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Author Topic: Liao mental instability  (Read 2038 times)

Drewbacca

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Liao mental instability
« on: 15 October 2021, 08:12:16 »
The Kuritans have a reputation for being brutal, even the Van Rohrs were fairly brutal, and I would say deviousness is a trait that pops up in the Steiners. Even the Camerons had a tendency to be self-absorbed with superiority complexes.

But it seems the Liaos are often down right insane. I got the feeling in some of the later Jihad books that even Sun Tzu was starting to develop a god-complex. Add to that the fact that A LOT of fiction goes into detail on how life in the Confederation under the Liaos is far from pleasent.

From Elias to Daoshen, there seem to be more bad apples than good ones.

Is this a case of, "we need a bad guy?" syndrom or more "Hey, here is a story thread we can use to add character to the Capellan Confederation"?

Middcore

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #1 on: 15 October 2021, 09:19:52 »
I would submit that the seeming predilection of Liaos for mental instability is as much the result of the structure of the Capellan state as it is any scientifically identifiable hereditary trait.

When you're handed absolute power and called "celestial wisdom" for long enough, yeah, good chance you're going to lose touch.

ErikModi

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #2 on: 15 October 2021, 11:21:02 »
I think you also have to factor in the time BattleTech was first conceived.

In the mid-80s, Communism was The Threat, and while the USSR was the big one everyone talked about, Communist China was also a pretty big concern.  The 80s also weren't that far removed from the "Yellow Peril" stereotype that created characters like Fu Manchu, Ming The Merciless, Marvel's The Mandarin, and many others.  The Capellan Confederation neatly slots in there, so having their leaders be insane as excuse for them to indulge in Stupid Evil Bond-villain-esque schemes is no real surprise (similarly, the 80s were not that far divorced from World War II, so the Draconis Combine's more villainous portrayals in early books and the parallels between them 1930s/40s Imperial Japan can safely be said to some issues being worked out in fiction).

More balanced views have been taken since the 90s, which is good, but the Capellan Confederation has been "the bad guy" for so long it's pretty hard to shed that image completely (and, if I may put this as delicately as I am able, relations with modern China are complex).  Long-time fans just expect the Capellans to be up to no good, and their leader to likely be less than in full possession of his or her mental faculties, and one of the first things a fan new the franchise is likely to learn is that "if there's trouble, nine times out of ten there's a Capellan scheme behind it."  So they're unlikely to shed their reputation for villainous scheming and insanity any time soon, but more nuanced views on the nation are available to be sought out.

It will be interesting to see if, as understanding and awareness of mental health issues continues to increase, the presentation of House Liao in BattleTech will change, and if so, how.
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Fallen_Raven

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #3 on: 15 October 2021, 11:42:14 »
I would note that many of the novels show the Liao family being rather normal for high level aristocrats who have been under extreme stress and facing military annihilation. Their behaviors start out paranoid because their family members are worried about assassinations and conspiracies which are often real (and motivated by the extreme action brought on by paranoia). Both Candace and Danai proved to be very competent and rational people once they were taken out of that environment. So I would say that its less a matter of the Liao being insane, and more a matter of the upper echelons of the Confederations government requiring some very maladaptive behaviors to survive. The result might be the same, but the solution to the problems is very different.
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butchbird

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #4 on: 15 October 2021, 14:46:58 »
If you managed to strengthen your empire against all odds and then lost it all after an inhuman gamble of yours had fizzled as it was about to succeed, you'd lose it too.

If you managed to rebuild an interstellar empire on the brink of extinction and fashion it into a revigorated and doubled-in-size version of what it was 30 years ago, you'd lose it too.

All houses have their own unhinged loons, but house Liao has had a particularly heavy case of "ups and downs" in the 31st century...and of course the nature of their government might have something to do with the perception of most people...but never forget that with citizenship comes free education and healthcare, and that's quite the show of a "humane" line of leaders.

five_corparty

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #5 on: 15 October 2021, 17:34:04 »
Concur all, with the addition that I do feel that Maximillian Liao did have untreated mental health issues- I do feel that they would be handled a bit more responsibly if written today, however, while they were used as a plot device, it was more than just "typical" stereotyping of the era and making the CapCon the big bad.  (if that's not clear because tone is hard to convey on the internet and this is a bloody complicated topic, please give me the benefit of the doubt, I am agreeing with the above posts. :-)

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #6 on: 15 October 2021, 19:18:27 »
Maximilian was actually diagnosed with manic-depression (If I remember correctly that was the one)...Only the celestial wisdom knows just how much this affected him though, after all I suppose it depends on the level of control that could be applied to this illness in his time...

