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Kefka Insanity Theory

Posted: 12th March 2014 22:48
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I don't know if someone has brought this up before but it is something that I noticed while replaying through final fantasy 6 on my iphone.

Kefka is insane, no one will deny that, he was driven insane by the many different experiments that happened to him while living in the Gestahl empire. I believe it is possible that he was once a sane and reasonable person, that is why he was given a position of power and authority and is even possible for him being put forth as a test subject.

[/SPOILER]
When the player is in Narshe attempting to stop Kekfa and his troupes from taking the esper Valigarmanda (Tritoch) and you battle kefka he drops an item, that item is a peace ring, the description reads "Ring that soothes the wearer's mind. Prevents berserk and confusion"[QUOTE] Could it not be argued that he had, and was wearing that ring as a means of treatment for his insanity.

My proposal is that, even while Kefka was insane there is evidence that he was attempting to treat himself for this affliction, it is only after he looses this ring that he begins acts to further the nature of anarchy rather than in a twisted way for the glory of the Gestahl empire. For e.g. he does not mention releasing the warring triad once until he is encountered in the magitek labrotories, after he is defeated at narshe.

i felt it was interesting because it means in a wierd way the main party was, if only tangentaly, responsible for the worlds destruction. and furthermore can someone who is insane truly be held accountable for their actions when they were incapable of receiving treatment for said insanity.

Tell me what you think guys and gals.
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Posted: 13th March 2014 01:16

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Welcome to CoN, and heck of a first post!

We have talked about it recently, though it probably needed a new and separate topic anyways.

Personally, I believe there's substantial evidence that he was a sociopath and an eccentric. And I think that it's certainly true that the experiment had a lasting effect on him. I don't believe that the experiment gave him a mental illness, and therefore I don't believe he was out of control and thus could be absolved for his crimes.

I follow the theory that the experiment changed him in two ways: 1) The experiment, not being perfected, likely was severely painful and traumatic. It might not have caused pure insanity, but may have certainly influenced his thinking, perhaps making him more nihilistic; and 2) his newfound abilities created a sense of entitlement within Kefka, as well as a sort of alienation from the rest of society.

I think there's room for debate, and I'd love to debate it too, but I see too many problems with the Kefka insanity theory to accept it.

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Posted: 13th March 2014 14:11

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That's a cool piece of information; thanks for bringing it to my attention!

In my reading of FF6, Kefka's arc is not a tragic story of a good person struggling to preserve their identity against insanity. The story of Kefka was of a person who achieved everything they wanted, but had no purpose or connection to the world - had no hope. Kefka wielded supreme power, but was completely impotent. Though the peace ring is a cool easter egg, I don't think it enhances the overall narrative.

If you want to test the theory, then go through the game and take note of any other items dropped by scripted battles that could be interpreted as adding to the story. If the designers meant this as a story hint, then it stands to reason they'd use this method of story delivery again.
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Posted: 13th March 2014 18:10

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This has been a thing for awhile, and is rampant in RPG's for many years.

"It's somehow the good guys' fault that the bad guy is doing what he's doing."

Basically, it's akin to blaming the police for John Wayne Gacy killed those boys, or blaming pedophilia laws. Clearly, the insane person shouldn't be held accountable for his or her own actions because he's insane.

To make any call as to whether Kefka is accountable for his own actions, you have to make certain assumptions.

1) Kefka was perfectly normal and healthy before the experiment. From my research, there's no say one way or another.

2) Kefka was forced to take this experiment, and in no way volunteered.

Number two makes no sense to me. As of the beginning of the game, Kefka is Gestahl's right hand man. This means that Kefka is exceptionally clever, or Gestahl is truly a great idiot. I go with the former given what the Emperor managed to achieve.

As far as the former, given the advent of magic, there's no way of knowing exactly what these experimental effects can or would have on a person. However, let's assume that we use things known .

1) Kefka seems to be in touch with reality. He knows and recognizes things around him as he normally should. He knows the differences between his soldiers and other people, and can recognize Leo, Celes, and the Emperor effectively.

2) He understands cause/effect. He knows the "if/then" scenario. Many people who are psychotic aren't in touch with reality. They believe the world doesn't work the same way the rest of us do. Many think in fallacies and believe them to be absolutely true. For instance- If Napoleon was short, and I am short, therefore I am Napoleon. He seems to, in no way, think in that manner.

