Hilariously, the result was the death of the monster. And Red Mage was fine. If that makes sense, recall that Red Mage was the monster. Oh, and he might be catatonic.
- In Narbonic, this is how the Science-Related Memetic Disorder finally manifests itself.
- The Order of the Stick features "The mysterious Vaarsuvius, keeper of a thousand arcane secrets. And each one would drive you MAD! MAD!" Note that V tends to boast.
- Captain SNES: The entire series is about video game characters finding out their lives are simply video games, and their sorrows and such are for our amusement. They don't take it well.
- We are all made of CORN!!!!!!! [dead link]
- Jack Hyland in Gunnerkrigg Court. They had the bad fortune to get caught in Zimmy's nightmare world when she had a psychic freak-out, ending up alone and unheard by the any of the others also caught in it. Although they weren't there long, it did not affect their mental state very well.
- Though being possessed by an etheric spider might have had more to do with it.
- Checkboard Nightmare had the minor character Shrodinger the Cat, who could see every possible reality simultaneously and was, naturally, driven insane by the information overload.
- The Batman and Robin episode of The Nostalgia Critic has him going Ax Crazy after he watches a scene where Batman pulls out a "bat-credit card", and another person had to come in and restrain him for several hours. He manages to compose himself twice, but is immediately set off again when he mentions the card.
- The Tom and Jerry movie review has him reiterating to the viewers the basics of a particular scene: "A cat and mouse are driving a ship trying to save the daughter of Indiana Jones while being chased by a purple people eater, a dog on a skateboard, a performing ship captain, his handpuppet Squawk, two Mexican wrestlers, and a doctor riding an ice-cream cart. Ladies and gentlemen, WELCOME TO THE MIND FUCK." Cue footage of the chase scene interspersed with clips of the Nostalgia Critic going bananas while Flagpole Sitta plays in the background and a big red "MIND FUCK!" flashes on the screen.
- In the TMNT movies reviews, he tried to stay positive on the first and second movies, but still gives out negative responses. He tried to hope that the third movie, which even The Angry Video Game Nerd declares to be awful (he considered the first and second decent), will turn out good... then '5 minutes later'... we see him cuddling around in the bathroom, bawling incoherently, followed with much more Freak-Out and inventing the word horrifuckus, after the revelation that the movie was really really... bad.
- In a scene similar to the Tom and Jerry incident, one of the last moments in the Jingle All the Way review has NC explaining that the movie simply doesn't care anymore after Arnold gets a jetpack and starts doing silly CGI stunts. He then says, "You know what they say... if you can't beat 'em... join them." Then comes the insanity, the flashing "WE DON'T CARE!", and "Playmate, Come out and Play With Me" playing in the background.
- Linkara, the Critic's comic-reading counterpart, has a couple moments like these, which he once referred to as "Combine Harvester" moments, after the music that plays in the background. The first was when he read fanmail to Doom's IV that said that Rob Liefeld was a genius. The second one was when he discovers that Amazons Attack was technically a tie-in to Countdown.
- While hers are much milder than her Spear Counterpart's, The Nostalgia Chick has had a few of her own; most recently in Freddy Got Fingered where she, her friend Nella and co-reviewer Oancitizen have a "going mad montage" involving screaming, sausage and mayonnaise.
- When Obscurus Lupa can't work out the deeper meaning of MC Kung Fu's lyrics in 'City Dragon', she employs Kyle to work it out for her. After watching the film, Kyle starts spouting lines from the film out of context, gradually descending into madness.
Kyle: I can't speak the English language anymore! God help me!
- Kyle himself has had a few incidents of this in his own show, Brows Held High. In particular, there was the "if you can't beat 'em..." segment at the end of the What is it? review, and the Psychic Nosebleed and subsequent Unstoppable Rage he had after keeping his cool through most of A Serbian Film.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd himself gets one after hearing Zelda's Bond One-Liner in The Wand of Gamelon.
- In another James Rolfe-related video series called Shit Pickle, the monkey father from Munky Cheez 2 (yet another video series) goes mad after his kids keep saying "monkey cheese" over and over while watching the original, and those two words are all that the monkey dad can say from then on. Watch it here.
- Inferno of WALLE Forum Role Play may count?, as she's more of a case of Go Even More Mad From The Revelation...
- Once of the consequences of reading a good book discussed here. If knowing the unknowable is crazy I don't want to be sane.
- In Shell, this is what happens to people when they look at the Eldritch Abomination.
- Looking at Tren Krom may cause this in Bionicle.
- Visions of The Presence from Nine Inch Nails' "Year Zero" ARG can cause anything from euphoria to madness.
- Happens from time to time in the Whateley Universe because it is so near Lovecraft Country. When a demon manifests a small part of itself in downtown Los Angeles, Phase is the only witness (for more than a second or so) who doesn't go insane, and he requires psychic intervention and psychiatric therapy. The demon eats or kills the other witnesses.
