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Disambig This article is about a personality disorder. For the quickhack, see Cyberpsychosis (quickhack).

Cyberpsychosis is a mental illness, specifically a dissociative disorder, caused by an overload of cybernetic augmentations to the body.

Background[]

Those afflicted with cyberpsychosis are known as cyberpsychos, individuals who have existing psychopathic tendencies, enhanced by cybernetics, and as a result have lost their sense of identity as a person, either to themselves or others. They come to view regular people and other living things as weak and inferior. With their enhanced physical abilities and complete disregard for life, cyberpsychos are extremely dangerous to anyone that crosses their path. Cyberpsychosis can eventually affect anyone modified with cybernetics, but the less empathetic or psychologically stable a person is, the more susceptible they are to it.[1]

There is no real cure, though treatment is available (see below). The effects are cumulative. A single cyber hand is unlikely to cause cyberpsychosis, but replacement of all four limbs and both eyes could likely start the descent on the slippery slope. The removal of implants can bring a person back to some normalcy, but crossing the line of psychosis will make this measure hardly matter.

Cyberpsychosis symptoms are gradual, ranging from decay of self-preservation, distancing or disregard from friends and family, and poor or impulsive outbursts or acts. They start to identify more with machines than people, and stop doing things that used to give them pleasure (eating, sleeping, socializing, sex, etc). Eventually human interactions become irritating, and this morphs into contempt, and finally violence.[2] Not all cyberpsychos are physically violent. Some have fragmented personalities, some are kleptomaniacs, others are compulsive liars. But violence towards living things, especially people, is most common.[3]

Cyberpsychosis has become a major problem in the technology-saturated world of Cyberpunk. It is actually quite common in many boostergangs, though fairly rare in polite society. Police departments have heavily armed and armored units, called psycho squads, such as MaxTac, that specialize in subduing or killing cyberpsychos. These psycho squads have members of different backgrounds, including former cyberpsychos.

Incidentally the government (and corporations) are not going to wait for you to go over the edge. It is quite common for governments or corporations (often the de-facto government) to track people who are known to install lots of cyberware. This is another reason ripperdocs exist; not everyone wants to be on a government watch list for cyberpsychosis.

By 2077, the occurrence of cyberpsychosis had markedly decreased due to medical and implant advancements, but people still succumbed to it every day. Practically none survived any encounter with police, which usually applied overwhelming firepower to put down the threat regardless of the circumstances, a tactic which resulted in collateral civilian deaths. An expensive drug called baloperidol was a common treatment for individuals believed to be on the verge of cyberpsychosis, but its effectiveness was questionable. Standard practice for corporations who learned one of their own was becoming cyberpsychotic was to have them isolate themselves away from the public and wait for a corporate medical team to sedate them and transport them to a therapeutic retreat, but unknown to the victims, these medical teams were actually hit squads.[4]

Registry and therapy[]

People who are near the edge are politely asked (that is, required) to register as such. A registered cyberpsycho is on something akin to parole. They must attend periodic therapy sessions to keep them human. They have implants to monitor their activity. So long as they don't do anything dangerous, they can go about their lives as normal.

A cyberpsycho who goes over the edge is often killed outright. Cyberpsychos usually have enough implanted hardware to cause significant damage, and are a threat to anyone they come across. Most police departments will not go out of their way to bring in cyberpsychos alive, as attempting to capture them is much more dangerous and puts bystanders' lives at risk.

But if the psycho can be subdued, they will be strapped down and all of their cybernetics deactivated. They are forcibly jacked into a custom braindance, where a cyberpsychologist (sometimes called a psychoshrink) attempts to piece their personality back together.

Over weeks or months, the cyberpsycho gradually regains their humanity. They may even eventually become human enough to install cybernetics again (assuming they are not in prison for crimes committed on their rampage). But they are never really the same again. Mental damage from cyberpsychosis will change aspects of their personality, and follow them their entire lives.

