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Damsel in Distress

Targaryen Madness is an Exaggeration

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3 hours ago, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

I enjoyed your essay and you made a lot of fair points.  Madness do run in the Targaryen family but it is not exclusive to them.  Look at Lysa Arryn and Robin Arryn.  Lysa is clearly mental.  I thank you for pointing out that Jon is as likely to go mad as any Targaryen.  I looked up the Targaryen family tree this morning and your observations are on point.  The males carry the madness gene and by eliminating them from the breeding pool you restart the Targaryen family with a clean slate.  The term "Mother of Dragons" have multiple meanings and I like it. 

Robert Arryn is a spoiled brat who also has health problems, and Lysa experienced sever mental and physical trauma. They have definite issues, but neither is on par with the Targ madness in the series. There is no reason to suspect that Targaryen women don't also carry the madness genes.

2 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Dany is only presumed to be mentally stable because we never get an external POV of her. If, for example, we had a Jorah POV, and he watched her walk into the pyre rather than us reading it from her perspective, it wouldn't be a leap in logic to assume that she went mad with grief. Especially if her plan failed as so many Targ dragon rebirth attempts have. Dany has a tendancy to make huge decisions based on her dreams rather than on sound logic, experience, careful planning, or the counsel of her advisors. How long before we get an external POV, and we see that some characters do view her as mad? 

 

Barristan isn't an external POV on Dany? She's presumed to be mentally stable because as yet she hasn't shown any signs of insanity.

She comes from a long line of people who have prophetic dreams that always come true, so that's really a lot more logical than you're making it out to be.

2 hours ago, Mr. Bowen Marsh said:

NightA lot of the accusations of madness could be political propaganda or simply regular people not understanding special abilities.  If Bran had told the Greatjon that he kept hearing the voice of a funky Raven with three eyes and one thousand, the big man would think him mad. 

I don't think Viserys was mad.    He just had a traumatic childhood.  He lost his home, his family, and his place in the world.   He's no different from Arya in that regards.  

The text indicates that Viserys was showing mini-Aerys tendencies in childhood before he experienced any traumas. And his mother did her best to keep him way from his father, so it's not likely he was just patterning after the old man.

Arya seems to have PTSD, but she's still a rational person who can understand things like another culture's customs, and why it would be a bad idea to threaten the wife and child of a guy who makes a living warring, raping, and pillaging.

Dany had a traumatic childhood too but she's not crazy.

Viserys goes way beyond just psychic and emotional trauma. He's nuts.

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I've tossed around the idea that the lack of the dragons caused many Targaryens to go mad. Aerion and Aerys II clearly had issues because they had visions/dreams/delusions about this whole blood of the dragon thing. I doubt either of them would have wanted to transform himself into a living dragon if he had actually been a dragonrider.

There is something in the Targaryen blood that *wants* to bond with a dragon, and if it can't that's not healthy for the person.

We also have the hints that bonding with a dragon actually can improve your (mental) health. Aenys I grows stronger and more healthy after he bonds with Quicksilver as a toddler.

Prior to the Dance we actually have just two somewhat unbalanced Targaryens - Maegor the Cruel (who may have been severely twisted by his very birth) and Prince Daemon. Afterwards things go somewhat down the hill with the extreme guys - we have Daeron I, Baelor I, Aegon IV, Aerys I, Rhaegel, Aerion, and Aerys II.

I agree with you. Another factor could be that knowing their family once had the most powerful weapons in the world because of their blood, and now they have to bend to vassals might make them resentful and a bit unhinged. I think thats the case with Aerion. 

It would be tough knowing that you used to have the exclusive power to level cities but now have to rely on your vassals for troops. 

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We also have to acknowledge that, because of how much power a monarch wields (or is thought to wield, whatever the case may actually be), a monarch (particularly a young one) doesn't have the same restraints that a lesser person does. Thus they are capable of committing more extreme behaviour and getting away with it. And someone who realises that there is no restraint on him/her may very well commit the kinds of actions that could earn a person the moniker of 'mad' even though they may actually be mentally stable, albeit extremely cruel. And of course, unrestricted power could probably lead someone to madness.