Also, pretty ironic how the "main antagonist" of those years was acually the weakest of the 5 great houses.

Starfury

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #7 on: 28 November 2021, 14:17:48 »
It's also noted by RAF intelligence in either Wars of the Republov or Turning Points the Capellan Crusades that Sun Tzu's deteriation or instability may have been brought on by external factors such as poison or engineered parasitic organisms. When you look at BT history, insanity amongst all of the ruling Houses is also more common then we think, ranging from the Master and his generation of Mariks, to Katherine Steiner Davion's assassination of her own mother, the Alessandro Steiner's quest to kill his niece, the first Davion Civil War in the 2500s, and the Von Rohrs line in the Draconis Combine.  Liao simply gets the main focus due to Max and Romano. Sun Tzu was an excellent leader by all accounts.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #8 on: 28 November 2021, 14:43:48 »
We also have the condition of constant paranoia as each Great House ruler is under constant threat by hundreds or thousands of well resourced opponents who either want to take their place or position a pawn on the throne for their own benefit.
 
Alessandro was in a vulnerable position after his military failures and his attempt on Katrina was actually meant for her husband, a high ranking member of Heimdall and thus a threat to his continued reign. That's a dastardly but understandable political move.

Nothing about KSD's actions is attributed to insanity in fiction. She's just a cold probably sociopathic individual like Alessandro and many other Steiners, Loki is feared and Heimdall exists for reasons beyond the latest Archons. We know little of her development, and why she behaved as she did other than she likely pals with equally ambitious individuals, like say a certain Duke of Skye. Her reign was unstable as it was mostly predicated on "alternate interpretation's" of the law. Her brother was either ill-advised or foolish based on his decision to give his unprepared little sister Yvonne regency while he went to play house with Omi on Luthien (a planet equalling Tharkad in assassin density) and be a hero on BULLDOG instead of trusting the FedSuns to the Prince's Champion, who ultimately was unable to stop Katherine's plans to claim Yvonne's regency by her own invitation.

The Master was born into a situation rife for civil war with far to many siblings willing to fight each other to claim the throne. He was almost assassinated by his cousin, likely affected by PTSD, radicalized by the Word within COMSTAR, didn't want to be Captain-General, and by becoming cybernetic ostracized from his people due to their aversion to cyborgs. Not insane necessarily rather maladapted.

idea weenie

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #9 on: 28 November 2021, 14:48:26 »
To me one of the main details about the Liao leaders sheer stress they are under due to their positioning between the Federated Suns and the Free Worlds League.

On both sides it is bordered by much larger states, who if they ever managed to ally would be able to crush the Capellan Confederation like a grape.  So the leader of the CapCon has to play a careful balancing game where at least one of the two neighbors is distracted by another empire or internal problems.  That allows them to shift forces to face the empire that seems to be about to attack.  On the rare times when both neighbors are looking elsewhere is when Liao has a breather and can rebuild its forces.

So the leader of the CapCon needs to be kept up to date on threat assessments, constantly be on the lookout for potential problems, and has to try to predict what their neighbors will do before the neighbors even do it.  Now combine that with a few internal threats from family members wanting to be in charge, other family wanting to remain in charge, aso.  Liao's diplomatic goal is essentially "let's you and him fight"

Lord Harlock

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #10 on: 28 November 2021, 15:08:27 »
It's also noted by RAF intelligence in either Wars of the Republov or Turning Points the Capellan Crusades that Sun Tzu's deteriation or instability may have been brought on by external factors such as poison or engineered parasitic organisms. When you look at BT history, insanity amongst all of the ruling Houses is also more common then we think, ranging from the Master and his generation of Mariks, to Katherine Steiner Davion's assassination of her own mother, the Alessandro Steiner's quest to kill his niece, the first Davion Civil War in the 2500s, and the Von Rohrs line in the Draconis Combine.  Liao simply gets the main focus due to Max and Romano. Sun Tzu was an excellent leader by all accounts.

