Psychological Assessment of SIERRA II/John-Ident#117 SPARTAN 'super soldier' project

alix965

Well-Known Member
This is just a wordy thought experiment.

I have always believed that the driving force behind any fictional character is the untold story of the heroe's motivation. The thing that drives a protagonist is probably the hardest thing to convey via any medium. Especially if he/she is a character in a video game. When I first played Halo CE, MC was a faceless soldier with whom I layed waste to all those creatures who stood in my way... this fact served me well on legendary. Kill Covenant with extreme prejudice and the mission always comes first.

Then I started reading the books and when I got to Eric Nylund's Fall of Reach, it occured to me that the lone SPARTAN known only as John-117 was a psychopathic killer.

After following his exploits in the other books and in the Halo2 game, I determined he would not be someone that I would want to spend any amount of time with. He'd be like a giant, mute weirdo.

A seven foot tall killing machine. A demigod in peak physical condition weighing in excess of a quarter ton in his armor and weaponry. A chemically and genetically enhanced orphan subjected to torturous medical testing. Wherever he goes he is viewed with an equal measure of curiosity, awe, fear and anxiety. He is a man-child with arrested social skills and a deep-seated case of separation anxiety. He is a hardened combat veteran that has seen millions wiped out by what appeared to be an unstoppable and merciless alien force.

A man imbued with a clinical indifference to his comrades as well as his enemies. Hyper- lethal. And to top it all off, the only friend/guardian to this asexual career soldier is a younger, much nuder, holographic version of woman who seems at once the caring mother figure and the aloof stranger.

As I mentioned this is an excercise, but I wonder if I'm the only one who got the sense that the boys and girls that were 'lucky' enough to lead SPARTAN's life must be burdened with crushing resposiblity and excruciating grief.

If there are any REAL psych majors out there, I would love to hear what you have to say.
 

ventrue

Well-Known Member
Can you provide some proof for those "assessments"? Because, quite frankly, I have no idea where you picked all that stuff up - I've got a totally different impression of the Spartans.
 

alix965

Well-Known Member
Can you provide some proof for those "assessments"? Because, quite frankly, I have no idea where you picked all that stuff up - I've got a totally different impression of the Spartans.
Dude, I'm pretty long winded, but I don't mind a debate. Maybe we can start by you pointing out Which part you take umbrage with and I'll give you a 'for instance'. Of course a lot of the things I've mentioned are evidenced throughout the Haloverse as opposed to proven fact. Unless you disagree with everything I've pointed out, in which case, I'm pretty sure nothing I write will be able to win you over to my point of view.
 
Very, very nice psych evaluation. I couldn't have put it better myself. But this doesn't just apply to John, it applies to every single Spartan, whether it is mk. II or III, hell, the mk. III's were encouraged to be incredibly violent, even towards each other.
But, I suppose it was necessary..
 

ventrue

Well-Known Member
Dude, I'm pretty long winded, but I don't mind a debate. Maybe we can start by you pointing out Which part you take umbrage with and I'll give you a 'for instance'. Of course a lot of the things I've mentioned are evidenced throughout the Haloverse as opposed to proven fact. Unless you disagree with everything I've pointed out, in which case, I'm pretty sure nothing I write will be able to win you over to my point of view.
Ha, good point :)

Well, the psychopathy was the first thing that caught my eye. I'm not a psych-expert, but that seems just wrong. Wikipedias first sentence on "Psychopaths" names three characteristics and the Chief shows only one of them.

Then there's the indifference towards comrades. Sure, Marines do "slow down" Spartans, but nevertheless it's one of John's major overall objectives to save teammates. Especially his fellow Spartans - I actually had the impression that it hurt him to leave them all on Reach.

I also can't recall where the Spartans were test subjects (as in: "Give him that blue stuff and let's see what happens!"). Their augmentations were obviously dangerous, but those dangers were not exactly unexpected.

And what's with the separation anxiety?
 