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4 hours ago, Widowmaker 811 said:

 

Does Bowen Marsh express concern that Jon is mentally incompetent, or does he just disagree with his ideas? We've only had 3 POVs from Barristan, and we've never had a POV of his while he is interacting with her. We have no idea what his immediate reactions to her are. 

And, yeah. For the vast majority of mad Targs, all we have to go on is third person testimony. I'm not sure why you're disputing that?

And sure. The OP has indeed made an interesting observation, but the conclusion is not a given. Between the two, Dany is known to have dragon dreams -- which is what caused the mental health issues in at least two of Maekar's kids, if not three. She has displayed needless extreme and brutal cruelty, even if said cruelty tends to be reactive. She displays concern over prophecy and begins to exhibit mild paranoid tendencies. These are just not elements of Jon's arc, unless you want to equate Jon beheading Janos Slynt and throwing a couple of guys into ice cells as absolutely equivalent to Dany publicly torturing 300 people to death. While Jon absolutely may begin to struggle with his mental health in the future, especially considering recent events, we have no reason to believe that he'll go nuts based on what we've seen of him in the past 5 books. While it also isn't a given that Dany will go mad -- and I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't -- to assume automatically that female Targs cannot have mental health issues just because there is no concrete historical precedent is a pretty big leap, especially considering that there are elements in Dany's arc that are attributed to the mental health issues of her predecessors. 

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1 hour ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

And sure. The OP has indeed made an interesting observation, but the conclusion is not a given. Between the two, Dany is known to have dragon dreams -- which is what caused the mental health issues in at least two of Maekar's kids, if not three.

In her case those dreams came true as she dreamed them. She dreamed about hatching a dragon egg and she did hatch a dragon egg. That is a prophecy/dream come true, not a symptom of madness. Just as Aerys II and Aerion wouldn't have been judged mad had they transformed themselves into a living dragon.

By the way, we should also count Aegon V among the mad Targaryen monarchs because his attempt to hatch dragon eggs at Summerhall clearly would be seen by the people in Westeros as a symptom of madness regardless how he himself saw it.

1 hour ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

She has displayed needless extreme and brutal cruelty, even if said cruelty tends to be reactive.

In the society she lives in cruelty is neither extreme nor needless and essentially cannot be cruel enough. Crucifixion isn't a particularly cruel means of execution. Being burned or cooked alive should be worse, as should be the breaking wheel or impaling. Not to mention being confined to a crow cage until you are dead.

The way things are presented in Meereen very much implies that every member of the Great Masters is guilty, period. They all share in the rule of the city and they all are slavers who most definitely have either personally brutalized slaves or have had their underlings do it for them.

As to Viserys, I'm still not sure what Barristan's criteria to judge mental heath are. Viserys was basically just an ordinary guy with delusions of grandeur who had succumbed to paranoia and could not cope with the stress his lifestyle put on him.

When he dies we really see what he was about the entire time. The man would never have been a great king but he would have been very happy had been allowed to sit the Iron Throne of his father and he would not have become a cruel tyrant (like Joffrey clearly was about to become). With a good Hand Viserys III could even have become one of the better Targaryen kings, certainly better than Robert, Aegon IV, Maegor the Cruel, Aegon IV, etc.

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17 hours ago, Damsel in Distress said:

My verdict?  Jon has a much greater chance of going mad than Daenerys.

I'm sold.  You get your point across like a boss.  I admired your post last month on Jon's bastardry.  I like this one even better.  I look forward to your future postings.

16 hours ago, Damsel in Distress said:

Targaryen Madness is an Exaggeration

 

 

The prevalence of the madness that runs in the family is exaggerated.  A careful study of the Targaryen lineage shows that this madness is not as prevalent as critics would have us believe. 

 

  • Targaryen + Targaryen = Maegor the Cruel
  • Arryn + Targaryen = Rhaenyra
  • Hightower + Targaryen = Aegon II
  • Rogare + Targaryen = Aegon IV
  • Velaryon + Targaryen = Baelor the Blessed
  • Dayne + Targaryen = Aerion Brightflame
  • Kiera + Targaryen = Vaela
  • Targaryen + Targaryen = Aerys II

 

Underlined - female parent.

 

Italics – unclear whether these people were mad or simply just cruel. Vaela is likely someone who just had a below average mental capacity. 