Actually, I'd argue that the main antagonist of the 4th Succession War Era was not the Capellans. Or even the Combine, and it was not the Free Worlds League either. It was always Comstar and eventually Primus Waterly who was the main antagonist of that era. Comstar used every faction to maintain the precious balance of power. Julian Tiepolo just didn't understand the nature of Hanse Davion, but to be fair to Primus Tiepolo, he was a more congenial Primus than his successor. However by Hanse upsetting the apple cart, it weakened Comstar's position. The only reason that it was the Capellans as oppose to the Combine that got the 4th Successor War was the fact that Max had to pull Operation Doppleganger, and that was a gamble on Max's part. And that gamble cost him everything.

Frabby

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #11 on: 28 November 2021, 15:10:09 »
Alessandro Steiner's quest to kill his niece
That's actually an in-universe myth.
In Warrior: Coupé, during the new year's eve reception scene where Morgan Kell makes his grand entrance, there is a scene where Alessandro Steiner himself believably explains to Frederick Steiner (iirc) that the Loki agents were actually sent after Morgan Kell, while Katrina wasn't even supposed to be anywhere near them and got caught up in the situation by accident. (She had arranged for a secret-ish meeting with her boyfriend Arthur Luvon.)
Once the plot was up, Katrina and Luvon and Kell falsely assumed Katrina, not Kell, had been the target because she happened to be a yet more high-profile target than Kell.
Alessandro expressed his regrets about how things subsequently played out, but he was actually not unhappy with Katrina being Archon.
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Frabby

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #12 on: 28 November 2021, 15:17:19 »
Actually, I'd argue that the main antagonist of the 4th Succession War Era was not the Capellans. Or even the Combine, and it was not the Free Worlds League either. It was always Comstar and eventually Primus Waterly who was the main antagonist of that era. Comstar used every faction to maintain the precious balance of power. Julian Tiepolo just didn't understand the nature of Hanse Davion, but to be fair to Primus Tiepolo, he was a more congenial Primus than his successor. However by Hanse upsetting the apple cart, it weakened Comstar's position. The only reason that it was the Capellans as oppose to the Combine that got the 4th Successor War was the fact that Max had to pull Operation Doppleganger, and that was a gamble on Max's part. And that gamble cost him everything.
That may be an argument in-universe, but it's not how the BattleTech universe was developed. ComStar wasn't even a thing in Battledroids or the earliest sourcebooks, and kinda-sorta came out of nowhere when the third Keith novel needed a super-villain that Ricol and Carlyle would have to join forces against.
And then Stackpole discovered them to be the super-villain who even plays the Houses against each other for the Warrior trilogy.
See also this thread: Comstar: good, bad or otherwise?
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Lord Harlock

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #13 on: 28 November 2021, 20:40:11 »
That may be an argument in-universe, but it's not how the BattleTech universe was developed. ComStar wasn't even a thing in Battledroids or the earliest sourcebooks, and kinda-sorta came out of nowhere when the third Keith novel needed a super-villain that Ricol and Carlyle would have to join forces against.
And then Stackpole discovered them to be the super-villain who even plays the Houses against each other for the Warrior trilogy.
See also this thread: Comstar: good, bad or otherwise?

I'd argue that Comstar being the villain dating back to near the beginning with Price of Glory and Sword and the Dagger that it really doesn't matter when the switch was flipped in development probably around sometime in late 1985 to sometime in 1986. Comstar was the ones who were writing the sourcebooks for use by ROM by 1986 with Technical Readout 3025. So to be honest, I'd argue by the time consumers were getting to know the Universe- shadowy Comstar was already there.

Metallgewitter

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #14 on: 29 November 2021, 03:54:51 »
I think that mental health issues are more frequent in the Liao bloodline. I mean just hink about Kalvin the Mad or later Maximilian (though Maximilan's problems might be more from the stress after the 4th SW). And even Sun-Tzu who is more stable had mental issues when he got older. The same also goes for Daoshen who seems to have some form of God-complex. And let's not forget even Kai Allard-Liao had mental health problems right before the Capellan Crusades and later turned into a raging beserker during his rampage through the Capellan lines.

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #15 on: 29 November 2021, 08:57:02 »
I would say that running a dynastic & feudalistic star empire responsible for billions if not trillions of people with one person as it's titular head is pretty much a guarantee of some form of insanity by early adulthood irrespective of genetic issues.