Cadet

Executive Officer & RCO
Division Staff
405th Regiment Officer
I do have to disagree with you on your assessment that John has a "Clinical indifference" to his comrades. The novels make it abundantly clear that John, and the other SPARTANs do care deeply about each other. You are correct, they do have arrested social skills, are unable to effectively display this attachment to each other, but you know it is there. They have their small, subtle, things, the two finger smiled traced over the visor when they see each other. Not normal human interactions obviously, their life has kind of made that sort of thing impossible, but the SPARTANs do care for each other.

We see especially over the course of the novels that John and Kelly are as platonically close as two super soldiers can be, who have no basis for real relationships. I would consider the two of them friends, as well as Linda and Fred. They have shared a lot of experiences together, combat experiences especially, which tends to form tight bonds.

I’m also willing to go out on a limb and say that John and the other SPARTANs do care about the other UNSC personal and civilian lives. It would be easy for them to feel some sort of a connection to other UNSC personal, as all the SPARTANS have known is the military, and these are fellow military personal. I’m certain there is at the very least a twinge of comradery, of “brothers in arms,” felt towards the Marines and the Naval personal. There are instances in the novels where this is expressed. I know a lot of people don’t like it, although I do feel it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be, but there are moments in the novelization of Halo: Combat Evolved, where the Chief does express sadness over the death of Marines, he tries to keep an eye out for them and the like.

John, to me, has always had the mission, and the defense of humanity itself as the core motivation, later in the war. Obviously, in the beginning, when he was just combating insurrectionists, the primary drive was his mission, and his up bringing to hold the UNSC and its needs above himself, but I really do feel that when faced with the utter “outer/outsider” nature of the Covenant threat, the motivation to fight did expand from, “I was told to do this” to, “This is something I have to do.” Of course, was his thought of “I have to do this” influenced by all his training to make him more susceptible to orders and putting others before himself, most likely. But the SPARTANs do hold a value on every human life.

Not to say that they aren’t capable of going into a “Clinical detachment” mindset when they have to do a job, if they have to sacrifice someone to get the job done, they are willing to do so.

Of course, you can have this clinical detachment to do a job, and not be a sociopath. I myself am a Forensic Science major. I have worked in a Crime lab, I have removed charred clothing off burned bodies, I have processed the crime scene photos of small children killed by their own mother, helped remove bodies form cars, et cetera. When you do a job that involves things like this you either have to naturally have the ability, or learn it quick, to, leave work at work as it were, and be able to take a detached point of view towards what you have to do to get the job done. So, just because when the time calls for it, the SPARTANs can take a detached view of the value of a human life in order to complete he mission, because to them the mission comes above all, that’s integral to their personalities, does not automatically make them sociopathic monsters.
 

project003

Well-Known Member
I do have to disagree with you on your assessment that John has a "Clinical indifference" to his comrades. The novels make it abundantly clear that John, and the other SPARTANs do care deeply about each other. You are correct, they do have arrested social skills, are unable to effectively display this attachment to each other, but you know it is there. They have their small, subtle, things, the two finger smiled traced over the visor when they see each other. Not normal human interactions obviously, their life has kind of made that sort of thing impossible, but the SPARTANs do care for each other.

We see especially over the course of the novels that John and Kelly are as platonically close as two super soldiers can be, who have no basis for real relationships. I would consider the two of them friends, as well as Linda and Fred. They have shared a lot of experiences together, combat experiences especially, which tends to form tight bonds.

I’m also willing to go out on a limb and say that John and the other SPARTANs do care about the other UNSC personal and civilian lives. It would be easy for them to feel some sort of a connection to other UNSC personal, as all the SPARTANS have known is the military, and these are fellow military personal. I’m certain there is at the very least a twinge of comradery, of “brothers in arms,” felt towards the Marines and the Naval personal. There are instances in the novels where this is expressed. I know a lot of people don’t like it, although I do feel it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be, but there are moments in the novelization of Halo: Combat Evolved, where the Chief does express sadness over the death of Marines, he tries to keep an eye out for them and the like.

