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Break enchantment's description contains the following:

This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect. [...] If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower.

Feeblemind's description contains the following:

The subject remains in this state until a heal, limited wish, miracle, or wish spell is used to cancel the effect of the feeblemind.

Feeblemind is an enchantment of 5th level or lower that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic. Can it be dispelled by break enchantment, or must one use one of the listed spells?

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Whether a break enchantment spell can remove the effects of a feeblemind spell has been discussed at length with no clear resolution.1 For example, on the Paizo messageboards there's a 2010 thread on the topic that has been marked as a FAQ candidate 10 times, a 2012 thread and a 2013 thread, and a 2015 thread on the topic that has been marked as a FAQ candidate 33 times. Yet, so far as I'm aware, no developer has put forth a formal ruling one way or another.

Both sides have ardent and vocal supporters. To this reader, it seems that extremely general consensus would have a feeblemind effect unaffected by a break enchantment effect, the specific list of effects that can remove a feeblemind effect overriding the general list of effects that a break enchantment effect can remove. In other words, you really should ask the GM.

Even the one instance that creative director James Jacobs (who's usually pretty good on the rules but claims not to be a rules guy) mentions both effects obliquely in the same virtual breath—in this 2015 messageboard post—the results are inconclusive. I mean, sure, his sentence's parallelism has death cured by raise dead, petrification by break enchantment, and feeblemind by heal, but that's a far cry from conclusive proof that break enchantment does not also cure feeblemind.

(While I'm certain the sadly gone Wizards of the Coast forums discussed this at length also—this is a 3.5 issue as well as a Pathfinder one—I suspect this Giant in the Playground forum thread from 2007 probably summarizes the general positions for that game quite well.)


1 Everyone agrees, though, that the break enchantment spell can totally reverse the effects of the reincarnate spell, which is hilarious.

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From a flat RAW and maybe even an RAI perspective, I'm inclined towards no.

Specific trumps general, and were BE a higher level spell than Feeblemind, then I might give it some leeway, but because Feeblemind specifically mentions 4 spells that can be used to cure it and Break Enchantment isn't listed I would say that it doesn't work.

However, fun trumps rules most of the time, and if the person feebleminded is a PC, then that sucks to be stuck playing as and I would (and have) ruled that BE can break it if feeblemind would otherwise last multiple sessions.

But if you're purely concerned with RAW, as far as I know there isn't an official answer, but the standing rules seem to favor that feeblemind can only be broken by the spells listed in its description.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Re "the standing rules seem to favor that feeblemind can only be broken by the spells listed in its description", The research I did after posting the question showed the opposite, thus the answer I posted. \$\endgroup\$ – ikegami Jun 29 '16 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ikegami I also checked a few threads related to the question and it seemed pretty split except on the fun aspect of it. Which is, by far, the most important aspect of the question. I'm completely fine with disagreement, since thats what the community at large is doing, I just wanted to note that the sources I've found were all rather split. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnomejon Jun 29 '16 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ "the standing rules seem to favor..." - Which rules? \$\endgroup\$ – indigochild Jun 30 '16 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild Specific vs General, which was a somewhat core principle in 3.5 and was carried over to PF. find more information here: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/62373/… \$\endgroup\$ – Gnomejon Jun 30 '16 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ikegami And there obviously is, in this case. Break enchantment has a general rule (saying it breaks pretty much everything 5th level or lower), and Feeblemind is a specific rule (explicitly listing out spells that break it). \$\endgroup\$ – Gnomejon Mar 16 '18 at 5:03
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Feeblemind can be reversed by Break Enchantment.

…though it can't be dispelled.

The general case goes as follows: Adam is going about his business, when Bob casts Feeblemind on him. Adam's Intelligence and Charisma "drop" to one, and he is barred from taking various actions.

However, "drop" is not an otherwise defined mechanic (as opposed to e.g. ability damage), and it is not clear how this stat change interacts with other mechanics. Without the list of spells, a strict reading would say there is no way to recover Adam's lost intelligence. With the list of spells, Feeblemind acts like Malicious Spite, in that it provides an in-spell way of recovering.

Feeblemind is also unlike Malicious Spite though, in that it applies this condition without an ongoing spell effect. As such, there is nothing to dispel, so it is not normally possible to nullify the spell's constraints.

