What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 71

Chapter 71

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From the princes’ discussion, Han Jiao learned more about Prince Duan’s condition.

Fortunately, the symptoms of Xie Xiu’s Asperger’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder were quite distinct.

A congenital condition like the Asperger’s syndrome could only be improved through long-term training, while post-traumatic stress disorder could be significantly alleviated or even completely cured through external interventions.

The incident where the Sixth Prince beat Xie Xiu might not have inherently caused severe psychological trauma. However, this beating became intertwined with the pain of losing his wetnurse. Each memory fragment in the process could elicit a cascade of painful emotions, explaining why Xie Xiu couldn’t bring himself to get close to Prince Yan once more.

During his elective psychology course, Han Jiao once volunteered to assist juvenile offenders in a local public institution in relieving the mental disorders caused by childhood trauma.

Those extremely problematic youths often grew up in an environment lacking safety during their childhood. This resulted in an overactive amygdala, the brain’s region responsible for detecting threats. They remained in a constant fight-or-flight mode, rendering them highly sensitive to any potential signs of danger or malice.

Because the brain’s edge system for assessing danger operated more rapidly than the frontal lobe responsible for rational analysis, a patient’s anger would often manifest itself before their rationality, making them appear impulsive, easily provoked, and devoid of reason.

Once the danger subsided, the patient’s rationality would return, and through reflection, they may realize that their reactions were excessive, leading to guilt.

In fact, the oversensitivity of the edge system in trauma patients was a physiological issue and could not be self-controlled through rationality. Therefore, they often got trapped in a vicious cycle of anger and self-blame.

On top of that, these patients may frequently face accusations from others of being “impulsive and unreasonable with a bad temper,” which gradually led to self-loathing and a fear of social interactions.

This resulted in situations similar to Xie Xiu’s self-isolation, extreme sensitivity, and numbing avoidance.

Based on the princes’ recollections, it could be concluded that Xie Xiu, before his wetnurse’s death, though displaying some odd and silly behavior, did not engage in intentional disregard or bizarre actions like avoiding his brothers and shouting loudly.

Asperger’s syndrome was quite different from typical autism. In theory, individuals with this condition, often considered geniuses, were willing to participate in social interactions just like everyone else. However, their difficulty in understanding non-verbal cues made them prone to unintentionally offending people.

If Xie Xiu could be rescued from his fears, he could rediscover the meaning of life and engage in things that truly interested him, instead of living as he did – devoid of self, enduring fear and pain for the sake of his younger brother and teacher, leading a numb existence.

To treat psychological trauma, it was essential to identify the source of Xie Xiu’s suffering.

The brain’s functioning could be contradictory at times. To protect oneself, traumatic memories were often fragmented, making the victim attempt to forget and avoid them. However, as long as these pieces weren’t integrated into a whole, the brain would never truly forget them. It was only by piecing together all the fragments of fearful memories and attempting to understand the whole picture that one could truly break free from the pain.

Xie Xiu didn’t want Xie Duo to call someone else “Big Brother.” At first glance, it might seem like he was possessive, like the stinky little brother, but Han Jiao believed the real reason may be different.

Xie Xiu’s fear of the “Big Brother” title stemmed from the beating by Sixth Prince, which shattered his trust in his older brother.

He worried that Xie Duo might also have his feelings hurt by other “Big Brothers” in the future, so he advised, “Be careful, don’t casually call others ‘Big Brother.'”

Xie Xiu believed that he was the only big brother who would never harm Xie Duo, and he couldn’t trust anyone else.

First, he needed to restore his sense of safety with the other brothers.

The princes involved in political conflicts couldn’t be invited, so he had to ask for help from Old Eighth, Old Tenth, and the unpredictable boss.

“So, Prince Duan used to be quite cheerful before the age of eleven?” Han Jiao looked at the Eighth Prince.

The Eighth Prince thought for a moment and corrected, “Well, I wouldn’t say cheerful. He… how should I put it? Seventh Brother used to be a bit reserved, didn’t interact with strangers, but he talked a lot with us brothers. He often annoyed Fourth and Fifth Brothers, got scolded, but didn’t seem to learn from it. Next time, he’d do the same. We had no way to deal with him, so we stopped playing with him. And there were Fourth and Fifth Brothers, who used to bully Seventh Brother a lot.”

Bringing up this topic, the Eighth Prince turned to his two younger brothers, “Do you guys remember those days? Old Tenth was too young, but Old Ninth, you must remember, right? Second Brother didn’t like Old Seventh before leaving the palace, but luckily, he left early. Old Fourth and Old Fifth were afraid of Sixth Brother, so they didn’t openly bully Old Seventh.”

Han Jiao’s eyes lit up. “Did Prince Yan used to protect Prince Duan in the past?”

Xie Duo lowered his head, seeming unwilling to discuss this matter.

“Yes,” the Eighth Prince replied firmly. “Back then, it was Sixth Brother who was the kindest to Old Seventh, right? You can ask Ninth Brother if you don’t believe me.”

Han Jiao turned to look at the big boss.

Xie Duo, however, glanced out of the window, deliberately avoiding Han Jiao’s inquiring gaze and replied in an impatient tone, “I don’t remember.”

Han Jiao hesitated.

The big boss probably didn’t want to discuss these past events. The transition from the harmonious relationship between the two brothers in the past to the current situation had saddened the big boss.

The contrast between the past and the present could be quite cruel.

But this contrast was good news for Han Jiao’s treatment plan, suggesting that before the trauma occurred, Prince Yan had shown genuine care for Prince Duan.

