Elves with a broken mind are left in a state of insanity, were most are incapable of coherent thought or action, though some elves become erratic, reckless, and/or violent. In some cases, like Alden Vacker's, the sufferer thrashes and wails, unable to control themselves; in special cases, like Prentice Endal's, the sufferer draws into themselves in a coma-like state.
How a Mind can be Broken
- Guilt - As mentioned multiple times within the series, elves can't handle a lot of guilt. If an elf feels guilty enough, they can completely fall apart, and their mind can break. It is mentioned in Book 1: Keeper of the Lost Cities, and Book 2: Exile.
- Memory Breaks - A mind can be purposely broken if one has committed a serious enough crime, and the Council believes that they are hiding information. They usually only do it to find hidden information in the shards of their mind. It has been performed in Book 2: Exile
What Having a Broken Mind is Like
When one has a broken mind, they can't quite function correctly. All of their memories are jumbled up, and nothing is coherent. Reality is messed up; however, if one is trained properly, they can retreat to a "nook" so that a solid piece of themselves remains. Although breathing and alive, they can't control their bodies or minds much. Described in many of the books, a person with a broken mind can frequently be seen with glazed eyes. They may also frequently thrash their body.
It also appears that they travel around their own mind and suffer from memory loss as shown in Lodestar; however, the former could just be for those with a very strong mind.
Other elves, meanwhile, react differently. Broken minds can sometimes cause elves to be reckless/violent, and it is unknown what being in this state is like.
What Being Inside a Broken Mind is Like
It is unsafe to go inside a broken mind for more than a few seconds unless your name happens to be Sophie Elizabeth Foster. Anyone else would be pulled into a broken mind and lost forever. A broken mind has been described as "cold, dark, black, and sharp."
Healing a Broken Mind
Sophie is the only elf who has successfully entered and healed a broken mind. Due to her genetic enhancements by the Black Swan, she is able to enter a broken mind without being pulled into the madness. Once inside, Sophie inflicts positive emotions to bring the elf back and heal their mind.
Known Elves with Broken Minds
- (Healed by Sophie) Alden Vacker: His mind was broken in Book Two: Exile after seeing Prentice in his broken state while visiting Exile because he felt guilty that he played a part in breaking Prentice's mind.
- (Healed by Sophie) Prentice: His mind was broken before Sophie came to the Lost Cities for hiding information about Sophie.
- (Healed by Sophie) Fintan: Mind broken by Alden Vacker, assisted by Sophie in Book Two: Exile for withholding information important for the safety of the Lost Cities. Mind healed by Sophie, assisted by Fitz in Everblaze.