 

What interests me most is that the majority of the “mad” members of the family were not the direct result of T + T but rather the result of what appears to be normal pairings.  A second item of note is that the madness happens more often when the mother comes from outside the family.  This can mean that the carriers of the madness are the male Targaryens.  Thirdly, because we are dealing with a fantasy world in which real genetics may not completely hold true, we can safely assume that anyone whose father is a Targaryen will have an equal chance of going mad as any other member of the family with a Targaryen father.  Notice also that we have not had a female Targaryen of whom we can clearly point out as mad.  None.  Alright, Rhaenyra was a b* but being a difficult person does not make one mad.  Maegor was a cruel ass but that doesn’t mean he was mad.   

 

Probable implications are as follows:

 

  1. The Targaryens are the most prominent family in the whole of A Song of Ice and Fire.  I do not believe George R R Martin will end this family line.  I think the family just needed a fresh start and based on my theory that the males carry the potentially damaging gene it makes sense to eliminate the male line and begin anew with a Targaryen female.  Who is, of course, the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen.
  2. The Targaryen dragons also needed a refresh.  The Mother of Dragons delivers once more and hatched three eggs. 
  3. Daenerys Targaryen is just fine.  She will not go mad.  Her future children are not going to go mad as long as she picks a non-Targaryen to father them.  
  4. Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon.  Should this theory of his parentage prove to be true, that Rhaegar is the father, it is very possible that it will be Jon who will go mad. 

 My verdict?  Jon has a much greater chance of going mad than Daenerys.  

  :):):)

I'm sold on your theory.  The males are the carriers of the madness gene and it is they who pass it on.  None of the Targaryen women have gone mad in 3 centuries.  A pairing of non-targ and a targ carries just as much, if not much more, risk than targ + targ.  Perhaps the Targaryen women carry a gene to lessen the chances of madness though it does not eliminate it completely. 

9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Aemma Arryn and Daenaera Velaryon both had Targaryen ancestors. And Larra Rogare has strong Valyrian looks, suggesting that she, too, has dragonlord ancestors.

There is also no reason to believe that the incest is causing madness. Rather that incest helps with ensuring the prevalent tendencies of madness in the Targaryen line were conserved and concentrated in the bloodline.

The Valyrians conquered most of western Essos and the Dragonlords ruled the largest empire ever known for 5,000 years.  They could not have accomplished that if madness was common.  I don't think there was anything wrong with Aemma and Daenera but rather the males.  Those women were not dragons and their offspring could not handle the "call of the dragons" invading their thoughts.  Even some male Targaryens surrendered to the madness when their mothers were Targaryens.  All the presence of this gene does is increase the chances of going mad. Having the gene doesn't mean the guy would go mad.   I suspect environmental stress and the "call of the dragons" could also provoke madness to those susceptible.

8 hours ago, Mr. Bowen Marsh said:

NightA lot of the accusations of madness could be political propaganda or simply regular people not understanding special abilities.  If Bran had told the Greatjon that he kept hearing the voice of a funky Raven with three eyes and one thousand, the big man would think him mad. 

I don't think Viserys was mad.    He just had a traumatic childhood.  He lost his home, his family, and his place in the world.   He's no different from Arya in that regards.  

I would say with confidence that Rickon is losing his mind to his wolf.  That's madness from a human perspective.  He's not strong enough and lost himself to his wolf.  Dragons are more powerful than wolves.  I suspect mentally in addition to physically.  It would take a strong mind to resist the "call of the dragons".

 

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It is interesting to see how people define madness. It seems to me that what would be considered normal behavior in anyone but a Targaryen is seen as "madness" by some. Anyhow, the main reason I came back to this thread was to share one of my favorite passages from the books, Aemon is speaking (AFFC-Chapter 26):
 

Quote

 

..."I remember, Sam. I still remember."

He is not making sense. "Remember what?"

"Dragons," Aemon whispered. "The grief and glory of my House, they were."

"The last dragon died before you were born," said Sam. "How could you remember them?"

"I see them in my dreams, Sam. I see a red star bleeding in the sky. I still remember red. I see their shadows on the snow, hear the crack of leathern wings, feel their hot breath. My brothers dreamed of dragons too, and the dreams killed them, every one. Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend ... or ..."

"Or?" said Sam.

"... or not." Aemon chuckled softly. "Or I am an old man, feverish and dying."