3) His speech and behavior patterns, while eccentric, are still appropriate responses to the stimuli around him. He's afraid of being injured, and reacts with rage when he is injured. Even his laugh as Gestahl threatens to kill him is somewhat appropriate- it's a surrender reflex combined the the adrenaline in the moment. Many perfectly sane people are known to laugh during these moments. Me included.

4) He knows what he's doing is wrong. He just doesn't care. If he wasn't aware of what's right and wrong. Case in point are his two major interactions with General Leo. The first time, he waits for Leo to depart before he sets his plan into motion. The second interaction, he immobilizes others and traps Leo, before confronting him, breaking him, and finally crushing him.

He'd feel no need to wait for these things if he didn't know these actions these are wrong.

For me, this makes Kefka not psychotic, this makes him neurotic combined with a personality disorder or two. The neurosis is his almost orgasmic love of violence, suffering, and his compulsion to cause those things. This makes him still accountable for his actions. He has two personality disorders- he's a sociopath- he has no conscience. He wants to rule the world, and anyone who gets in his way will be destroyed. He gets what he wants. The second is connected with his first- megalomania. He's the greatest thing ever, and deserves to rule over his lessers.

His outbursts of violence aren't random, he doesn't rampage and kill hundreds or thousands for no reason whatsoever. He's either doing so to attain a goal, or, in the case of attacking the party after Celes stabs him, a response to being attacked.

Anyway, he is accountable for his own actions. He knows what he's doing and he knows why he's doing it. He's just a horribly underestimated antagonist and a compelling bad guy in a wonderful game.

This post has been edited by chevleclair on 13th March 2014 18:10

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Posted: 14th March 2014 01:13

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Wow... I have never thought of Kefka in this way. Totally turned me upside-down.

Honestly, I think Djein might have something going there with the Peace Ring, but I do not think it is as extreme as he states it. It seems a reasonable theory to me, if only because it is new and shiny. I have one nitpick, though, aside from chevleclair's excellent psychoanalysis: the Poisoning of Doma took place before the Battle of Narshe. That really was "inhuman". If the Peace Ring really did help Kefka control himself, the Poisoning should not have happened. The clown we see at Doma is definitely the same person as the maniac we see at the Tower. On the other hand, Kefka was more devious and less random in the WoB in general; but on the other other hand, it may have been only because in the WoR he was already so powerful he did not need to be devious. Honestly, I think both arguments have merit. I am unsure of which side to take, honestly.
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Posted: 14th March 2014 05:22

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First, I agree with most of chevleclair's points, except one: I don't think people underestimate Kefka. Unless I'm out of the loop, which is certainly possible, Kefka is often considered one of the best video game antagonists ever. Now, if you were talking about in-game, then I agree that even the people within the empire had no idea what kind of monster they were letting loose. Or, they just didn't care.

As to the points people have brought up about the item being used as a hint: it's not unprecedented. The Memento Ring is another major example of how they continued the storytelling even with the game paused in the menu.

Also, before I continue, it should be noted how awesome a game's story is that going into its 20th anniversary people are still looking at it trying to figure it out. Like Raven said, both arguments have merit, but how often can such a serious discussion be had over a video game character/story? Unfortunately not often enough.

Now, I think that it was absolutely used to make a point, but how much of one is questionable. It may have been a symbol that his mind was troubled, not that he was actually using it to make himself feel better. It's interesting though, and it's certainly worth continuing a discussion.

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Posted: 21st March 2014 15:45

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Quote (BlitzSage @ 14th March 2014 01:22)
Now, I think that it was absolutely used to make a point, but how much of one is questionable. It may have been a symbol that his mind was troubled, not that he was actually using it to make himself feel better.

I think this is probably the safe thing to take out of the matter.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the experimentation on Kefka augmented if not generated his 'insanity.' Yes, he has a strong grasp on practical matters, but the man is clearly neurotic. Given that the extensive experimentation he underwent is given as one of his defining characteristics, I think it's appropriate to assume a connection.

This explanation wouldn't exonerate him, because it clearly doesn't account for Kefka's motives and execution, but it does account for the uniquely deranged personality that distinguishes him from so many other villains. This backstory thereby doesn't make Kefka a tragic figure. When one wins the Peace Ring, however, it does help illustrate a picture of a man who is deeply unstable and conscious of the fact - which I think makes it a valuable addition.

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Posted: 22nd March 2014 00:22

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Well, I guess my opinion is probably the safe position. Admittedly, part of my opinion probably comes from a difficulty to exonerate him, purely based on the terrible nature of his crimes.