Database Entry (2077)[]

Cyberpsychosis

CYBERPSYCHOSIS

As the Trauma Team medical docs define it, cyberpsychosis is a collective term for all psychotic and anxiety-related personality disorders caused by hardware implanted in the body and any and all behavioral mods, including software. We all know someone whose neighbor took the chrome a little too far, then left home one day with a gun and opened fire in a crowd. Or maybe said neighbor didn't want to cough up the cred for a good ripper, so they started suffering from nightmares and hearing voices once the hormone blockers were in, then lost it. Some call cyberpsychosis a disease wrought by social inequality. Others say it's the price to be paid for an unhealthy love of technology. Still others think it's complete bullshit. That is, until it's their neighbor shooting up the 'hood, and their fingers dialing MaxTac.[4]

Notable Cyberpsychos[]

Cyberpunk 2013[]

Cyberpunk 2020[]

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners[]

Cyberpunk 2077[]

Cyberpunk 2077 Shards[]

Development[]

Mike Pondsmith commented on Reddit about cyberpsychosis and how it is caused:

Okay, so time to (partially) explain CYBERPSYCHOSIS.
First of all, Cyberpsychosis is a disorder that in part depends on the subject's overall internal susceptibility. Just like every person who drinks a lot at parties doesn't end up an alcoholic in the gutter, not everyone who gets loaded up on cyberware is going to automatically go cyberpsycho. You have to have an inherent susceptibility, which (in the TRPG) is represented by the player's Humanity Stat. Humanity is not just a measure of one aspect of personality, but an overall measure of several elements including the subject's ability to emphasize and relate with others, their ability to absorb and rebound from mental and physical stressors, their ability to show compassion and flexibility to others, and whether they are able to balance their worldview through other methods.
So, in some ways, I tend to treat cyberware as an addiction--heavy anabolic steroid use being my favorite model. Not everyone who juices ends up crazy mad with roid rage. But those who are more susceptible to the need to take more steroids are more likely to hit a point where they do flip into roid rage. (Take a look at this article from Livescience for a pretty good idea of how roid rage works--notice that it's got the same basic profile as cyberpsychosis).
David's starting Humanity was probably already pretty high. And before things went to crap, he had a loving mother, a career path, and no more hassle than the average poor guy in a wealthy Ivy League school. So he had lots of buffer. But even so, he still, even after losing all that, was able to make friends, build a replacement family, and (after some prompting) even get a girlfriend. And a mentor (Maine) to create a supportive father figure. So he could definitely handle the stress of added cyberware up to a point.
Most people in Night City don't have the level of Humanity to pull this kind of stunt off without going cyberpsychotic. So David is one in a million. And that's why Arasaka wants him.
V is a different case. We don't know V's background, but even if V was a full on Corpo, they were able to hold it together even when they ended up with a dead Rockerboy in their heads (Yah, tell me about it; Johnny Silverhand's been in my head for the last three decades.) In fact, having Johnny in their head probably helped V, because Silverhand's rage and attitude probably acted as a buffer for the psychological hits V is taking. It's like having a time share with a guy who's already half cyberpsycho and doesn't mind if V slaps stuff on their shared body; he's already crazy and violent.
So that's a rough explanation of the roots of cyberpsychosis. If I ever get band width, I'm going to start writing/posting some stuff about what I had in mind as I put together the Night City universe. But for now, you'll have to go with what I've got here. Have fun, and remember not to chip mili-spec cyberware, like your mother warned you about.
And no, cyberpsychosis isn't caused by AI net demons. Gimme a break, chooms![10]

Notes[]

  • In Cyberpunk 2077's quest Bloody Ritual, it is revealed that women are more resistant to the effects of cyberpsychosis than men.
  • "The Hand" is Johnny Silverhand's "cyberpsycho expression", who blames all of his horrible acts on the cyberarm.[11]
  • Mike Pondsmith identified Adam Smasher as a "high functioning cyberpsycho".[12]
  • At least a third of the members of the Maelstrom gang are cyberpsychos, while the rest are considered borderline.[citation needed]
  • In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, cyberpsychosis is represented as a glitch-like animation focused on the subject's eyes.

References[]

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