Can human emotion be created from substances created in a lab? If they can, should they be used in lieu of life’s experiences? “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Sanders shows a world where this moral ambiguity becomes a reality.
Jeff is a test subject in a pharmaceutical lab creating chemicals that affect people’s behaviors. He’s given Verbulace, a new substance from the lab, which makes him feel a strong sense of love. He falls in love with the only other person in the room, Heather, and they get busy quickly. Once the substance is withdrawn, however, both Jeff and his newly found partner feeling embarrassed about their ordeal. The next day, the same procedure occurs with a different woman, Rachel. The emotions and actions are the same. Jeff wipes the experiences with Heather and replaces them with his time with Rachel. As with the first test, they’re both tapered off Verbulace and are embarrassed.
Jeff, from these two trials, becomes sad, he ponders the experiences with Heather and Rachel. “I guess I was sad that love was not real? Or not all that real, anyway?” His love was strong, he felt amazing. But when Verbulace was taken away, any feeling he had for someone vanished. The substances can create powerful versions of emotions. Piloting a person with feelings rather than the thought they had before. Jeff wants to get back to the high he felt with Heather and Rachel, but without Verbulace.
After such a reading, what would you decide. Would you want chemical that can replicate human emotion to be readily available? Or would you rather have people experience emotions for themselves?