 

Argh! It pisses me off when people tell me that AFFC can't be my favorite book with great stuff like this in it.

Anyway, back on topic. I believe that dragons were magically created to counter the threat of the Others returning. The dragons were then bonded with riders through the use of blood magic. The bonding went both ways with the riders being just as firmly attached to the dragons. Also, to make sure the riders had some idea what they needed to do the prophecy was also seared into their psyches. This is why the Targaryens after the loss of the dragons were so desperate to get them back. Before the Doom of Valyria the Targaryens were not the only ones like themselves. If Victarion is successful in his use of the dragon horn, then Greyjoys  may be able to ride dragons. It seems families are bonded to dragons, not just individuals. Otherwise, only people of Targaryen heritage will be able to ride dragons.

Some people may consider this drive to "complete their mission" as madness in the Targaryens, however, I see Aemon as proof that these thoughts and feelings didn't make a Targaryen automatically mad. I think it does give them their bad tempers. Think about when your thinking deeply about something and someone comes along and interrupts your thoughts. Don't you get annoyed?

With this drive running constantly in the background, anything added on top helps push Targaryens to the breaking point. How much pushing they can take depends on the individual. I have argued in the past that Aerys did not start out mad, but was driven mad by his political enemies. Pycelle totally gaslighted Aerys by killing his children. Anyhow, I think Viserys was a Targaryen who the dragons spoke to very little. He never actually thought about hatching the eggs, only selling them.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

In her case those dreams came true as she dreamed them. She dreamed about hatching a dragon egg and she did hatch a dragon egg. That is a prophecy/dream come true, not a symptom of madness. Just as Aerys II and Aerion wouldn't have been judged mad had they transformed themselves into a living dragon.

By the way, we should also count Aegon V among the mad Targaryen monarchs because his attempt to hatch dragon eggs at Summerhall clearly would be seen by the people in Westeros as a symptom of madness regardless how he himself saw it.

In the society she lives in cruelty is neither extreme nor needless and essentially cannot be cruel enough. Crucifixion isn't a particularly cruel means of execution. Being burned or cooked alive should be worse, as should be the breaking wheel or impaling. Not to mention being confined to a crow cage until you are dead.

The way things are presented in Meereen very much implies that every member of the Great Masters is guilty, period. They all share in the rule of the city and they all are slavers who most definitely have either personally brutalized slaves or have had their underlings do it for them.

As to Viserys, I'm still not sure what Barristan's criteria to judge mental heath are. Viserys was basically just an ordinary guy with delusions of grandeur who had succumbed to paranoia and could not cope with the stress his lifestyle put on him.

When he dies we really see what he was about the entire time. The man would never have been a great king but he would have been very happy had been allowed to sit the Iron Throne of his father and he would not have become a cruel tyrant (like Joffrey clearly was about to become). With a good Hand Viserys III could even have become one of the better Targaryen kings, certainly better than Robert, Aegon IV, Maegor the Cruel, Aegon IV, etc.

Right, what I'm saying is that these prophetic dreams seem to be common among Targaryens, which has often led to erratic, cruel, or dysfunctional behavior. For instance, Daeron had prophetic dreams that he could not interpret, nor mentally or emotionally process. This led to addiction, depression, and absolute dysfunction. I am not saying the dreams themselves are a symptom of insanity. I am saying they historically have led to behaviors that other characters have understood as madness, or they have led to legitimate mental health issues. These dreams may lead Dany down the same path, or they may not. How she reacts to them in the long run has yet to be revealed to us. They are, however, still an element in Dany's story, whereas they are not definitely an element in Jon's. Which is why I think the conclusion of the OP is off-base based on the text. 

(Additionally, Aegon V may have been driven mad. He may have also just made a tragic mistake. We don't know yet.) 

As for Dany's cruelty, you and I clearly fundamentally disagree on that. It's something that gets talked about endlessly on this forum, it's not a discussion I'm interested in repeating at length, so I'm just going to move past it.

I do think Viserys was... off. I happen to think that if an individual needs absolute power to maintain mental health, there's something very wrong with them. I have no idea exactly what the causes of his health issues were, but I don't think that the absence of the throne was one of them. He may have had a personality disorder or three, he may have had cognitive issues, he may have simply been frustrated to the point of cruel irrationality. I'm not sure. It's difficult to tell, given that we spent very little time with him. 

