Black Hole Induced Psychosis, (commonly referred to as Black Hole Madness, BHIP, and scientifically named Vicishorizonopyschosis) is a very rare, and acute anomalous phenomenon that occurs when any non-mechanical entity views an anomalous black hole for long periods of time, most notably The Black Pearl. This mental 'disease' changes a sapient organism's mind over a short period of time and can lead to advanced symptoms of psychosis, and trauma. How this occurs is unknown.
A list of anomalous properties:
- The anomalous occurrence appears to have no 'cure', even for the most advanced mental treatments.
- After thousands of years of research, not much progress was made on a cure, or how a cure could possibly be synthesized. This is particularly troubling because a complete restructuring of the brain does not fix this.
Affects every species
- Another very bizarre attribute of the disease is that it affects every known sapient organism; including organisms with wildly different biologies from each other.
- Less then .0001% of sapient life seems to be immune. An experiment done on multiple sets of two genetically identical humans found that the immunity is not a genetic trait. Other studies show that even identical brains can have different responses to the phenomena.
- Beings such as the mysterious Traveler are most likely unaffected, as he travels through black holes to get around.
- If you cover the black hole with a device like a Penrose Sphere, the effects of BHIP dwindle drastically.
Many scientists theorize that most species have a natural aversion to dark places, whether out of fear of predators or simply not being able to see. This discomfort or in many cases, fear, is usually never enough to cause issues. However, a black hole is much darker than any dark ever experienced by any species. The total darkness causes mild fear and even acute terror in some people.
It is unknown why the phenomena affects organisms that live in dark climates. Another theory suggests that certain black holes have a calming effect similar to a deep hypnosis (this is supported by the trance-like state many enter when exposed to anomalous black holes). When removed from this state forcibly, something in this individual "breaks." More testing is needed to support this, however.
A third and newer theory is that there is some force at play that is still unknown to science. It is said that Black Holes emit powerful waves, called MM-Waves. Only one study claimed to have developed a way to meaningfully quantify these waves, but no other team was able to corroborate the study.
The phenomenon was first discovered in 2327 around Black Pearl. A few members on the first mission that viewed the black hole developed psychosis. Later, other black holes seen by humans had the same effect, yet the effects were somewhat less pronounced. It was made illegal for civilians to fly within 100 AU of any anomalous black hole after this effect was further studied.
Symptoms vary across every species, and also among individuals in each species. All symptoms below are permanent and incurable.
- General Psychosis
- Extreme Hunger (this combined with the other symptoms has lead to autocannibalism)
- High Blood Pressure
- Schizophrenia (or equivalent in other species)
- All animals and non-sapient organisms experience extreme fear and rage. Their fertility rates drop dramatically, and they can commit self-harm if prolonged for around 3 days.
When exposed to an anomalous black hole, sapient AIs tend to have a strong urge to stop looking. Only AIs with no emotions are immune to this effect. If an AI is forced to continue looking, it will eventually shut off. It seems like AIs, even if the ability to shut down is removed from the conscious control of the AI, are so desperate to look away that they will shut down. If an uninterruptible power is supplied to the AI, it's circuits would begin breaking down after three days of exposure.
Unlike biological life, sapient AIs seem to have a higher tolerance for whatever is causing BHIP. It took almost twice as long for a sapient AI to start experiencing systems than biological life did.
Superintelligences (whether biological or artificial) seem to have a worse reaction. When viewing an anomalous black hole, they typically experience the symptoms far faster. Damages to circuits begin only minutes after exposure. This is one theory as to why every superintelligence has an explainable personality flaw.
Hundreds of treatments have been devised over the years, with the most effective one being mind uploading. This, of course, causes great controversy, regardless of that, a mind copied and scanned into a computer does not have the symptoms to the same extent. Printing a brain for the digital mind and repeating the process has shown to reduce severity by 99%. Many don't consider this a cure due to the messy philosophy of mind uploading, however.
Another treatment is showing the affected individuals live video of a black hole. This typically calms them down enough for them to resume normal thinking patterns. It is entirely unclear how this actually helps, so more research is necessary. Contact lenses that overlay normal vision with a live feed of a Black Hole have proven effective. However, even the tiniest corruption of data or error in the video feed will cause a violent relapse.
Sufferers of this condition are typically admitted to facilities and not permitted to see family or loved ones. They have automatic restraints that activate when moved too quickly or when aggression is detected.
Many beings are worried that excessive time travel could lead to minor symptoms of BHIP. This has not been observed ever since the Time Travel ban.