Synesthete Takes on Psychopath in Novel by Neuroscientist/Writer Focused on Biology of Morality and Aggression
One of the benefits of having a website about the “science of evil” is that, in the course of researching for articles, promoting the site and communicating with readers, I get to come in contact with some very interesting people. Some of them are others who are as fascinated by this subject matter as I am, recognize how important it is and do great work educating people about it.
One of the first such people I “met” after starting this website was Jack Pemment who runs the brilliantly titled Blame the Amygdala site. Jack is an eloquent writer and a graduate student at the University of Mississippi who passionately studies, among other things, the neurological basis for moral decision-making. This includes consideration of autism, psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. He is also investigating the biology of aggression.
All of these subjects lie right at the heart of ponerology and are talked about often on this site.
I highly recommend you check out Jack’s site.
It only took me a short time reading his site to realize that Jack has a talent for thinking and writing about these crucial matters in novel ways. But that was really confirmed when I discovered that recently he released an actual novel about these matters.
It’s called Seeing Red.
As Jack explains it, the novel was spawned from the recognition that people with atypical neurology, who see the world in ways startlingly different from most of us, make for intriguing characters.
And so he created Daniel Harris, a man with synesthesia, a condition in which stimulation of one sense triggers responses in other senses. A synesthete may, for example, experience a visual color in response to a sound or a taste in response to a spoken word. Harris’ synesthesia consists of him experiencing different colors around the bodies of particular people he meets, with each color evoking an associated taste.
What makes the story relevant to ponerology is that Harris’ quirk turns out to enable him to instantly identify psychopaths. Soon he is being engaged in the search for a psychopathic serial killer.
Pemment’s tagline for the novel says it all:
Synesthesia is learning to kick psychopathy’s ass!
I haven’t read the book, but it sounds fascinating and reminds me of one of the great science fiction stories relevant to ponerology, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick, which was the basis for the film Blade Runner. As long as it is done with responsibility, taking care to convey the science with basic accuracy, I think embedding ponerologic science in gripping or entertaining art is a fantastic way to get these ideas out more widely to the public. And having read Jack’s site and seen his writing talent, I suspect Seeing Red will prove worth a read.
Would you like to help support us in bringing you more news and information like this?
Tags: aggression, antisocial personality disorder, autism, biology, blade runner, blame the amygdala, decision-making, do androids dream of electric sheep, jack pemment, morality, neuroscience, phillip k. dick, psychopathy, science fiction, seeing red, serial killer, synesthesia
3 Comments »