Being in a constant state of immense stress and with the feudalistic nature of the BT Universe - where killing off people is a proven choice of advancement in the power structure - would mean that from an early age ruling families would be essentially be emotionally stunted or fractured. Paranoia, god complexes, being out of touch with reality, trust issues would all be the norm. Most people in the BT Universe would have several issues - most common would be a pronounced issue with imminent invasion and xenophobia if not down right paranoia. When your world could be obliterated in any given moment (during certain eras like 1st/2nd SW & Jihad), to invasion from space at any moment (3rd/4th SW, Clan Invasion, Dark Ages) everyone would be looking for the first signs of such.

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #16 on: 29 November 2021, 10:43:39 »
I would say that running a dynastic & feudalistic star empire responsible for billions if not trillions of people with one person as it's titular head is pretty much a guarantee of some form of insanity by early adulthood irrespective of genetic issues.

Especially with how Liao- at least under Sunny & Daoshen- goes in for the 'individual is the living embodiment of the state' mentality with some nobility.  Basically, the same reason why a queen's infidelity was considered treason; it threw the succession and thus stability of the realm into doubt.  Throw in the need for paranoia and how the military situation has sat for them between the FWL & FS.  When you also include Romano's inheriting a drastically smaller realm with the 4SW & SIC losses, some of this becomes explainable.
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Dahmin_Toran

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #17 on: 29 November 2021, 18:10:16 »
In the House books, it was written that the Steiner line had a hereditary mental condition called Dowbrowski-A (or something like that) That caused some Archons to go insane.

Lord Harlock

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #18 on: 30 November 2021, 17:55:10 »
In the House books, it was written that the Steiner line had a hereditary mental condition called Dowbrowski-A (or something like that) That caused some Archons to go insane.

And then there was the mental instability brought on by the stress of the FedCom Civil War on Duke James Sandoval and the the megalomania of Duke Michael Hasek-Davion, it’s a wonder when you throw in the Steiner blood how Caleb of many Names got through to adulthood.

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #19 on: 30 November 2021, 18:27:25 »
And then there was the mental instability brought on by the stress of the FedCom Civil War on Duke James Sandoval and the the megalomania of Duke Michael Hasek-Davion, it’s a wonder when you throw in the Steiner blood how Caleb of many Names got through to adulthood.
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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #20 on: 30 November 2021, 20:31:40 »
And then there was the mental instability brought on by the stress of the FedCom Civil War on Duke James Sandoval and the the megalomania of Duke Michael Hasek-Davion, it’s a wonder when you throw in the Steiner blood how Caleb of many Names got through to adulthood.

And also removed from any serious responsibilities when he started partying in college (along with the neural tests)?
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Dahmin_Toran

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #21 on: 02 December 2021, 00:36:10 »
I think the major reasons for perceived instability of House Liao only stems from more recent rulers (Maximillian & Romano - although her paranoia is well understood) and Davion propaganda. If you go back in history, House Liao rulers are no more insane than other Houses. Sure you had Kalvin, but then you also had Etienne, Claudius, and Jinjiro.

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #22 on: 02 December 2021, 04:30:46 »
Apparently, mental instability at all levels of government has been a known issue in the BattleTech universe for quite some time.  The Davion sourcebook mentioned that ComStar researchers had identified a large lizard whose glandular extracts had been proven to put even the most psychotic public official on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately, the lizards' natural habitat had been largely destroyed by the Succession Wars, putting the lizards on a path to extinction.

Since that was written in 3025, and we still have people like Caleb in the 3130s, it looks like even the Pax Republica didn't result in mandatory injections of lizard "peace out" extract for the leadership of the Inner Sphere.
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BrianDavion

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #23 on: 12 December 2021, 13:48:53 »
This actually touches on a big of a issue of mine with battletech as a whole. it's treatment of mental health. MWDA got sliiightly better in that many "Crazy people" actually seemed to suffer from reckongizable mental illness (I give almost all the credit for that to Ilsa Bick being on board)  TBH I hoipe they just stop with the insane leaders. Battletech does a pretty poor job of it. we all know an insane leader is just an excuse to hose a faction

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #24 on: 13 December 2021, 18:37:06 »
I would submit that the seeming predilection of Liaos for mental instability is as much the result of the structure of the Capellan state as it is any scientifically identifiable hereditary trait.

