Will Not As Strong As Steel

Bionic Dyscognitive Disorder

(a.k.a. Bionomanic Disorder; Bionic Dysphoria; Cybernetic¹ Dyscognitive Disorder; Cybernetic Schizotypal Disorder; Cyberpsychosis; Mechanization Stress Disorder; Post-Augmentation Stress Syndrome; Robolunacy.)

By whatever name it is known, bionic dyscognitive disorder is a severe mental health issue triggered by augmentation with non-biological technology (bionics). In various analyses, it can present with symptoms similar to a variety of other conditions, such as:

  • body integrity dysphoria (most common with the use of limb augmentations, in which cases it can trigger intense desire to remove the augmentation; some sufferers attempt this themselves, often fatally);
  • severe schizotypal disorders or schizophrenia (typically associated with neural interfaces or sensory augmentations);
  • post-traumatic stress syndrome-like symptoms associated with fictive memories of the augmentation procedure;
  • Cluster B borderline (typically antisocial) personality disorder; or
  • in the most extreme cases, a monothematic depersonalization delusion similar to the Cotard delusion, in which the sufferer perceives themselves as a robot, often including the belief that they are an automaton incapable of volition.

Bionic dyscognitive disorder also does not exist, insofar as no reputable iatropsychic professional has determined a neurophysiological cause for any case.

Rather, bionic dyscognitive disorder is a convenient label placed upon a variety of memetically-induced syndromes attributable to the high frequency of autotoxic and exotoxic anti-augmentation memeplexes found in primitive and primitivist societies, active at the conscious or subconscious level.

When one provides a limb augmentation to one with a deeply internalized subconscious belief that bionic augmentation is unnatural, one induces memetic body integrity dysphoria; when one provides certain types of neural interface to a patient with high risk factors for schizotypal disorders, the data input from the interface will be interpreted accordingly, and the result misdiagnosed as attributable to the augmentation rather than the underlying factors; when convinced that augmentation must necessarily be traumatic, the brain will obligingly perceive it as such; and in extreme cases, when submerged in vitalist memeplexes, the least stable will develop the delusion that augmentation is equivalent to mechanization.

(And, naturally, those on the borderline of borderline personality disorders may be tipped over the border by any enhancement to their personal armamentarium.)

On an individual basis, the recommended treatment for any of these issues is intensive corrective memetic therapy, preferably preceded by removal from the memetically toxic external environment. In the longer term, the only reliable course is to press for the adoption of Collegium standards of mental stability by all extra-Imperial augmenteries such that they will be appropriately watchful for those whose variously fragile mental states will be destabilized further in the process of augmentation.

See also: autoscient depersonalization disorder; social transition stress disorder; technical somatically-induced stress disorder.

– Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed.

  1. Yes, we know.

Induced Startup Dysphoria

Most bionic implants are designed to be controlled by simple mental commands in the same way as natural body parts; originally by painstaking training of the sensory and motor cortices to recognize the device and its functions, and in more recent times by engraving neuralware device drivers into the augmentee’s neural net. Either technique permits the use of an implanted device to be as easy and unconscious as flexing a muscle, rather than requiring the clumsy use of mnemonic sequences, narrative command phrases, or entoptic interfaces.

The problem with this, on the other hand, is that it bypasses the brain’s normal learning-to-mastery sequence, and until one is accustomed to the operation and functionality of such a device, it really shouldn’t be quite so easy and unconscious to use. That twitchy reflex that causes you to drop your drink and knock over your chair is merely a cause for mild embarrassment, whereas that twitchy reflex that causes you to pop off a cluster of micro-missiles and burn down the bar with your laser eyes is a cause for significantly more embarrassment, not to mention substantial liability and criminal charges.

Thus, induced startup dysphoria. This piece of neuralware exists to partially counter the effect of the neuralware drivers and make the implant feel unnatural and/or uncomfortable – to a mild degree, and continuously diminishing on a curve – for an appropriate acclimation period (usually defined in terms of a number of activation cycles) – in a manner which deters the brain from incorporating it into reflexive or non-deliberative-cognition-based actions until the augmentee has had the opportunity to properly internalize its functions. Mayhem beyond this point can safely be assumed to be intentional.

(Often, less scrupulous augmenteries in the black and red market segments omit the provision of an ISD module. It is unknown how many unintentional firefights this practice has started, but since many of these augmenteries leave the client’s new implant disabled until they have left the back office, it seems certain that they’re aware of the issue. As in every other business, you get what you pay for.)

– Augmentery’s Almanac

Trope-a-Day: Artificial Limbs

Artificial Limbs: Quite possible, but a disfavored technology in Imperial society; in the modern era, when biotechnology is also advanced, it tends to be preferred for internal solutions, or at the least it should be used to ensure that the bionic technology is well integrated with the meat: bones reinforced with carbon fiber, muscles interwoven with myomar, a skin supplemented with a layer of armor gel, and a well-concealed mass driver hidden mostly within the flesh are much more likely than simply chopping off a perfectly good arm and replacing it with a mechanical prosthetic one.

(And, of course, cloned grafts are the way biotech solves the pure replacement issue.)