John, to me, has always had the mission, and the defense of humanity itself as the core motivation, later in the war. Obviously, in the beginning, when he was just combating insurrectionists, the primary drive was his mission, and his up bringing to hold the UNSC and its needs above himself, but I really do feel that when faced with the utter “outer/outsider” nature of the Covenant threat, the motivation to fight did expand from, “I was told to do this” to, “This is something I have to do.” Of course, was his thought of “I have to do this” influenced by all his training to make him more susceptible to orders and putting others before himself, most likely. But the SPARTANs do hold a value on every human life.

Not to say that they aren’t capable of going into a “Clinical detachment” mindset when they have to do a job, if they have to sacrifice someone to get the job done, they are willing to do so.

Of course, you can have this clinical detachment to do a job, and not be a sociopath. I myself am a Forensic Science major. I have worked in a Crime lab, I have removed charred clothing off burned bodies, I have processed the crime scene photos of small children killed by their own mother, helped remove bodies form cars, et cetera. When you do a job that involves things like this you either have to naturally have the ability, or learn it quick, to, leave work at work as it were, and be able to take a detached point of view towards what you have to do to get the job done. So, just because when the time calls for it, the SPARTANs can take a detached view of the value of a human life in order to complete he mission, because to them the mission comes above all, that’s integral to their personalities, does not automatically make them sociopathic monsters.
I agree with Cadet.
 

RoxyRoo

Well-Known Member
Not to say that they aren’t capable of going into a “Clinical detachment” mindset when they have to do a job, if they have to sacrifice someone to get the job done, they are willing to do so.
.
Case in point: Jorge vs. Emile. Jorge was in the same Spartan II training program/class as John, and he felt deep compassion for the dead scientist's daughter. He knew what it was like to experience loss and remorse, and the fact he cared enough to bring it up later on when briefing Halsey. He couldn't seem to separate himself from his humanity. Emile on the other hand takes serious pride in being a bad ass soldier, and finds Jorge's compassion laughable. "The big man forgets what he is sometimes." He seems to be the most detached out of all of Noble team.

There are also numerous times in the games themselves where John's own compassion for the other marines shows, not through speech, but in body language and actions. Remember the first mission in Halo 1 when you're racing to the bumblebee life pods? Master Chief is just outside the hatch with a marine that falls down. He picks the little guy up and throws him in. Later, when on descent onto Halo's surface, a marine says, "Are we gonna make it? I don't wanna die, Sir!" Master Chief doesn't say anything, but gives him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Sure, they all died in the end, but you can still see he cares for human life. Without a face or much dialogue to go on, you can't forget the effort that went into animating the Chief's body language.
 

ventrue

Well-Known Member
Remember the first mission in Halo 1 when you're racing to the bumblebee life pods?
I've always had the feeling that this pat on the shoulder inside the pod was a gesture he had picked up somewhere and that he just "imitated" because he didn't know what to say... :)
 

RoxyRoo

Well-Known Member
You're right. He probably learned it from his parents. I think you forget he was 7 years old by the time he was inducted. This time I'll pull from the books. In Fall of Reach, when Halsey is first talking to them about how they've been taken from their families to serve humanity, she observes some of the children crying, and others comforting each other. This is also stated in her journal that you get with the Limited and Legendary Editions of Reach. Children are very capable in terms of emotional support. How else would they have gotten through boot camp? They became like family.
 

ventrue

Well-Known Member
You're right. He probably learned it from his parents. I think you forget he was 7 years old by the time he was inducted. This time I'll pull from the books. In Fall of Reach, when Halsey is first talking to them about how they've been taken from their families to serve humanity, she observes some of the children crying, and others comforting each other. This is also stated in her journal that you get with the Limited and Legendary Editions of Reach. Children are very capable in terms of emotional support. How else would they have gotten through boot camp? They became like family.
No, I'm not forgetting that and it certainly is a possibility ;-)
But I don't see why it has to be something from his childhood. He could just as well have learned it from other solders, trying to encourage each other.
 

