Consent in Escape from Spiderhead

In Escape from Spiderhead, the administrators ask the subjects for consent before administering the mind altering drugs. Subjects will say “acknowledge” in response to being asked “drip on” by the administrator. This makes sense as the drugs can influence how one thinks and acts. However, when the subject refuses to give consent, the administrators are willing to forcibly make the subject agree to take the drugs. This is revealed near the end of the story. “…what’s the name of that one? The one where I give him an order and he obeys it?…What good’s an obedience drug if we need his permission to use it?” (75). If Abnesti is willing to bypass the requirement of consent, it’s almost pointless to ask in the first place. As Jeff continues to refuse to consent, Abnesti and Verlaine go through the procedure to obtain the waiver that allows them to give Jeff the obedience drug, Docilryde. During this time Jeff kills himself, but had he still been alive when they returned, they would have given him the Docilryde and continued the experiment without having gotten legitimate consent.

Another time consent is more or less forced is when Jeff meets Heather and Rachel. Considering they were put under the influence of ED556 which lowers shame level to the point where it’s almost non-existent and presumably also lowers inhibitions, consent was not legitimately obtained before they had sex. This is further evident by the fact that they both saw each other as “average” or “normal” before being drugged. Also judging by how determined Abnesti and Verlaine are to complete the experiments, it is clear that consent is not really their top priority.

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