[Carolyn Fusinato, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Matt Hatch, Jennifer Liang]
So, Rand is hearing voices. Is Lews Therin a real entity, or is he a product of Rand's taint-maddened imagination?
One idea is that two minds inhabit Rand's body: Rand and LTT. This seems to be supported by Min's vision of [ACOS: 33, A Bath, 526] in which Rand and another man touched and merged into one another. Rand certainly takes it that way (which should alert the cynical reader to the distinct possibility that this is probably the wrong interpretation :). This theory implies that Rand is relatively sane still and his problems can be attributed to stress, paranoia, fear and another mind trying to take him over and that Lews is completely insane.
However, it doesn't make much sense for LTT to be talking to Rand. If we look at the other people who have lived past lives, we don't see this happening. Mat's memories, whether from other people or of his past life/lives (his pre-Rhuidean memories) are integrated into his own personality. Same with Birgitte - she doesn't talk to "Maerion," she says she was once called Maerion. Furthermore, Birgitte specifically mentions the fact that in all her incarnations prior to the current one, she never knew she was Birgitte reborn - or anyone reborn - until after she'd died. Clearly, then, none of her previous incarnations were in the habit of talking to later ones [Karl-Johan Norén].
Rebirth happens often to important souls. That is the way the Pattern works. If everybody who was reborn had the voice of their last incarnation nattering at them, reborn people would be widely known, but not as heroes-- as deranged lunatics. As Rand's case shows, it's hard to be sane when there's a dead person in your head claiming he owns your body! So, LTT's presence cannot be a simple consequence of Rand being a reborn person.
If LTT is a separate entity, it could imply that Rand is just some poor sod who happened to be born into the same body that LTT was reborn into, and that not Rand, but LTT is the actual Dragon Reborn. OTOH, it was Rand who pulled the Sword that Ain't, not LTT; he hadn't even shown up then.
We have two cases in which we definitely know that two entities coexist in one body: the Slayer combination of Luc and Isam, and the Fain-Mordeth combo. Fain and Mordeth are melding into a single entity over time. We don't know what the hell is up with Luc and Isam. Neither of these two cases, though, have anything to do with rebirth.
The "LTT is real" theory also neglects to explain the fact that there is no manifestation of LTT prior to Rand channeling, and that the "LTT problem" has gotten worse over time. Furthermore, LTT wasn't crazy when he died. Ishamael had healed him with the TP, in order to torment him. However, the LTT in Rand's head is definitely loony.
Another argument against this, proposed by Joseph Rosenfeld, is that, if the Dragon has been reborn over and over through all time (as claimed by Ish and others), there must have been other "dragons" before LTT. Why, then, is only Lews Therin Telamon Kinslayer, the Age of Legends version of the Dragon, inhabiting Rand's head? Why not a whole committee? Counter to this, also suggested by Mr. Rosenfeld: maybe LTT is the easiest to access because he was the most recent. If Rand tried really hard, he could maybe contact the 1st Age Dragon, and the previous 7th Age one, etc. Though, RJ's recent comments seem to suggest against this (see below).
Another alternative is that the LTT personality is the manifestation of Rand's encroaching insanity. "...everybody has been telling him he is Lews Therin reborn, so he starts perceiving Lews Therin is in his head. Not only that, but he finds the voice responds to him. Now he's trying to carry on conversations with this voice. It all seems logical to us, but then it seems logical (sort of) to Rand, as well. I found myself thinking he should tell somebody he was hearing a voice in his head. When I thought how absurd this sounded, it struck me that I had been fooled into thinking Rand was still completely sane." [James Beavens] Then, there is also, "He raised the point that Rand's creeping insanity may manifest in much more subtle ways than the people of Randland expect..." [from Emmet O'Brien's account of Jordan's talk at Trinity College in Dublin in 1993].
This theory is supported by Cadsuane's statement that "some men who can channel begin to hear voices....It is part of the madness. Voices conversing with them, telling them what to do" [ACOS: 18, As the Plow Breaks the Earth, 331]. On the other hand, this doesn't take into account that "LTT" knows things that Rand could never have known on his own-stuff about the AOL, the Forsaken, channeling, etc. In WH, we discover that Rand is getting more than memories and mannerisms from LTT: "Suddenly [Rand] knew he did not have to describe Kisman and the others. He could draw them so well that anyone would recognize the faces. Except, he had never been able to draw in his life. Lews Therin could, though" [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 447].
Semirhage corroborates this (though she was trying to unnerve Team Rand at this point, so take it with a grain of salt): "He's insane...Graendal could explain it better than I. Madness was her specialty. I will try, however. You know of people who hear voices in their heads? Sometimes, very rarely, the voices they hear are of past lives. Lanfear claimed he knew things of out own Age, things only Lews Therin Telamon could know. Clearly, he is hearing Lews Therin's voice. It makes no difference that the voice is real, however. In fact, that makes his situation worse. Even Graendal usually failed to acheive reintergration with someone who heard a real voice. I understand the descent into terminal madness can be...abrupt." [KOD 27: A Plain Wooden Box]
Both the "rebirth" explanation and the "taint" explanation have points in their favor. Both theories have problems, too. The rebirth theory explains why Rand knows things, via LTT, which he couldn't possibly have known on his own--things about channeling techniques, about the Forsaken, and about life in the AOL. However, the voice cannot be solely due to rebirth, because other reborn people don't have the problem, and Rand has presumably been LTT Reborn all his life, and he's only started hearing voices recently. The Taint theory, on the other hand, explains how Rand's LTT problem correlates with Rand's channeling, and has gotten worse as Rand has channeled more and more. Not to mention, hearing voices is generally considered a sign of mental illness, and Rand channels so much that he should be affected by the Taint in some way.