Another thing that keeps me from accepting the theory is that, at the end of the game, it feels as if he's toying with the party. I'm not sure how much to trust what he says, or what others say about him. It seems to me that he goes about his charade primarily for a game, as if the entire thing was a show.

This supports Death Penalty's claim that he is "clearly neurotic." But what his actions, particularly before the final battle, suggest is that he was doing these things for philosophical reasons.

My theory is that the things that took place during the experiments did not suddenly change him into a lunatic, but a mixture of the pain of the experiment and the added powers helped reshape his worldview into a narcissistic and nihilistic belief. From that point on, nothing else mattered to him, except for himself. It just is hard for me to think that he was not at least in some level of control of his faculties.

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Posted: 26th March 2014 07:32

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Well we know that for sure that he's a sociopath, he doesn't understand love, what love is and how to feel it.

Also agree with CHEVLECLAIR about him also suffering from megalomania.

This post has been edited by berryfunny on 26th March 2014 07:35

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Posted: 28th May 2014 00:11

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Good stuff here, and actually related to something I was discussing with the Other Half recently, as he'd never before played VI until this spring.

I have to admit that, in 19+ years of this game, I'd never put two and two together on the Peace Ring, but as a symbol of Kefka's disturbed state, it makes a great deal of sense.

As to the heroes being responsible for Kefka's state, I don't tend to think so. He's been doing his thing long before he fights with them at Narshe, and he continues to do so after. If anyone other than Gestahl/Ghastra, we might level our accusations at Cid. After all, he's complicit in the process, understands in essence what he is doing to the Espers and Terra--and later to Kefka and Celes.

Regarding the origins of Kefka's mental state, I have a personal theory that is based largely on in-game data and information from Square-published supplementary material.

It's well established that Kefka is Cid's first experimental infusion. And since Terra is 18 at the time of the game's start and the raid on the Esper village happened when she was 2, Cid can't have been experimenting on Espers and such for any more than about 16 years. Kefka, when the game starts, is, IIRC, 35 or 36. What that means is that he would have been no younger than 19 or 20 when he received his experimental infusion--much, much older than Celes, who would have been a toddler or very young child, if we take her at her word in Zozo.

So considering this, Kefka experienced a massive change in what he was capable of doing, and he experienced this at an age where he had already established an identity and a sense of his place in the world. This is a sharp contrast to Celes, who pretty much always has been what she is, with the abilities she has.

Nothing's ever said as to whether Kefka volunteered or was 'voluntold' to undergo the process, so it's 100% fanwank on my part, but I lean toward the latter. If he was forced to undergo the infusion, and if it was imperfect--which could suggest that it was lengthy, painful, and/or otherwise damaging--he would have potentially reacted to it as he would to any other significant trauma.

His aspirations to godhood, his apparent lack of concern over morality, and his enjoyment of manipulating and controlling other people might also be a direct outgrowth of this. After all, if he was forced to undergo infusion, he might take solace in being able to force his will on others, and he might aspire to obtain more power through the Triad not only because he realizes it's possible, but because this would guarantee that he could not be subjected to the same kind of damaging control he initially experienced ever again.

Just my two cents. Naturally, YMMV.

This post has been edited by ChickenFriedChocobo on 28th May 2014 00:16

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Posted: 28th May 2014 04:56

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The point here is, is the peace ring meant to suggest that Kefka was immune to confusion before it is dropped, speaking from a storyline standpoint?

Doesn't that make his requirement to wear it (I'm assuming on Emperor's orders) just a step away from the slave crown thing with Tina?

Not that it's unexpected, but it's more believable than for Kefka to wear the thing because he wants to. I don't buy that.

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Posted: 11th December 2014 19:32
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I LOVE THIS THEORY!!!

Such a cool idea! I have always wondered what the hell Kefka's motivations were and the 'he's just evil' argument is shallow and in my opinion lazy. The damaged psyche thing makes tons of sense, considering he was an experiment, (basically a FF6 Sephiroth).

The peace ring Idea is genius, because you are right: how could an OVERTLY evil character rise to the rank of general? He would have done something along the way to ruin his favour with either his people or his superiors.

Perhaps with his Peace Ring, or maybe another similar Plot Device, he could have been a less impressive General Leo? You could even play them off each other and have Kefka driven farther into insanity by his jealousy over this 'Perfect Knight'.