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The way things are presented in Meereen very much implies that every member of the Great Masters is guilty, period. They all share in the rule of the city and they all are slavers who most definitely have either personally brutalized slaves or have had their underlings do it for them.

Agree

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6 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

She comes from a long line of people who have prophetic dreams that always come true, so that's really a lot more logical than you're making it out to be.

Daena and Daeron are the only ones proven to have had prophetic dreams that came true. We have no evidence that their dreams always came true, just that they had dreams that were sometimes on point. The rest of the Targs either had dreams that were false, or prophetic dreams so misinterpreted that the results were incredibly, tragically disastrous. That's hardly a long line of people who are able and savvy prophets. Given the nature of Dany's decisions based on her dreams, and how high risk those decisions are, it is at the very least eyebrow raising that she would follow through given her family history. 

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9 minutes ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Daena and Daeron are the only ones proven to have had prophetic dreams that came true. We have no evidence that their dreams always came true, just that they had dreams that were sometimes on point. The rest of the Targs either had dreams that were false, or prophetic dreams so misinterpreted that the results were incredibly, tragically disastrous. That's hardly a long line of people who are able and savvy prophets. Given the nature of Dany's decisions based on her dreams, and how high risk those decisions are, it is at the very least eyebrow raising that she would follow through given her family history. 

Actually, Stannis has had a prophecy/foretelling/whatever you want to call it that has come true. He saw the battle on the Fist between the Nightswatch and the Others.

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Just now, bent branch said:

Actually, Stannis has had a prophecy/foretelling/whatever you want to call it that has come true. He saw the battle on the Fist between the Nightswatch and the Others.

Holy cow, really? I don't remember this at all. Source? 

Also, I don't know that Stannis counts as a Targ? I know he's a distant cousin, but at what point do we decide that they are no longer closely related enough to be counted as a Targaryen? 

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10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Aemma Arryn and Daenaera Velaryon both had Targaryen ancestors. And Larra Rogare has strong Valyrian looks, suggesting that she, too, has dragonlord ancestors.

There is also no reason to believe that the incest is causing madness. Rather that incest helps with ensuring the prevalent tendencies of madness in the Targaryen line were conserved and concentrated in the bloodline.

That's true, but at what point does the incest merely help ensure it and when does it become part of the root cause? The Hapsburgs and the Ptolemies are perfect examples of this. Ptolemaic dynasty had a ton of birth defects in their lines. The Spanish hapsburg had something like a 50% infant mortality rate after having ruled as long as the Targs. That's not to say that the Targs are indeed inherent to madness. They could merely just have weak personalities (if that's a thing?) and respond awfully to outside stress. When I look at the original list, I see a lot of people who might just come across as a little weird or just a giant asshole/sleazebag if they weren't a royal family member and only 2-3 that are really inherently "crazy"

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1 hour ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Holy cow, really? I don't remember this at all. Source? 

Also, I don't know that Stannis counts as a Targ? I know he's a distant cousin, but at what point do we decide that they are no longer closely related enough to be counted as a Targaryen? 

Well, how distantly related do you consider yourself to your grandparents? Stannis paternal grandmother was a Targaryen. I don't think that makes his relationship very distant at all.

Before I give the quote from ASOS about what it was that Stannis saw, I want to talk a little bit about the time frame of when Stannis saw this. Using the ASOIAF Timeline, the Battle of Blackwater took place on September 7th, the Battle of the Fist of the First Men took place on November 1st, and Stannis relates his vision to Davos on November 9th. So there is some chance that Stannis only saw the battle from a distance and not before hand. However, it is clear that Stannis had to receive his information supernaturally. Now for the quote, ASOS Chapter 36 (Davos 4):
 

Quote

 

"She has shown it to me, Lord Davos. In the flames."

"You saw it, sire?" It was not like Stannis Baratheon to lie about such a thing.

