"Berserker" rage?

In Viking times, some warriors could supposedly go into a rage/altered state of consciousness that elevated their strength and lessened their susceptibility to blows that would kill an avarage man. Is this really possible?

Another related question : Would the “berserker”-type enhanced strength/durability (if it did exist) be related to the supposed superstrength of some mentally-deranged people? I have always heard that some crazy and/or “drugged-up” individuals could muster strength far beyond what seemed normal for a person of average build. Are these stories true?

Been playing D&D lately?

I can’t speak to Vikings or lunatics, but it’s possible that someone could exhibit seemingly superhuman strength under the right circumstances. No one ever uses 100% of their muscle fibers to make a movement, and one of the big limiting factors for strength is what percent you can use. Even among highly trained individuals, 90% recruitment seems to be the upper limit; for the average person, it’s much lower. Find something that incapacitates the neural mechanisms for limited recruitment, and you’ve got the potential for high strength.

Nope. Just curious is all!

Great now I got this song stuck in my head:

Olaf Oleeson: My love for you is ticking clock BERSERKER! Would you like to suck my cock BERSERKER!

Lacking solid evidence to the contrary, I would expect that the “Berserker” rage is little different from how a football team tries to get the adrenalin coursing throughout all its players prior to the game.

I can’t say whether there’s any “superhuman powers” that come into it, but apparently there’s some evidence to suggest that they were eating Amanita Muscaria mushrooms (red caps with white scales), which caused some altered state of consciousness in which they became largely immune to pain, or some such. It probably wouldn’t be hard to find more information about this out there.

Most amanita mushrooms, from what I understand, will, when eaten, induce a state where the eater is not subject to pain. Unfortunately, the state is rather permanent, and the eater is also not subject to movement, heartbeat, or any of those other inconveniences.

Wiki on Amanita Muscaria

bolding mine

Some, but not all. Amanita Muscaria doesn’t cause death in small doses. Amanita Phalloides, on the other hand, is one of the deadliest mushrooms known to man.

It sounds a lot like the riastradh in Celtic legends. I think it is mainly an adrenalin effect. It does not bestow any superhuman powers, other than those associated with adrenalin

In layman’s terms: We don’t use 100% of our strength because at some point it starts to hurt. I may be theoretically capable of lifting 400 pounds off the ground, but I don’t attempt anything over 200 pounds because any more than that and it hurts. If I can find a way to ignore that pain — drugs, adrenaline, mental conditioning, mindless rage — then perhaps I can use my full strength and lift those 400 pounds. I’m also more likely to attempt to punch a hole in the wall if I’m feeling no pain, or if I’ve somehow blocked my brain’s advance knowledge that doing so will hurt.

Nope. In an untrained individual, the limiting factor is that his (or her) nervous system doesn’t know how to coordinate all of the fibers in a given muscle in one lift. That’s what gets improved with training.

Huh. But how does that explain drug-induced super-strength?

It’s not super strength so much as the fact that a person won’t feel their muscles tearing from strain like they normally would, so they can have a brief outburst of strength that’s more powerful than the normal person. I don’t know about the vikings, but people who have gone insane on a combination of crack and PCP are extremely difficult to subdue because they don’t feel any pain.

There’s also that when someone attempts a blow, they don’t use all of their weight or energy, since they’re saving that for another blow afterwards (or to be able to flee). A “berserk” person may not use that self-limiting conservation and simply continue to fight by running off of adrenalin.

It’s now called “mania.”

I don’t know what exactly causes it, but I can definitely believe that it occurs.

This is a completely anecdotal story, but when I was playing football in high school, I remember one particular part of a game, where I got mightily irritated with the way things were going, and something flipped. I remember the rest of the game as a sort of out-of-body experience- it was definitely a different experience than any of the other games.

Combine that, with the fact that once this happened, I was suddenly much better than I’d been up to that point (or after, unfortunately). I got something like 2 sacks and several tackles during about a quarter and a half as a defensive tackle. I remember not really having to expend much effort to get around their guard’s blocking, and it seeming like I was always in their backfield. I don’t really remember any pain either, which was odd, because as a down lineman, there was always something that hurt a little bit.

Eventually, it wore off or something- I think our offense had an extended drive, and I got a chance to rest for a while.

Still, it was a completely weird feeling, coupled with superior performance and no real pain. I have to figure that the “berserker” rage could be something similar to what happened to me.

I just saw that movie tonight. It’s been in my head for the last hour, too.

Sounds like the Malay concept of amok.