Break Enchantment: Break Enchantment can dispel enchantment spells (among others). When dispelled, a spell immediately ends. It doesn't matter if the spell includes some other condition for ending ("lasts until the subject clucks like a chicken," or whatever), dispelling ignores the spell text and ends the spell (unless that text explicitly prevents it).

Break Enchantment's interaction with instantaneous spells is similar: it "reverses" them. (Fortunately, "reversing" is easy to interpret for Feeblemind.) Just like dispelling an ongoing spell, Break Enchantment ignores the spell text's defined means of ending the effects and simply wipes it all away.

A few analogies: Malicious Spite includes this text:

The target can only alleviate the ability damage by acting upon the emotion and performing a spiteful act.

…but it's difficult to argue that this is should mean that Break enchantment can't affect these penalties.

Likewise, a rogue's Slippery Mind ability might go off a round after the rogue had already been affected by Feeblemind. No one would seriously argue that Feeblemind having a defined list of ways to end its effects prevents the rogue from using Slippery Mind; there is likewise no reason to believe that it prevents use of a spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As feeblemind is an instantaneous effect, why would the special ability slippery mind have any effect on it? (That is, after the feeblemind effect has been resolved, the rogue isn't "affected by an enchantment spell or effect" anymore—he's just dumb and unlikable with no magical ongoing effect present.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 9 '18 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Well, that's a good question on its own. SM doesn't say the effect must have a duration in a strong enough language. But the very begining of its description alludes to such a restriction. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Mar 9 '18 at 14:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan instantaneous effects are still effects that affect you, per the language in Break Enchantment (arguable, but I'm advancing that argument because the alternative seems even less clear) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Mar 13 '18 at 1:46
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Yes, because specific beats general, and break enchantment specifically overrides the conditions that would normally prevent it from being used against feeblemind.

Normally, feeblemind's effect could not be dispelled because it's an instantaneous effect. Break enchantment specifically affects effects of instantaneous spells. ("Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect".)

Normally, feeblemind's effect could only be ended by one of the listed spells, so it can't be affected by dispel magic. Break enchantment specifically affects spells that can't be affected by dispel magic. ("If the spell is one that cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or stone to flesh, break enchantment works only if that spell is 5th level or lower.")

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 13 '18 at 21:29
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RAW, No

Rules as written, Feeblemind gives a specific condition for reversal. Namely:

until a heal, limited wish, miracle, or wish spell is used to cancel the effect

So, technically, Feeblemind is an extremely potent spell that is near-lethal to any character that isn't pure melee (and even then it's powerful). This is the deliberate intention of designing a spell that is powerful with limited solutions. The spell description is extremely specific -- spells do not usually list these kinds of things. Of note is that it omits spells that normally counter ability score loss from the usual sources (spells such as Restoration).

Medium-Rare (50% Raw)?

The problem here, as stated, is that Break Enchantment is a later spell than Feeblemind, and we have a rules conflict. RAW, Break Enchantment can end effects that would include Feeblemind. The problem, however, is that as stated in another answer you have a "general." Break Enchantment states:

This spell frees victims from enchantments, transmutations, and curses. Break enchantment can reverse even an instantaneous effect.

Now, the reason this is considered a general rule is that it merely gives a broad list of effect types. It does not use an intensive/inclusive word such as "all" or "every" to emphasize this. This further supports the general nature of the spell.

That said, RAI one can arguably say that Feeblemind is overly powerful and should be grandfathered into the umbrella of Break Enchantment. Without direct clarification from the creators, we cannot say for certain, but there stands a decent case for this.


Personally

As a DM and player, I would say that Feeblemind cannot be broken by Break Enchantment. Here's why:

1) Feeblemind is specific. Generally speaking, when a specific condition is given in the text, that condition must be met...not some other condition.

2) Break Enchantement is a rather general spell and does not state "all" or the like, meaning there is room for exceptions in the specific.

3) "Going to the source" -- Both of these spells are direct (as in, literally word for word) ports from DnD 3.5e. Of note is that in 3.5e they both appear in the Player's Handbook. 3.5e is famous for contradictions, but the Player's Handbook is one of the few places that they kept at least mostly coherent. The wording there remains the same, and considering that Break Enchantment appears 22 pages BEFORE Feeblemind, it would seem that the wording of Feeblemind is designed to be a direct exception to Break Enchantment.

Thus, with these views in mind -- again, I will say that Feeblemind trumps Break Enchantment -- it cannot be broken.

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