"With mine own eyes. After the battle, when I was lost to despair, the Lady Melisandre bid me gaze into the hearthfire. The chimney was drawing strongly, and bits of ash were rising from the fire. I stared at them, feeling half a fool, but she bid me look deeper, and ... the ashes were white, rising in the updraft, yet all at once it seemed as I they were falling. Snow, I thought. Then the sparks in the air seemed to circle, to become a ring of torches, and I was looking through the fire down on some high hill in a forest. The cinders had become men in black behind the torches, and there were shapes moving through the snow. For all the heat of the fire, I felt a cold so terrible I shivered, and when I did the sight was gone, the fire but a fire once again. But what I saw was real, I'd stake my kingdom on it."

 

So, there it is. Stannis Baratheon has a true supernatural vision. To me, Stannis' story stops being about the Iron Throne and becomes part of the larger story at this point. The "gift" of mystical visions is a Targaryen trait, not Baratheon one.

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2 minutes ago, bent branch said:

Well, how distantly related do you consider yourself to your grandparents? Stannis paternal grandmother was a Targaryen. I don't think that makes his relationship very distant at all.

Before I give the quote from ASOS about what it was that Stannis saw, I want to talk a little bit about the time frame of when Stannis saw this. Using the ASOIAF Timeline, the Battle of Blackwater took place on September 7th, the Battle of the Fist of the First Men took place on November 1st, and Stannis relates his vision to Davos on November 9th. So there is some chance that Stannis only saw the battle from a distance and not before hand. However, it is clear that Stannis had to receive his information supernaturally. Now for the quote, ASOS Chapter 36 (Davos 4):
 

So, there it is. Stannis Baratheon has a true supernatural vision. To me, Stannis' story stops being about the Iron Throne and becomes part of the larger story at this point. The "gift" of mystical visions is a Targaryen one, not Baratheon.

Given that Mel was present at Stannis' vision and he used her method of staring into the flames, I'm hesitant to think this can be credited to his Targ heritage. I'm fairly certain that Targs have only had premonitions through their dreams, and this was not a dream, nor was it necessarily prophetic. Because we don't know the exact date he saw the battle at the Fist, he may have been seeing the past, present, or future. But it is interesting food for thought, and I'll be looking out for similar experiences he may have in future books to see if this comes to anything. Thanks for sharing! 

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3 minutes ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Given that Mel was present at Stannis' vision and he used her method of staring into the flames, I'm hesitant to think this can be credited to his Targ heritage. I'm fairly certain that Targs have only had premonitions through their dreams, and this was not a dream, nor was it necessarily prophetic. Because we don't know the exact date he saw the battle at the Fist, he may have been seeing the past, present, or future. But it is interesting food for thought, and I'll be looking out for similar experiences he may have in future books to see if this comes to anything. Thanks for sharing! 

The one thing I will say is that Melisandre can't make people have visions. Bloodraven can give people visions, but there is no other incident in the books where Melisandre has. Therefore, I think it is unreasonable to think that Stannis did not already have a natural "gift" in this area.

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6 hours ago, WSmith84 said:

We also have to acknowledge that, because of how much power a monarch wields (or is thought to wield, whatever the case may actually be), a monarch (particularly a young one) doesn't have the same restraints that a lesser person does. Thus they are capable of committing more extreme behaviour and getting away with it. And someone who realises that there is no restraint on him/her may very well commit the kinds of actions that could earn a person the moniker of 'mad' even though they may actually be mentally stable, albeit extremely cruel. And of course, unrestricted power could probably lead someone to madness.

Rulers with absolute power will rarely have to temper their behavior.  Pretty soon it becomes a habit to lose inhibition. 

5 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Does Bowen Marsh express concern that Jon is mentally incompetent, or does he just disagree with his ideas? We've only had 3 POVs from Barristan, and we've never had a POV of his while he is interacting with her. We have no idea what his immediate reactions to her are. 

And, yeah. For the vast majority of mad Targs, all we have to go on is third person testimony. I'm not sure why you're disputing that?

And sure. The OP has indeed made an interesting observation, but the conclusion is not a given. Between the two, Dany is known to have dragon dreams -- which is what caused the mental health issues in at least two of Maekar's kids, if not three. She has displayed needless extreme and brutal cruelty, even if said cruelty tends to be reactive. She displays concern over prophecy and begins to exhibit mild paranoid tendencies. These are just not elements of Jon's arc, unless you want to equate Jon beheading Janos Slynt and throwing a couple of guys into ice cells as absolutely equivalent to Dany publicly torturing 300 people to death. While Jon absolutely may begin to struggle with his mental health in the future, especially considering recent events, we have no reason to believe that he'll go nuts based on what we've seen of him in the past 5 books. While it also isn't a given that Dany will go mad -- and I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't -- to assume automatically that female Targs cannot have mental health issues just because there is no concrete historical precedent is a pretty big leap, especially considering that there are elements in Dany's arc that are attributed to the mental health issues of her predecessors. 