- The DCAU has many villains that were driven to crime because of the horrible circumstances forced upon them (Clayface, Parasite, etc.) but only one character seems to snap purely because of the knowledge he has received: The Question. When he cracks the Project Cadmus secret files and learns of the overthrow of the government of a parallel world and the ever-increasing likelihood that our Superman will likewise kill the president and instigate a worldwide catastrophe he loses it, begins to mumble incoherently to himself, and eventually tries to kill Lex Luthor himself so that Superman will never have the chance. Things go downhill from there.
- This is parodied in a The Simpsons Halloween Special based on Night Gallery, in which Bart promises that a story based on a particular painting was so terrifying that it would instantly drive people mad. "..but it was far too intense. So we just threw something together with vampires. Enjoy!"
Homer: It's dogs! And they're playing poker! AAAAAHHHH!!!
- On one episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the villain loses it when he realizes he's just been defeated by chipmunks.
- Batman the Brave And The Bold—In "Deep Cover for Batman!", Batman's only ally in this reversed dimension, Red Hood, is being questioned and tortured. We learn that he was disfigured by being thrown into a vat of chemicals by this universe's version of Batman. Sure enough, we see him look in a mirror, get a glimpse of green hair and bleached skin—and hear a truly maniacal laugh start to rise. Averted when he grabs a chair and smashes the mirror, presumably at the last minute he could retain his sanity. What made this so effective? Really, it's the voice actor—that laugh is as scary as anything Jeff Bennett ever unleashed.
- Turtles Forever—As The Shredder surveys The Multiverse, he discovers that each of its infinite worlds contains its own group of Turtles, a revelation that causes him to hatch a plan to destroy it all—even if it kills him in the process.
- Toy Story—Buzz Lightyear ends up doing this after discovering he is indeed only a toy and not an Intergalactic Space Ranger as he previously believed. He snaps out of it later, though.
- And in Toy Story 3, Lotso endures a long and grueling journey back to Daisy's house, only to discover that he had been replaced. As Chuckles puts it, "Something changed inside him that day. Something snapped."
- The titular Ren from The Ren and Stimpy Show often went completely insane in various episodes leading to much Nightmare Fuel. Two notable example of this came at the end of "Svën Höek" where Ren completely lost it upon finding out what a mess Stimpy and Sven made in his house and the episode "Stimpy's Fan Club" at the end of which he contemplated strangling Stimpy in his sleep.
- This happens rather frequently with Ren:
- In "Hermit Ren," he gets so sick of Stimpy he leaves to join a hermit guild. They provide him with a cave and a boulder to lock him in forever. Completely alone. It doesn't take long for him to lose his mind. He gets kicked out for creating imaginary friends.
- His Recycled in Space counterpart goes insane in "Space Madness" when, confined to a spaceship on a long mission, he is deprived of all contact besides Cadet Stimpy. Interestingly Stimpy does absolutely nothing to instigate this as the only bit of mischief he causes in this episode occurs after Ren is long gone.
- Ren goes more than a little nuts at the end of "Farm Hands" when he thinks he and Stimpy are the last survivors after a devastating tornado. However, it turns out the farm's cow also survive (and took a dump on them).
- Ren and Stimpy both slowly lose their sanity in "Big Flakes" while they're trapped in the cabin.
- In the episode of the Powerpuff Girls which deals with Mojo Jojo's origin, he is shocked to discover that prior to gaining his intelligence, he caused Professor Utoninum to hit the container of Chemical X that poured into his 'Perfect Little Girl Formula' resulting in the birth of the Powerpuff Girls. He is so shocked that he continuously mumbles "It was me?"
- Also to point out, since it was the blast the girls were born from that transformed Mojo and gave him his intellect, it can be pointed out that he also caused his own origin.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Jimmy finding that the horrible episode was All Just a Dream...until he realizes he just fainted and the situation is, indeed, as bad as it was. This happens several times until he's reduced to a blabbering mess.
- Averted in The Real Ghostbusters episode, "The Collect Call of Cthulhu." The guys lay eyes on Cthulhu himself... and aren't driven to madness. Word of God reasoned that it's because the Ghostbusters encounter horrifying things on a regular basis.
- The Animaniacs short "Wally Llama" has the eponymous llama, who claimed to know the answer to every question, go crazy when he realises he doesn't know why it's 8 hot dogs to a pack but 10 hot dog buns. Admittedly, the seven minutes of harassment by the Warners prior to this probably didn't help his psychological state.
- Freakazoid!'s origin has Dexter Douglas beamed into cyberspace after typing in a very specific line of code and exposed to the entirety of the internet. One can only imagine what would happen if he were exposed to the internet of today.