Thanks for this ammo, I will always think of this when contemplating Kefka.
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Posted: 11th December 2014 19:43

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Quote (Thraggdrasil @ 11th December 2014 19:32)
The peace ring Idea is genius, because you are right: how could an OVERTLY evil character rise to the rank of general? He would have done something along the way to ruin his favour with either his people or his superiors.

Well the Empire are pretty evil themselves so, if anything, being overtly evil probably helped him rise through the ranks in the first place.
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Posted: 11th December 2014 20:44
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^^this is true, though we only see the empire at the middle/end of its 'story arc'. I like to think that it was a slow burn (so to speak) in regards to its turn to true Evil. Like perhaps when it was first gaining power it wasn't much different than Figaro, or Doma or even Narshe, but during its development maybe they discovered some stranded espers, and used their life force to gain magical power (thus mtech armours).
Once they got this lead in strength, they got their lust for dominance. (I know this is super nerdy overthinking, but I always try to imagine a story within a story, especially one as good as FF6)
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Posted: 11th December 2014 21:40

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I've always seen the Empire like the one in Star Wars in that it's always been evil and intent and domination. The fact that (if I'm not mistaken) the creators of Final Fantasy are big Star Wars fans probably helps with that thought though.

The lack of backstory on the Empire other than the Esper world flashback pretty much leaves it up to everyone's imagination.

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Posted: 12th December 2014 18:08

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Quote (Cefca @ 11th December 2014 16:40)
I've always seen the Empire like the one in Star Wars in that it's always been evil and intent and domination. The fact that (if I'm not mistaken) the creators of Final Fantasy are big Star Wars fans probably helps with that thought though.

The lack of backstory on the Empire other than the Esper world flashback pretty much leaves it up to everyone's imagination.

The Empire does have a backstory, but it is severly limited in scope. From talking to the townfolk, you find:

- Tzen had a royal family, who were assassinated by the Empire.

- Maranda was once considered the most beautiful part of the continent.

- Albrook is somehow a central location on the continent, possibly because it is the only port. It is referred to explicitly as "the occupied city."

- Doing business within the Imperial nation involves bribery of the army officials. We can see that the Imperial military is intended to be suggested as corrupt, and or that the government is interfering with businesses in a way that is inappropriate for a free market. Also, the Imperial solders are shown to be violent, hot-tempered, slow-witted, hedonistic, yet somehow very dedicated to their jobs. This suggests the kind of place the Empire's totalitarian regime is; it doesn't bother with educating or disciplining it's military.

- This one is rather dark. In Maranda, an Imperial soldier is shown "chasing a woman." She wouldn't be running away from someone she wanted to be caught by... Dark. :/

- The Imperial government practices forced conscription. No draft, no registration, just "you're in the army now."

- The Imperial army punishes defectors in cruel and unusual ways, seeming to favor beating them with their bare fists until they can barely walk/are in traction.

- The southern continent once had trade relations with at least Nikeah, as is specified by the bartender in that town.

- The Empire is a propaganda machine. This one is suggested by a man in the pub in Vector who says it's the Returners' fault that the other countries on the continent are now under Imperial control. This is kind of insane troll logic, and sounds like this guy believes in the Empire's hype way too hard.

- If you want to live in the captial, you'd better talk up the Empire. Only in Vector will you find people who say anything positive about the Empire, and are not soldiers themselves (except for drunken hospitality women in bars).

- The atmosphere of the towns is suggested as quietly terrifying, by the creepy, shifty-eyed music, "Under Martial Law."

- The Imperial army are tattlers. Ratting people out seems to be encouraged, or people wouldn't complain constantly about the possibility of the bad things they say about Kefka getting back to him.

- Emperor Gestahl himself is a cold, calculating, merciless person who can bald-facedly lie to whatever end serves his purpose. The state of his Empire oughtn't be surprising, really.

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Posted: 17th February 2015 17:29

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It's an interesting idea. I can certainly give it some merit.
But I really can't see Kefka treating himself for insanity. That's not to say it's impossible- if Kefka was in fact a more-or-less normal person before the infusion (that doesn't mean no mental disorders whatsoever, as a lot of people have some form of them), there's a chance he'd realize that he was getting out of control, and try to do something about it.

On the other hand, the infusion couldn't have been done any later than 20, and the human brain isn't fully formed for a few years yet. So that could add to the initial damage the infusion would cause, especially to the parts of the brain that control judgement. So in that case, I think it more likely that Gestahl had him wear it.

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