Understand that this fantasy world is not an equal opportunity universe.  Those dragon dreams to the right person is knowledge.  It's not madness for Dany to walk into Drogo's fire when she knew she would walk out alive and the dragons will hatch.  She knew those eggs would hatch.  Daenerys is actually a brilliant tactician.  She always finds a way out of difficult situations.  The way she figured out the door puzzle in the HotU shows her ability to reason and solve problems at a high level.  She rescued the Unsullied from their masters and did it brilliantly with minimal loses to her side.  That shows her excellent abilities to plan, lead, organize, and execute.  She beat the sell swords using all of the tools she has at her disposal and minimized the loses on her side.  It's obvious to me that Daenerys functions at a very high level of competence. 

I looked at the Targaryen family tree after reading this and those figures do not lie.  We have no confirmation that a single Targaryen female went mad during their entire history on Westeros.  We have to go by what we know and that is the records seems to support the argument that the female side of the Targaryens do not go mad.  We also need to look at the big picture of the story.  Daenerys is called The Mother of Dragons.  She brought back the dragons but her role is more than that.  The Targaryens will survive.  I like Damsel's opinion/idea of a Targaryen reset.  The family line just like their dragon line needed a reset.  The humans and the dragons were getting weak.  You reset by leaving out the side that carries the vulnerable gene.  All signs point to the males carrying that gene. 

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3 hours ago, Take Me 2 Your Leader said:

The Valyrians conquered most of western Essos and the Dragonlords ruled the largest empire ever known for 5,000 years.  They could not have accomplished that if madness was common.  I don't think there was anything wrong with Aemma and Daenera but rather the males.  Those women were not dragons and their offspring could not handle the "call of the dragons" invading their thoughts.  Even some male Targaryens surrendered to the madness when their mothers were Targaryens.  All the presence of this gene does is increase the chances of going mad. Having the gene doesn't mean the guy would go mad.   I suspect environmental stress and the "call of the dragons" could also provoke madness to those susceptible.

As I've said, I think the madness is much more common if you don't have a dragon to bond with. Back in Valyria the dragonlords would usually have had a lot of dragons to choose from. And those potential dragonlords who did not get a pick at a dragon would certainly had not shared as much of the rule of Valyria and the Freehold than those who did have dragons.

By the way, Maegor the Cruel was dragonless for the first twenty-five years of his life. That certainly could have had an impact on his psyche if we assume that Targaryens should bond with dragons to improve their physical and mental health.

3 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Right, what I'm saying is that these prophetic dreams seem to be common among Targaryens, which has often led to erratic, cruel, or dysfunctional behavior. For instance, Daeron had prophetic dreams that he could not interpret, nor mentally or emotionally process. This led to addiction, depression, and absolute dysfunction. I am not saying the dreams themselves are a symptom of insanity. I am saying they historically have led to behaviors that other characters have understood as madness, or they have led to legitimate mental health issues. These dreams may lead Dany down the same path, or they may not. How she reacts to them in the long run has yet to be revealed to us. They are, however, still an element in Dany's story, whereas they are not definitely an element in Jon's. Which is why I think the conclusion of the OP is off-base based on the text. 

That is certainly true. However, nothing indicates that Dany has problems with her (prophetic) dreams. Daeron was just pretty much a weakling who could not cope with the stress that came with those dreams. Dany apparently can. And others could as well, like Daemon II Blackfyre and Maester Aemon. But Daeron might have been better off had he had a dragon.

3 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

(Additionally, Aegon V may have been driven mad. He may have also just made a tragic mistake. We don't know yet.) 

I don't think Aegon V got clinically mad. Just that he would, most likely, be counted among the mad monarchs by the people of Westeros. Because they thought all those dragondreaming Targaryens were nuts.

3 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

As for Dany's cruelty, you and I clearly fundamentally disagree on that. It's something that gets talked about endlessly on this forum, it's not a discussion I'm interested in repeating at length, so I'm just going to move past it.