- In 1913, Igor Stravinsky debuted The Rite of Spring in Paris. The fantastically loud, dissonant music combined with violent ballet dancing made the audience start to riot. Recent neuropsychological research suggests that audience members were so angry because their brains had never heard anything like it before.
- Wikipedia says the way that is told was a ploy by Stravinsky and company to make the music seem more groundbreaking than it was. In actuality the riot was very slightly related to the atonal music than the beastly dancing. While both were pretty avant-garde at the time you must put yourself in the shoes of a conservative couple just wanting a quiet night watching a soothing ballet and be confronted with a monstrous performance (watch it on Youtube to get an idea). Compare it to paying to going to the cinema to watch the new Pixar flick and getting treated to three hours of 2 girls 1 cup. Some may be ticked off. Then again a small few will love it.
- It is generally forbidden to collect all of the Tales Of A Thousand And One Nights in one set, and not just because not only would it be pretty difficult to do so. According to legend, reading them all in one sitting will make whoever does so go mad from the sheer majesty of it.
- Either that or simply your brain would short out from lack of sleep. Seriously, a thousand and one tales with a narrative thread that connects them would be a LOT of reading for a single sitting.
- Paul Cohen said that he suspected that this had happened to Kurt Gödel, that his discoveries in logic caused him to have paranoid delusions later in life.
- Georg Cantor spent years obsessively studying orders of infinity, and died in an insane asylum for his troubles.
- Though the accepted explanation is that his mental problems were more caused by being a pariah in the math community for his theories, due to Leopold Kronecker's (who was arguably the most powerful German mathematician at the time) distaste for everything but whole numbers. Still, 'Go Mad From Your Boss Being A Jerk' doesn't have the same ring to it.
- Some studies show that extreme pessimists have the most realistic grasp of their abilities, place in the world, and the probability of something happening. And they're most likely to be seriously clinically depressed. (Of course, other studies show the opposite.)
- Most of the difference depends on what questions you ask. If it's something that people, in general, are overly optimistic about (e.g. Wide-Eyed Idealist) the pessimists will be accurate. If it's something that people are overly paranoid about, (risk of death in a terror attack) the pessimists will be inaccurate.
- The sad story of George Price, who used several mathematical and biological models to derive a mathematical equation that predicted that altruistic behavior and kindness do not actually come from true selflessness and concern for others, but are only naturally selected in order to promote one's own genetic heritage (people are more likely to be altruistic towards individuals with more similar genetic makeup, which explains why people often care more about their family than others). This theory predicts that there is no inherent selflessness in humans, and the altruistic acts are actually evolutionarily self-serving. Unable to accept such discovery, Price decided to randomly perform altruistic acts, which led him to give away most his possessions. When he was broke and kicked out of his rented house, he decided to take his own life. People said it was because of his despondency over his inability to continue helping the homeless.
- Doubly sad in that further studies about animals and the non-blood-related bonds they form to some extent disprove this. Which is worse, what he did to himself because of this, or that his premise was wrong in the first place and all this was entirely unnecessary?
- Some have tried to poetically paint Friedrich Nietzsche this way. It sounds good: "He got so close to the Truth, a Truth he didn't believe in!" or something like that. He would have probably disagreed very much, being quite the despiser of any clichéd thought, but who knows? He really did pump out quite a few writings in the 1880s, and yet was very definitely insane by the end of that decade. Ultimately he succumbed to the brain disease that ailed him (identified as syphilis at the time, but whatever it was, it was there).
- It's unlikely (though hardly impossible) it was syphilis; most reliable accounts him having sex at most twice in his life. More likely he just went plain old crazy.
- Considering that one of the stories is that he had his collapse because he saw a horse being beaten (and he actually was very interested in horses) makes the poetry of this trope fall apart of Nietzsche.
- Hallucinogenic or disassociative drugs have the potential to cause feelings of this; with some individuals, permanent psychosis can result.
- While not exactly "mad", Scientologists contend that anyone who reads the Xenu story without proper preparation (i.e., $200,000 in "donations") will become physically and mentally weakened. This may have something to do with a kind of "shock treatment" backfire similar to the VR in 20th Century Boys.
- This damn website.
- Especially the Wild Mass Guessing page.
- Wikipedia. Some pages aren't for the meek of the psyche, such as, say, the aptly-titled Ultimate Fate of the Universe.
- Possibly Buckminster-Fuller.
- The Unabomber, after his Hannibal Lecture in the CIA's Project MKULTRA.
- The sheer size of the Universe can drive people mad, as a certain unfortunate monk experienced it.
- Certainly creates a that "Whoah!" effect where you want to stop thinking about it. Just for example, watch this video of star size comparison: Link
- Some speculate this was the reason Nicolay Gogol burned the second and third volumes of "Dead Souls".