AceNat

Well-Known Member
urm..
thats not how i saw the chief at all..

im assuming you have read all the books right? John comes across (along with the other Spartan II's) as extremely compassionate. their need to save their comrads, including spartans and marines alike..

i would not say at all that he is like a physcopathic killer.. hes been trained and taught to finish a mission, sometimes at the cost of lives. but he certainly feels guilty and its been said in the books that John feels like a mission has failed when he couldnt save his team..

so i have to say i agree with Cadet here :)
 

ODST Blue

Jr Member
I respectfully disagree with you Alix, like many others have already expressed I didn't get the impression that the Chief is a "psychopathic killer". The book "Fall of Reach" portrays a Spartan that understands the value of life and feels as though he's failed when ever a life is "wasted" rather than "spent". Master Chief and the other Spartans are there to do a job and while that job may consist of an extensive amount of killing that doesn't make him a "killing machine", he's just a soldier that's very good at his job.

Oh and just a side note, I feel that being a psych major has no merit here simply because Master Chief is a fictional character, you can't accurately assess a subject that isn't real, that's just my opinion.
 

alix965

Well-Known Member
I love...LOVE how this thread is going. I was going to throw a post addressing the things I disagree with in the above comments but I think I'd rather come back when I have the time to rebut (?) properly. :)
However, I would like to say this.

1) I think we need to remove ourselves from our relationship with the subject John. Meaning we all make allowances, consciously or sub-consciously, for our friends who act weird or who just 'aren't right' (Hell, YOU could be that friend we're talking about hehe) because when that happens, we fail to see the individual as others see him. We accept him/her bumps, warts and all.

2) The SPARTAN program chose these children at the age of 6-7 because this is when a kid is at the cusp of becoming a socialized citizen. As such, they are morally ambivalent. The 'Me First' attitude that Subject 117 displays when first brought to Reach for training is not atypical. Fine, he is corrected and to his credit gets it right quickly, but teamwork in humans is a learned.
Now raise a group of children in a 'bubble' and teach them how to fight and kill and sacrifice each other/themselves for an abstract idea (to a 6 year old) like the survival of humankind, and all the things that may take the 'edge' off a seasoned adult combat vet or a morgue attendant, don't develop. When you strip away all the social things, which a hyper-lethal SPARTAN has in short supply anyhow, the result may not be as pleasing to the average civillian like you and me.

Bungie did an excellent job of investing us in these protagonists.
 

ventrue

Well-Known Member
1) I think we need to remove ourselves from our relationship with the subject John. Meaning we all make allowances, consciously or sub-consciously, for our friends who act weird or who just 'aren't right' (Hell, YOU could be that friend we're talking about hehe) because when that happens, we fail to see the individual as others see him. We accept him/her bumps, warts and all.

2) The SPARTAN program chose these children at the age of 6-7 because this is when a kid is at the cusp of becoming a socialized citizen. As such, they are morally ambivalent. The 'Me First' attitude that Subject 117 displays when first brought to Reach for training is not atypical. Fine, he is corrected and to his credit gets it right quickly, but teamwork in humans is a learned.
Now raise a group of children in a 'bubble' and teach them how to fight and kill and sacrifice each other/themselves for an abstract idea (to a 6 year old) like the survival of humankind, and all the things that may take the 'edge' off a seasoned adult combat vet or a morgue attendant, don't develop. When you strip away all the social things, which a hyper-lethal SPARTAN has in short supply anyhow, the result may not be as pleasing to the average civillian like you and me.

Bungie did an excellent job of investing us in these protagonists.
Oh boy, that must be one hell of an answer you're writing there in Word :)

Anyways, I don't think the kids were taught to be humanity's defenders against the Covenant. When they were taken, the Covenant threat wasn't even present yet. Sure, they were told that they were the best and really important and all that stuff - but I think that was a way to make them docile rather than the core of their training. The deepest core of their training was to obey. There's nothing abstract in that.
 
I'm not gonna type out a research paper like some of you have, but here are some thoughts I have, and I'll post more as they come to me.

When Cortana is first plugged into John's armor in "Fall of Reach", her first remark is something like, "you're not the mindless killing machine the news makes you out to be." John may seem like a wound-up toy soldier sometimes, but inside he's thinking and things affect him.

