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||An addictive, psychoactive drug.
Also referred to as "Slow Death".
|Fred said, "So what does this mean?"
"I'm sure you know already," the psychologist to the left said. "You've been experiencing it, without knowing why on what it is."
"The two hemispheres of my brain are competing?" Fred said.
"Substance D. It often causes that, functionally. This is what we expected; this is what the tests confirm. Damage having taken place in the normally dominant left hemisphere, the right hemisphere is attempting to compensate for the impairment. But the twin functions do not fuse, because this is an
abnormal condition the body isn't prepared for. It should never happen. Cross-cuing, we call it. Related to splitbrain phenomena. We could perform a right hemispherectomy, but--"
"Will this go away," Fred interrupted, "when I get off Substance D?"
"Probably," the psychologist on the left said, nodding. "It's a functional impairment."
The other man said, "It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.
|Technovelgy from A Scanner Darkly,
by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Doubleday in 1977
Additional resources -
Here's more information about Substance D's effect on the brain.
Back at Room 203, the police psychology testing lab, Fred listened without interest as his test results were explained to him by both the psychologists.
"You show what we regard more as a competition phenomenon than impairment. Sit down."
"Okay," Fred said stoically, sitting down.
"Competition," the other psychologist said, "between the left and right hemispheres of your brain.
It's not so much a single signal, defective or contaminated; it's more like two signals that interfere with
each other by carrying conflicting information."
"Normally," the other psychologist explained, "a person uses the left hemisphere. The self-system
or ego, or consciousness, is located there. It is dominant, because it's in the left hemisphere always
that the speech center is located; more precisely, bilateralization involves a verbal ability on valency
in the left, with spatial abilities in the right. The left can be compared to a digital computer; the right to
an analogic. So bilateral function is not mere duplication; both percept systems monitor and process
incoming data differently. But for you, neither hemisphere is dominant and they do not act in a
compensatory fashion, each to the other. One tells you one thing, the other another."
"It's as if you have two fuel gauges on your car," the other man said, "and one says your tank is
full and the other registers empty. They can't both be right. They conflict. But it's--in your case--not
one functioning and one malfunctioning; it's . . . Here's what I mean. Both gauges study exactly the
same amount of fuel: the same fuel, the same tank. Actually they test the same thing. You as the
driven have only an indirect relationship to the fuel tank, via the gauge on, in your case, gauges. In
fact, the tank could fall off entirely and you wouldn't know until some dashboard indicator told you
or finally the engine stopped. There should never be two gauges reporting conflicting information,
because as soon as that happens you have no knowledge of the condition being reported on at all.
This is not the same as a gauge and a backup gauge, where the backup one cuts in when the regular
one fouls up."
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