In Steelheart, we learn that

Prof is a very powerful Epic that limits the use of his powers so he isn't corrupted by them.

In Firefight, it is confirmed that when Epics first become Epics, they go into a rampage, killing everything indiscriminately. This seems to happen to pretty much all Epics when they receive their powers. However,

Prof does not have this problem in the beginning, and the powers don't overcome him until the end of Firefight.

Why does he not go insane at the beginning like everyone else?

  • Not certain, but Prof already had his powers by the time of the story, and had been actively using them. Are you certain he didn't kill back when he gained his powers? Also have you read the third book yet? – Zoredache Jun 22 '17 at 21:29
  • @Zoredache Yes, I've read Calamity. – Neithan Jun 22 '17 at 22:00
  • So if you have read the third book, can't we just assume that David was an unreliable narrator in Steelheart, when you consider what happens to David at the end of Calamity? – Zoredache Jun 22 '17 at 22:56
  • Doesn't that blurb about the Rending come from Regalia, who is pretty much manipulating every major character at that point? – Radhil Jun 23 '17 at 14:32
  • @Radhil Good point. She does seem to be pretty accurate about most of what she says, though. – Neithan Jun 23 '17 at 14:36

The books are fairly clear that becoming an Epic does not make someone evil. Instead, it just makes a person more prone to feelings of superiority, and more ready to anger.

This is a result, of course, of them channeling Calamity's image of humanity as being selfish and violent.

As noted by DafyddNZ, it's well established by the third book that using the powers sparingly helps protect a person from going crazy, and you can "gift" your powers to others without suffering from the effects.

As for why the Professor managed to come back from the edge initially, I believe that it's due to his unique fear.

The Professor's greatest fear is of failure. When he first gained his powers, he sought to be a hero and it's indicated that he failed. I think that encountering that fear led to his powers temporarily deserting him, and facing that fear gave him some degree of mastery over it, allowing him to learn how to avoid the effects by giving the powers away. However, he never truly faces his fear, repressing it and refusing to speak of it, so when he yields to using his power once more, it takes him over.

So, in short, he probably did go crazy initially, but the circumstances of his fear led to him staving off the effects until he fell off the wagon again.

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As I understand the Epics, there are 2 types. Those who have the powers and can only use them themselves, and those who can gift their powers to other people like the Prof and Conflux.

Both the Prof and Conflux do not exhibit psychopathic tendencies like other epics because they gift their powers to other people. When using his powers during the final fight with Steelheart Prof does start to get a bit testy, and after Firefight starts to use her powers she also starts to exhibit Epic behaviour patterns.

Disclosure: I have not read Firefight and Calamity yet.

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  • My confusion is over what happens in the very beginning of an Epic. Prof did initially use his powers for himself a lot without going bad. – Neithan Jun 22 '17 at 23:58
  • As I mentioned I have not yet read the final 2 books, however, the first book does seem to strongly indicate that the use of the powers causes the evil behaviour. I was thinking first use of a gifters powers would be as gifts and not cause the normal Epic bloodbath. But as Zoredache has mentioned in the comments, Prof's past is not fully explained, at least in the first book. – DafyddNZ Jun 23 '17 at 1:09
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    @Neithan - Gifting powers makes them much less dangerous. That's why Prof does it so much. Also, Prof wasn't the only one. Regalia, Murkwood, etc...they all were able to cooperate and not go crazy for a while. Eventually, of course, excessive use of their powers got the better of them. Some people fall much more easily than others. Most don't have enough presence of mind to avoid killing people at first (and we don't know that Prof didn't), but there's wide variation. – Adamant Jun 23 '17 at 5:58
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    The psychopathy manifests a little differently in each person, too. Some Epics are casually violent (Steelheart) whereas some are more coldly selfish (Regalia). – Adamant Jun 23 '17 at 6:02

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