Intercision - Coming Soon to a Universe Near You?
In Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels, His Dark
, the characters travel between many worlds existing in
parallel universes. In one of these universes, the soul, or inner-self
of a human lives outside their body as a spirit-being called a
dæmon which takes on an animal form and accompanies their human
throughout every moment of their life.
In Pullman’s books, it is explained that humans in our own world
have dæmons as well, but rather than physical creatures that walk
beside us, they live within us, speaking
softly in our minds and allowing us to engage in the internal
conversations and debates that make up our thoughts and lead us to
In the first book of the trilogy, The Golden Compass
authoritarian organization seeking to monopolize all knowledge and
subdue their subjects create a process called “intercision”
by which the invisible link between a person and their dæmon is
permanently severed by use of a special guillotine.
The proponents of this “surgery” believe that a
person’s dæmon is the source of sinful thoughts and
heretical knowledge, and view intercision as a sort of
“vaccination” against the ability to sin.
However, as the heroine Lyra discovers, the result of the severing a
person from their dæmon is not a blissful life of innocence, but
a hellish half-life in which unwilling victims of the surgery are left
longing desperately for the irreplaceable missing part of themselves,
while willing volunteers who have undergone the process live in a numb,
zombie-like stupor in which which they are totally complacent and
unable to question authority.
Though in our reality, our “dæmons”, (or rather
everything about us that a dæmon would represent) exist within us
and are safe from physical harm, the possibility of eliminating from a
person what constitutes their dæmon may be a frighteningly real
All types of increasingly sophisticated and effective mind altering
devices and methods have been created over the years, some by well
meaning scientists wanting to understand the human mind, and others by
governments and other organizations to suppress subdue, and control
One of these methods which particularly parallels Pullman’s
concept of intercision is the infamous lobotomy, a form of brain
surgery which was once carried out quite frequently on small children
as a cure all remedy for undesirable behavior ranging from disobedience
to poor school performance. Like intercision, lobotomy was promoted to
parents as a quick, easy solution for all their children’s
difficulties, and like intercision it left many previously healthy
children severely incapacitated.
As famously described by childhood lobotomy patient Howard Dully,
“I've always felt different -- wondered if something's missing
from my soul.”, a statement which could have come straight from a
victim of Pullman’s fictional intercision process.
As our knowledge of the human brain becomes more and more acute, and
scientists learn to scan brains by computer to pick out the precise
sources of specific emotions, ideas, and thought processes, it is no
longer a stretch of the imagination to imagine, for instance, a drug
precision engineered to effect a specific brain function in exactly the
way the designer wishes.
It could start off nobly and innocently, say an injection that could be
administered to a patient struggling with drug abuse that shuts down
the part of the brain which processes and harbors the addiction.
It could then develop into something preemptive to stop addiction
before it has a chance to start, an “addiction vaccine”
that could possibly be required by law for all public school students
as certain vaccines already are in some countries.
While we’re protecting our kids against disease and addiction, how else could we make their lives safer and easier?
After all, its always around those tween and teen years that kids start
being disobedient and picking up all sorts of bad habits, so why not
have the doctor throw in a disobedience vaccine? And In the end,
isn’t it always those silly thoughts and ideas that get kids into
trouble anyway? With a thorough enough understanding of the brain, we
can find a way to eliminate those too.
And that easily we’ve gone from helping a person overcome drug
addiction to accepting that government mandated mutilation of our
children’s personhood is an acceptable measure to keep them
“safe and happy”.
In the film adaptation of The Golden Compass
, the doctors
assure their victims as they prepare to sever them from their
dæmons that intercision is “only a little cut”.
In our world, that same threat to our humanity could be “only a
little shot” from a doctor’s needle, and it could have an
innocent sounding trademarked name and be marketed on television and
radio as to make any parent feel like a monster for subjecting their
children to the hardships of an “unimproved” life and not
doing everything they could to keep their child “safe and
happy” when all it would take is a little shot to make it all
In an increasingly dysmorphic, germ-phobic, vaccine-obsessed society
seeking easy answers to the challenges of the human condition, such an
“intercision shot” could become a state-mandated
inoculation for our children much sooner than we may care to imagine.
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