[GoT] People are Talking About Daenerys — but NOT Mental Illness! Why Not? [SPOILERS]

You know the only thing that’s bothering me about the Daenerys Targaryen conversations online?
I think her potential for mental illness has been well foreshadowed forever on Game of Thrones, but I get that many don’t.


It is that we are not talking about mental illness, we’re only talking about writing.

It is bothering me that we are making it sound like mental illness always has to have a prolonged incubation period.  Believe me, I can understand your concerns over poor writing — just please hear me out.  Even if it is poor writing, we’re missing a great opportunity to talk about a significant problem in OUR world, that this media is putting on display in ITS world.  People the world over are referring to Daenerys Targaryen as the “Mad Queen” (Mad as in insane) and we aren’t talking about insanity.  It’s a missed opportunity.

People are saying “There’s not enough things to show that she could go mad” or “It’s just not believable that this young lady is insane.”  Daenerys Targaryen has dealt with significant trauma throughout her life and a lot of recent trauma and traumatic stress. They literally just fought the Army of the Dead.  I’m sure that would scar us all mentally.
Daenerys has lost two of her best friends in the world just recently, (not to mention another close friend and advisor, Ser Barristan Selmy, not all that long ago) and two creatures that she considers her actual children (Viserion and Rhaegal), and all within just the past few weeks.  She’s at war, and she is an actual combatant and the commander.  Daenerys Targaryen was comparable to a fighter pilot on her dragon, Drogon, and then a melee soldier in the Battle of Winterfell.  She also had Ser Jorah Mormont, one of the two aforementioned best friends and Sworn Shield, literally die in her arms on the battlefield.

You can see the tragedy all over her face, plus, she’s going to feel survivor’s guilt, especially since he died fighting to save her.

Moving on from Jorah, the last event of S8E4 of Game of Thrones depicts the horrifying execution of Daenerys’s best friend, Missandei of Naath, who was brutally beheaded in front of Daenerys.  Not only is she beheaded in front of Daenerys, you have to assume that Dany is going to feel she deserves blame for her capture and subsequent execution.  Daenerys takes plenty of time, and cannot look away, the images searing into her mental state.

She’s a 19-year-old human being, that has never had any worthwhile family or nurturing influence in her life whatsoever.  Her brother molested her, abused her physically, and sold her into an arranged marriage, where she was subsequently raped.  I mean, I haven’t gotten to anything she’s done, and we are already to a human being that should likely be spending several years, if not a lifetime, in therapy.  Remember, when you first see Daenerys, she is naked in a bathtub, her face void of any emotion, as she prepares to be sold away into an arranged marriage and rape.  A little sympathy for Daenerys Targaryen, eh?

She WAS an empty shell… and Daenerys Targaryen’s life has been rife with abuses and disappointments ever since.
Mental illness can strike anyone at any time. There currently aren’t good conversations about that fact going on right now…People are only saying “they never showed this in Dany” or “the writing’s not good enough to show Dany go down this route.”  I get it, I would certainly love several seasons more of great character development, and great shows, but D&D had to fuck off to Star Wars.  This is what we get, but we can still make it work, and enjoy and learn from it as we do any other media.

They absolutely showed this potential in Daenerys Targaryen.  Anyone that can watch the public crucifixion of 163 people, and regularly burn people alive, is not someone that should be considered mentally sound.  Her first action to attempt to seize power is a blood sacrifice that requires her to walk into a fire.  Yes, we’re in a fantasy world, but that’s not a hallmark of stability.  Luckily, she performed a blood magic rite without even knowing it, or she would have already lost her life to mental illness.  
I thought the episode preview, where they made it sound like Dany was hearing all the voices, right up to Viserys saying “You don’t want to wake the dragon” was just SO well done.  There hasn’t been many things I’ve said are “so well done” this season, but that episode recap and intro felt like it was in Daenerys’s head, and it worked.  Here’s a look at it:

We probably all know someone who has some type of mental illness, and we probably all know someone that could potentially “wig out” at a lot less than Daenerys Targaryen has.  Let’s also not forget, Daenerys feels she just lost the man she loves as well, as well as feeling he’s betrayed her personally.  Yes, he’s her nephew, but they didn’t know that when they fell in love, and it doesn’t mean quite the same in their world.  It probably wasn’t a healthy relationship long-term, but neither was having her heart broken during so many other significant traumas.

“All right then…Let it be fear.” was definitely always in play as a response to all of this.

They will probably portray her as “evil” — but, it looked more like a culmination of mental illness leading into a full-on psychotic incident.  This might be a way for all those parents who stupidly named their daughters Khaleesi a chance off the hook — use S8E5 to show the awesome power of mental illness to that child, and show how serious mental illness should be taken.

We could be using Daenerys Targaryen to talk about what would happen if world leaders were mentally ill, and boy, might that be relevant now or in the near future?  What if we had a nuclear-enabled country with a “Mad President” at the controls?  Oh, we do?  Well, then everything you see here should be a good example of exactly what can happen if you don’t nip that in the bud. 🙂

Remember, George R.R. Martin was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and A Song of Ice and Fire is an anti-war piece at its core.  Mental illness is an unfortunate byproduct of war, and Daenerys Targaryen has been at war for some time, and, of course, has a family history of mental illness… just like many of us.

Emilia Clarke has put in such an amazing performance, but especially the last few episodes during her breakdown, and it shouldn’t be wasted as an opportunity to discuss real issues like mental illness, war, and the impact both have on people.

She’s also now done an amazing job of showing that even the strongest, most inspirational characters can succumb to mental illness.  Bravo.  I’ve said it on here already, but Ms. Clarke deserves ALL the Emmy’s this season.

You’ll notice I didn’t even speak about the moral gray of her previous actions.  I didn’t bring up the Sack of Astapor, for instance, as a justification — let’s just acknowledge that Daenerys Targaryen is mentally ill, and it is very sad that she is likely going to be murdered, or commit suicide, rather than getting the help she needs!  Let’s talk about these issues in our real life, so we can be better aware of them, and help others!

If you, or someone you know, needs someone to talk to, please: 

Call 1-800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

If you, or someone you know is a combat veteran that needs assistance, please call the above # or look for resources at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/

Available 24 hours everyday!

Let’s have the conversation.


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