Last year a new series began on TNT. The name of the series, Perception, fascinated me enough that I began watching it.
Its story lines revolves around an eccentric neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia, who, because of his "intimate" knowledge of human behavior and a masterful understanding of the way the mind works", is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases (find out more about the show here)
Perception is a good series, I like it... it's smart... it makes you think...
Each episode begins with Professor Pierce asking his class a question. These questions, of course, are relevant to each episode's story. The first episode this season (Season 2 Episode 1 - "Ch Ch Change" can be found here) begins with Professor Pierce showing his class a film clip from the movie Frankenstein, then posing this question: "What is an abnormal brain?" Which leads into the story that begins with FBI Agent Kate Moretti asking Professor Pierce to determine the mental competency of a man being retried for murder.
Sounds ordinary enough... until Pierce finds that the person standing trial is not morally capable of having committed the horrific murder... that he confessed to and undoubtedly committed and was found guilty of committing six years earlier.
It seems that the young man, who had killed his girl friend in a most horrendous way, went for a gum when the police tried to arrested him. During the struggle that ensued, the gun went off and a bullet was fired that passed through the frontal lobes of the young man's brain.
When he recovered from being shot in the brain he was a completely different man.
Most individuals can readily accept that nerve cells govern actions like walking or talking. With a little push, they might even believe that neurons are responsible for great works of art and amazing scientific discoveries. And while some might have some difficulty believing that it is the structures of the brain that determine whether you're a liberal or conservative (Read), it's harder yet to accept that our sense of right and wrong, of moral restraint and societal convention, also derives from the brain and its ability to check... or not... the darker aspects of our nature.
Though Perception's story was fiction it's based on fact. I've read and written about two very similar but true stories. First is the story of Phinas Gage, who went from a mild mannered man with “temperate habits” and a “well-balanced mind” to irreverent and profane in an instant, and the second... of young Stephen, who seemed to have been touched by an angel and instantly diverted from his troubled path.
From my article..
"....Different as their outcomes were, Gage’s tamping rod and Stephen’s gun were both aimed at the what could be called the seat of our soul, our individuality, our humanity. Descartes believed the soul resided in the pineal gland, a small, conical structure deep in the brain, below the frontal lobes, it seems he wasn't too far off. " Continue reading "The Strange Tales of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Phinas P. Gage and Stephen"