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Lasting effects of torture

Discussion in 'Research' started by Hir i-Chorvath, Dec 19, 2020.

  1. Hir i-Chorvath

    Hir i-Chorvath Auror

    So in one of my WIP's the MC was tortured by the V but he was rescued by friends before the V actually managed to get really into it. There were lasting effects of this but I can't find them anywhere. All the internet wants to talk about it how horrible it is. That's great, fine, it's horrible. But what about afterwards?
    This is the torture method that the V used:

    "Mancuerda was a method of torture. A tight cord was wound around the arms of the condemned. The executioner would then throw his entire weight backwards, or the pressure would be exerted by a lever.
    The cord cut through skin and muscle directly to the bone. Additional pain was produced by the fact that the body of the prisoner was stretched as in a rack, and the belt or girdle attached to the waist also contributed further to the suffering.
    The procedure was repeated six or eight times, on different parts of the arms. People subjected to such torture usually fainted from its effects."


    So, the V only got as far as one arm but I can't find anything definite for what it would have done to the MC. The MC got medical attention and the healer saved his arm but still wasn't the best healer, especially on short notice. I've tried to come up with some of the long-term effects but I'm not really sure how it would turn out.
    The WIP takes place 5-7 years later and as far as I have it right now the MC is crippled in that arm, (and he has ptsd from the experience).
    The torture incident is basically the driving point of the story so it has to have some significant long-term effects.

    Any ideas on how useable that arm would be? Partially? Not at all?
    Would it become more or less usable with time?
    Would it be painful? Or would it feel dead?
    Just how "crippling" would it be?
    How else would it affect him other than his arm?
    Is the mancuerda too much or not enough? Is there something else that would work better?

    Thanks for reading and any advice is greatly appreciated.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Bianca

    Bianca Dreamer

    So i would say that your MC has scars. It depends pn how good it was healed. But maybe occasionaly pain. Also the psychic problems that come with torture(nightmare,Ptsd) If its his dominant arm he will have to use it more(longer time of healing?) Maybe he will learn to use his non dominant arm more
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    Don't forget about PTSD. Things that are reminders of the torturer, method, or place of torture can trigger flashbacks/panic.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

    Torture is normally used to extract information from someone. It can be used to punish someone, or because the person conducting the torture enjoys doing so, but its usually about getting information.

    Everyone eventually breaks under torture. The only exceptions are those who die during the torture, but a good torturer will generally avoid this. The only question is how long it takes someone to break, which is basically about how much pain the victim wants to go through before they talk.

    So, your MC will first and foremost have feelings of guilt, especially if what they said under torture led to the deaths of colleagues, friends and/or family. There will be physical scars, which can leave your MC with limited mobility or limited ability to do certain things (like swing a sword). Others have mentioned PTSD, and this will also be something your MC suffers from. Certain things will trigger flashbacks, which can leave your MC incapacitated for a period of time. Your MC may have anger or other emotional issues which affect their ability to do things or, more importantly, their ability to relate to other people. Your MC is likely to have a real hatred of those who tortured them, and also a hatred (or lack of forgiveness) for those whom the MC feels left them to be tortured. Dealing with people who have been through torture can be very tricky, and attempting to rehabilitate them is a task for specialists - and if there are no such specialists then your MC is likely to have mental issues for the rest of their life.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. TJPoldervaart

    TJPoldervaart Minstrel

    So, having some background in medicine, but not a lot, I'd say the answers to your questions would be:

    Any ideas on how useable that arm would be? Partially? Not at all? &
    Just how "crippling" would it be?

    This would be different for each situation, which is kind of nice because you can choose which one suits you. Depending on the amount of damage, location of the damage (dit it cut through a nerve or didn't it?) and the healing afterwards, the arm could be anywhere between fully usuable to limp. If you want to know more, I'd suggest you figure out what exactly would be damaged (nerves, bones, muscle, sinew) and then look up on a medical side what the effects of that would be.

    For the sake of your story, it might be interesting to let the protagonist have some use of his arm left, but not all. For instance, he could hold some papers, but his arm falters if he tries to carry something heavier like a box. Or you could let him have the strength of the arm but lack the fine control we need to write or carry a cup of water.

    Would it become more or less usable with time?

    Again, this depends. Some people experience a deteriation of a damaged limb when they get older (this happens most often, I'd say). A few seemingly heal, or stay stagnant.

    Would it be painful? Or would it feel dead?

    It's probably going to be painful, or at least weird. Even when people lose an arm, they still experience pain or more often an itch even if the arm is not there ('phantom arm'). It is very possible that the pain has certain triggers, such as the cold.

    How else would it affect him other than his arm?

    I'd suggest studying the psychological effects of torture in general to learn more about this.

    Is the mancuerda too much or not enough? Is there something else that would work better?

    If it's too much or not enough depends both on the type of story you want to write and in how much detail you describe it, although it sounds quite dark already. It does seem kind of exotic when you can also break his bones with a hammer, but then again, it being exotic does give your villain more of a style.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.

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