Aside from that, cruelty and sadism have nothing to do with madness. Dany could follow in Maegor's footsteps and still be perfectly sane, and greatly enjoying herself cutting, burning, skinning, and cooking people, unlike her royal father (who really suffered from paranoia and something that looks like schizophrenia).

3 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

I do think Viserys was... off. I happen to think that if an individual needs absolute power to maintain mental health, there's something very wrong with them. I have no idea exactly what the causes of his health issues were, but I don't think that the absence of the throne was one of them. He may have had a personality disorder or three, he may have had cognitive issues, he may have simply been frustrated to the point of cruel irrationality. I'm not sure. It's difficult to tell, given that we spent very little time with him. 

Viserys problem is that he remembers how it was like to be a prince. He knows what kind of pitiful creature he has become, and he apparently didn't take that well. He certainly wasn't the kind of guy you would like to be friends with but he was neither like Joffrey nor like his father. Nothing indicates he would have liked to burn people.

3 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

That's true, but at what point does the incest merely help ensure it and when does it become part of the root cause?

In the case of the Targaryens I'd say their problem is their tainted blood, 'the blood of the dragon'. They are not normal people but, in a very real sense, part-dragon. And that's not healthy. The incest ensures that this dragon aspect is not bred out of the bloodline, in some people it is less strong (Targaryens without Valyrian looks), in others pretty strong (the average silver-golden-haired Targaryen), and in others still too strong (the imbalanced and freakish Targaryens who suffer from mental and physical afflictions). Some aren't even viable because they are too much like dragons (the stillborn abominations).

The Targaryens suffer from a 'magical genetic problem' not something that's comparable to real world genetics. We don't see any of the symptoms we would expect in real world dynasties practicing incest over hundreds of years.

3 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

The Hapsburgs and the Ptolemies are perfect examples of this. Ptolemaic dynasty had a ton of birth defects in their lines. The Spanish hapsburg had something like a 50% infant mortality rate after having ruled as long as the Targs. That's not to say that the Targs are indeed inherent to madness. They could merely just have weak personalities (if that's a thing?) and respond awfully to outside stress. When I look at the original list, I see a lot of people who might just come across as a little weird or just a giant asshole/sleazebag if they weren't a royal family member and only 2-3 that are really inherently "crazy"

Incest does not cause any birth defects. It just (greatly) increases your chances that your children will suffer from whatever genetic you could pass on to your children if you actually carry such genes. If your genes are pretty or perfectly fine then incest isn't a problem at all. And in our day and age we could actually go check out how bad our genes are and then decide whether we want to have issue with out siblings or not.

If you have bad luck and your genes in connection with those of your (very, very, very distantly related) partner actually might carry a greater risk of having children suffering from a genetic disease than if a brother and a sister with better genes have offspring (that is why there are still people suffering from various genetic diseases they inherited from their parents).

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My take on the "Targ madness" is that much comes down to any number of conquered kingdoms, any number of disgruntled lords, some of them former kings, will badmouth their new overlords.

Several not very good monarchs, like Baelor or Aegon IV, reinforced the idea. By the time we get Aerys II, who clearly was paranoid and "mad", it's a well-established trope. Targ = mad.

 

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5 hours ago, Alaynsa Starne said:

Daena and Daeron are the only ones proven to have had prophetic dreams that came true. We have no evidence that their dreams always came true, just that they had dreams that were sometimes on point. The rest of the Targs either had dreams that were false, or prophetic dreams so misinterpreted that the results were incredibly, tragically disastrous. That's hardly a long line of people who are able and savvy prophets. Given the nature of Dany's decisions based on her dreams, and how high risk those decisions are, it is at the very least eyebrow raising that she would follow through given her family history. 

That's Daenys, not Daena. And you left out Daemon II Blackfyre. Those three are the only ones confirmed but that doesn't mean they are the only ones.

Not all Targs have dragon dreams, but the ones who do have true ones. Daenys wrote an entire book about her visions. TDtwP is quite possibly one of hers.

Given that Dany's instincts with regard to Drogo's funeral pyre were right on the money, it's not remotely surprising that she follows through on dreams and visions. If she had Melisandre's track record for misreading things, then it would be eyebrow raising.

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