When you're handed absolute power and called "celestial wisdom" for long enough, yeah, good chance you're going to lose touch.

I'm going to "me too" this.

Liaos show fairly normal levels of mental stability compared to the other Houses up through Max Liao. However, at that point they tend to start picking up nuttier Chancellors.

Max Liao was at the culmination of his predecessors' removal of checks and balances in the Confederations' government. He had few responsibilities to the people that could not be met by propaganda. He crippled the Free Worlds League with a civil war. He was well on his way to arranging a civil war in the Federated Suns. He thought the crown of the Star League was within his grasp and had no signs that anyone could stop him. Then in a short span: betrayal (him! the master schemer! betrayed by his own spy), betrayal (his daughter!) and, holy crud, the loss of more planets in a shorter span than any part of the Succession Wars before.

Max Liao's sudden encounter with the AFFS, 3028, colorized

Yeah, after that he wouldn't be right. Look at Stalin's meltdown when WW2 kicked off. No genetic anomalies (like the Steiners) required for Mad Max to be a bit wacky.

Max's immediate successor, Romano, had grown up at the pinnacle of power and privilege, so she wasn't a healthy character to begin with. Then she had to rebuild the steaming wreckage of the Confederation - IIRC, the Capellans didn't have a working 'Mech factory until 3034 - while utterly paranoid about the betrayals of the Liao inner circle. Again, no weird genes required.

Sun Tzu cleaned up his mom's mess, reclaimed worlds from the Federated Suns, reclaimed the St. Ives Compact, built the CCAF to a level and strength and technology unknown for generations, cleaned up the Jihad's mess, built an alliance out of overlooked Periphery states - yeah, he had reason for pride. The propaganda machine that had worked for years around Sun Tzu had no trouble blessing him with godhood.

Most of the other Houses kept a leash on their rulers through various means. The FWL's Captain-General answered to Parliament. The Kuritan Coordinator was a traditional, long-reigning monarch - rarely giving direct orders so that bad results didn't blow back on them. The First Prince of the Suns ruled through the Crucis Pact, which made the US's  Articles of Confederation look like a tightly centralized autocracy. The Lyrans had the Estates General, Council, and Royal Court tying their hands. When those leaders showed signs of mental problems, it tended to have physical roots.
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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #25 on: 14 December 2021, 01:50:31 »
there is somerthing to that given that Danai is, PTSD aside, proably the most mentally balanced Laio we've had as part of the main ruling line.. and she was raised outside the CC. this makes her differant from your average Liao as she doesn't have the same "the state is everything.... ohh and I am the state" mentality. hence why "Blood will tell" features Daoshen sending her on a "Yay fascism!" tour of a dam on Sian.

smcwatt

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #26 on: 14 December 2021, 09:42:22 »
If you follow the other branch of the tree, Kai Allard-Liao suffered from dementia, and it makes you wonder about David Lear's state of mind as Stone's primary advisor.

SMc.

BrianDavion

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #27 on: 14 December 2021, 11:33:49 »
Demintia is something that can happen to anyone, not really worth mentioning in this. As for David Lear given he was in the blakist concentration camp I think it goes without saying he had some..... issues.

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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #28 on: 14 December 2021, 18:28:35 »
Romano was portrayed as being fairly delusional in the Warrior Trilogy, IIRC.That doesn't indicate a genetic predisposition towards insanity, just that she was raised to believe that reality should bend itself to accommodate her.

As far as Kai goes, dementia isn't actually a mental disorder, it's just a collection of symptoms that commonly go together.  There are a lot of things that can cause it, including repeated head trauma and old age.
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Re: Liao mental instability
« Reply #29 on: 24 December 2021, 21:26:10 »
I think that mental health issues are more frequent in the Liao bloodline. I mean just hink about Kalvin the Mad or later Maximilian (though Maximilan's problems might be more from the stress after the 4th SW). And even Sun-Tzu who is more stable had mental issues when he got older. The same also goes for Daoshen who seems to have some form of God-complex. And let's not forget even Kai Allard-Liao had mental health problems right before the Capellan Crusades and later turned into a raging beserker during his rampage through the Capellan lines.
Not like it's all that odd really.  I mean look at the Hapsburgs, or the Elamites, or several of the Roman Imperial dynasties, or some of the English monarchs.  Inbreeding and stress does a number on mental health.