With this foundation, the treatment would be much simpler. Just by evoking Xie Xiu’s memories of his Sixth Brother’s care and affection, the treatment’s effectiveness would be greatly enhanced.

“I understand.” Han Jiao took a deep breath. Seeing the three princes looking at him curiously, he said, “Prince Duan is still upset about what happened in the past. He didn’t scream uncontrollably or suddenly resort to violence before the age of eleven. He has become the way he is now because of his sadness. We can’t let him be sad like this for the rest of his life.”

The reactions of the princes varied.

Xie Jing awkwardly smiled.

Xie Duo kept a cold expression, lowering his head.

Xie An, being young and having had limited contact with his Seventh Brother, asked with a hint of excitement, “Can we help?”

From the reactions of the Eighth and Ninth Princes, it was evident that the princes familiar with Prince Duan had completely lost hope.

The brothers had surely made numerous attempts to help Prince Duan return to normal, but it had no effect. Sometimes it even seemed to worsen the situation.

Han Jiao immediately appeared confident. “Of course, we can help. I’ve treated patients like this before, who behaved strangely because of the loss of a loved one, and I cured them all.”

“This… it can be cured?” Xie Jing looked surprised. “Is there a prescription?”

“No need for medicine. You all need to cooperate with Prince Duan in playing some games. Generally, after about twenty games, there should be improvement. With forty to eighty games, the effects become significant, and it might even lead to a complete cure.”

Xie An exclaimed, “Playing games can cure an illness? What kind of games, please teach me, Master!”

Han Jiao immediately took out the first therapeutic game he designed from his pocket, ready to explain it to the princes. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that the big boss suddenly stood up and left.

“Your Highness?” Han Jiao quickly turned to call the big boss. “Where are you going?”

Xie Duo stopped in his tracks but didn’t turn around. He spoke quietly, “Don’t make a fuss. Seventh Brother isn’t sick. He’s just like that, and no one can change it.”

“I didn’t mean to say he’s sick!” Han Jiao hurriedly got up and caught up with Xie Duo. “He’s hurt. Don’t people who are hurt need treatment?”

Xie Duo took a deep breath and turned away.

Han Jiao wasn’t accustomed to dealing with such a stubborn and despondent stinky little brother who refused to meet his eyes.

The only one who maintained brotherly affection with Prince Duan was Xie Duo. He had tried to change Xie Xiu the most, but every attempt to help had only caused more despair and guilt for Xie Duo.

He had come to accept the reality. Urging him to try again would only bring back the pain of his own despair and guilt.

Xie Duo bypassed Han Jiao and walked out of the academy.

Han Jiao hadn’t expected Xie Duo to resist treatment so vehemently. He was about to follow but was held back by someone from behind.

“Master Xiaobai,” Xie Jing, looking nervous, blocked Han Jiao’s path and advised, “Old Ninth is angry. Now is not the time to engage with him. He’s strong. A single push from him can knock you down.”

“Why did His Highness suddenly get angry?”

“I forgot to tell you,” Xie Jing explained, “You can’t say that Seventh Brother is sick in front of Old Ninth, or that he’s foolish. You can only say that Seventh Brother has a peculiar personality.”

Han Jiao understood and closed his eyes in frustration. “I didn’t mean to say Prince Duan is sick. I meant…”

“I understand, I understand. Seventh Brother is indeed not normal, we all know that. But Old Ninth doesn’t want us to say it that way. Please forgive me on behalf of Ninth Brother.”

Xie An also walked over to comfort Han Jiao. “Master Xiaobai, don’t be upset. Ninth Brother is just like this. He’s usually easy to talk to, but as soon as someone insults Seventh Brother by calling him a fool or saying he’s sick, Ninth Brother gets really angry. If it were someone else, they might have been beaten by now. Luckily, he left. Please don’t go after him. Wait until he calms down to talk.”

Han Jiao nodded in gratitude to the two princes and then asked them, “Do you really believe I can help Prince Duan revert to his personality from when he was eleven?”

“I believe it! Master Xiaobai, you’re amazing!” Xie An, always the most accommodating, was easily impressed.

Xie Jing looked somewhat hesitant and said, “Master Xiaobai, do what you can. If he can recover, it’s for the best, but there’s no need to force it.”

“But the Ninth Prince’s cooperation is essential.”

Both princes fell silent. They knew that this was a touchy subject for Old Ninth, something he wouldn’t easily accept. Who would dare to convince him to participate in “treating” Prince Duan?

“I want to talk to him personally,” Han Jiao was determined. “I kindly ask both of you to allow me to visit Nansan Hall.”

“Don’t!” Xie An hastily interjected, “Master Xiaobai… Ninth Brother can be really scary when he’s angry. You haven’t seen it. We can take you directly to see Seventh Brother, and if Seventh Brother gets upset, we can handle it. But if Ninth Brother gets provoked, even the entire Imperial Army might not be able to protect you.”

Han Jiao swallowed back his tears.

Who said he hadn’t seen it before? In the novel, he was quite familiar with that “hell-level boss who could claim the head of a general among a million soldiers.”

But this matter absolutely required Xie Duo’s help because only Xie Duo made Prince Duan feel safe. Of course, Senior Minister Li could also do it, but could Han Jiao make Senior Minister Li understand his desire to mend Prince Duan’s relationship with his brothers?

It felt like a dead end!

This time, he had to touch the big boss’ sore spot, and…

And, actually, Han Jiao felt that Xie Duo wouldn’t really come to blows with him. Where did that confidence come from? He didn’t know, perhaps he was just fed up.

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