It seems likely that the LTT voice is due partially to the Taint, and partially to the fact that Rand is LTT reborn. The big question is, how are the two factors combining to produce the LTT effect? One possibility is that the memories and knowledge expressed by LTT are some sort of past-life leakage, real effects of being somebody Reborn, but the actual LTT personality is not a separate entity, but something Rand's subconscious constructed, in an effort to push away his own encroaching insanity.
Jean Dufresne expands on this theory, postulating that Rand uses the LTT personality as an outlet for his suppressed emotions: "LTT's voice constantly expresses sadness, laughter, fear, anger - precisely the emotions that Rand tries to avoid making contact with and needs to relearn." Consider the following passage from [WH: 25, Bonds, 481]:
"In his room at The Counsel's Head, Rand sat on the bed with his legs folded and his back against the wall, playing the silver-mounted flute Thom Merrilin had given him so long ago. ... The tune was called 'Lament for the Long Night', and he had never heard it before in his life. Lews Therin had, though. It was like the skill at drawing. Rand thought that should frighten him, or make him angry, but he simply sat and played, while Lews Therin wept."
Another possibility is that the Taint has a special effect on some reborn people. Perhaps the Taint breaks down barriers in one's mind between the present life and past lives/a past life, and causes the past to intrude upon the present's mind, until the past personality actually takes over.
RJ's recent comments seem to support the "half-and-half" theory. From the New York Barnes and Noble signing on January 7, 2003:
Q:The question is, with Rand and LTT, do they have 1 soul or 2 souls in the body?
A: They have 1 soul with 2 personalities. The reincarnation of souls does not mean reincarnation of personalities. The personality develops with each reincarnation of the soul. This is the cosmology that I [cobbled] together.
Though this statement can be interpreted in a couple of different ways, it does appear to put paid to the "LTT is a real, separate soul in Rand's head" theory, at least.
It has been suggested that LTT and Rand are actually talking to each other across time. This is fueled by the fact that LTT sometimes seems to regard Rand as being a voice in his head and not the other way around.
However, this is pretty clearly wrong. First, let's not forget that LTT is insane, and any observations he makes are automatically highly suspect. Second, if the real life LTT were talking to Rand across time it would have to be before the Kinslaying incident, since LTT dies very soon afterward, but the LTT in Rand's head moans and groans about killing Ilyena and the rest of his family constantly. Third, and most importantly, the LTT voice is aware of what's going on around Rand (like being stuffed in a box, for example), while Rand has no awareness of anything happening separately to LTT. It's pretty obvious that Rand is the "real" one [Binh Vo].
(This is way out in left field, IMO, but some people do believe it, so I'll mention it.) There IS a voice in Rand's head, but it is NOT LTT, or Rand being crazy. Rather, it is the result of some skullduggery on the part of the Shadow to infiltrate Rand's brain. Variations on this theme have been Mesaana (disproved by her actual appearance in LOC), Ishamael, and maybe others.
"...Rand opened his eyes for the first time in a very long while. He knew - somehow- that he would never again hear Lews Therin's voice in his head. For they were not two men and had never been." [TGS 50: Veins of Gold]
Assuming that Rand is correct and the voice of Lews Therin is gone, which of the above theories is correct? All of them. None of them. Brandon Sanderson has been quite clear under repeated questioning that Jordan prefered the exact nature of Lews Therin to remain a mystery. So in respect to the original author's wishes, we'll leave it at that.
Question - As a followup question, are the notes about Lews Therin the same notes about the voice of Lews Therin’s?
2 Answer - You know I think that’s enough of a spoiler because there is still confusion or not confusion, wondering from people whether or not Lews Therin is the voice, I mean, of course Semirhage said that it is… Robert Jordan never really made that explicit himself. What I think and what you think may be different and so we’ll just leave it. There are things about this in the book.
The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Borders Dallas 14 November 2009 - Matoyak reporting
Mato: There have been rumors that you have said that Mr. Jordan did not have anything in his notes about the voice of Lews Therin, whether it was a construct or not. That or that you had sai--[cut off]
Sanderson: I would like to clarify this, thanks for asking. I will NOT say that it was not in the notes. However, Mr. Jordan did NOT want to reveal this information, and therefore I shall not ever either. Mr. Jordan did not want to reveal it.
Harriet: What Brandon said.
As soon as Cadsuane mentions hearing voices, in [ACOS: 18, As the Plow Breaks the Earth, 331] "LTT" stops talking to Rand. One thing to note is that Cadsuane channeled while making that statement. The obvious thing she did was fetching the teapot to her, but it is possible that she used the channeling of the teapot to disguise something else she did. Furthermore, the voice reappeared in TPOD. So, we're left with the questions of why did LTT go away? Was it something Cadsuane did? Did he go away of his own volition (was he in hiding)? Did Rand subconsciously suppress him? Why did he come back? Also, what do his disappearance and reappearance signify?
It is interesting to note that this scene marks one of the few times since LTT appeared that Rand truly loses his temper. If Jean's theory is correct, and the LTT personality is an outlet for Rand's emotions, Rand's outburst could have been the cause of LTT's disappearance, rather than anything Cadsuane did. Once he started expressing his own feelings, rather than feeding them into LTT, the LTT personality retreated. However, after that episode Rand went back to suppressing everything, and LTT eventually reappeared.
Perhaps now that Cadsuane has taught Rand "laughter and tears" again, the LTT personality, having lost its purpose, will disappear entirely.