John also may have a hard time relating to loss of human life in the abstract, as in a planet glassing, but he cares strongly for the humans who are not abstract to him, the soldiers fighting alongside him. Take Johnson, for instance. He's outside the SPARTAN brotherhood John grew up in, but 117 still cares about him, and feels the loss when he dies. That was pretty clear to see. But also, a lot of people have trouble relating to massive but impersonal loss of life. In one of the old Star Trek episodes, Spock says that humans "find it easier to care about the death of one than the death of a million." So I don't know if I would say John is maladjusted in that regard.

These are just some thoughts I had off the top of my head, if I come up with more, I'll post them.
 

Roadkiller

Well-Known Member
... when on descent onto Halo's surface, a marine says, "Are we gonna make it? I don't wanna die, Sir!" Master Chief doesn't say anything, but gives him a reassuring pat on the shoulder ...
This scene may reveal more about 117 than is at first apparent.

Firstly the question is not addressed to the Chief. As a Master Chief, 117 would always be addressed as "Chief" or "Master Chief", not "Sir". Therefore the question must be directed at the pilot or someone else in the vehicle. The fact that the Chief felt compelled to give a reassuring pat to respond to a question not addressed to him says a lot.
 

BEN B023

Jr Member
If you haven't read Ghost of Onyx , i think you should. Because to properly assess John, I think you need to assess the rest and Halsey. Remember they don't have "sexual drive", however it is clearly shown that they feel remorse, friendship, and happiness. John is a born leader remember, VERY competative and this was clearly shown when he was younger. He, like the rest of the Spartans because of Halsey, look at the BIG picture...to save the human race. The mission comes first and you push aside your feelings of remorse and sadness of the death of even your closest friends to get it done. This isn't more shown than with Kurt in the books. In the latest game REACH, after KAT dies, the team pushes on with the mission they don't sit around and get crybaby about it. This doesn't make them pyschos,.......... it makes them the best soldiers we can ask for.
 

Trooper114

Well-Known Member
This scene may reveal more about 117 than is at first apparent.

Firstly the question is not addressed to the Chief. As a Master Chief, 117 would always be addressed as "Chief" or "Master Chief", not "Sir". Therefore the question must be directed at the pilot or someone else in the vehicle. The fact that the Chief felt compelled to give a reassuring pat to respond to a question not addressed to him says a lot.
Dude, that marine looked right at HIM when he said that! And Chief has been called Sir before by the marines, to many times to count. Trust me i have played campaign for halo's 1 2 and 3 at least 100 times each and trust me, they call him sir sometimes. Besides it not like he's gona slap the marine and say " You call Master Chief or Chief, not sir, b***!" Lol XD

To ailx:
As for spartans being pshycos, they ain't. They have showed compassion towards to many people. I know that John is probaly being over used, but remember in Halo 3, how John reacted to Sgt. Johnson when he was dying :'( He was sad, he felt sadness. Johnson was his friend, one that that died in his arms, he tried to incourage Johnson, who still ultimatly died (i am acctualy starting to tear up abit) Spartans are not just killing machines, after all, they are human.

A question to all:
Do Spartans feel love? Did they ever fall in love? I know that the sex drive is taken out, but still, its love. Thats what i have always wondered. Another thing, i think that the sex drive should maybe not have been taken out completly, these soldiers are geneticaly altered, so, if i understand genetics right, there offspring should probaly be born with all of increased strenght, speed and etc. Money saver, i guess, and also it make it alot easier to replace a spartan. All they need is training. Maybe these could end up being like the ancient Greek Spartans. Maybe the possibility of recycling the parents armor when they die, if possible that is, to give that armor to thier offspring, yet again like ancient Greeks. What you all think?
 

Roadkiller

Well-Known Member
... Besides it not like he's gona slap the marine and say " You call Master Chief or Chief, not sir, b***!" Lol XD ...
In real life he would, I've seen it. Well, not the slapping, but certainly a comment that the person in question ought to know proper forms of address.

But I get it, real world military ranks are not equivalent to those in the game and most of the novels. Halo: Flood, having been written by an ex-military man, does a better job at matching up the way the real world military talks to each other.

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On the other matter, if the Spartan genes are recessive, there is a good possibility that any children would suffer from genetic deformities and diseases. Taking out the ability to reproduce probably was a kindness.

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