The Daily Mail asks "Can we really transplant a human soul?"

Unfortunately they don't answer "No. Of course not. You twat" and leave it at that. Instead we get a nice long ramble.  The crux of their argument is as follows:

For a few brave scientists have started claiming that our memories and characters are encoded not just in our brain, but throughout our entire body.

Consciousness, they claim, is created by every living cell in the body acting in concert.

They argue, in effect, that our hearts, livers and every single organ in the body stores our memories, drives our emotions and imbues us with our own individual characters. Our whole body, they believe, is the seat of the soul; not just the brain.

And if any of these organs should be transplanted into another person, parts of these memories - perhaps even elements of the soul - might also be transferred.

There are now more than 70 documented cases similar to Sonny's, where transplant patients have taken on some of the personality traits of the organ donors
.
This article has come about thanks to the recent story of  Sonny Graham, a 69 year old man who received a heart from man who had shot himself. Sonny went on to marry the wife of the deceased man, and then tragically commit suicide in the same manner. Emotional stuff that isn't to be trivialised.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Sonny Graham and his wife Cheryl, who he met after he had her deceased husband's heart transplanted.

They then back up these propositions with a series of anecdotes. Like this one, which gloriously also manages to promote the Daily Mail view of 'The Family Unit'.
Take the case of Lynda Gammons from Weston, Lincolnshire, who donated one of her kidneys to her husband Ian.

Since the operation, Ian believes he has taken on aspects of his wife's personality. He has developed a love of baking, shopping, vacuuming and gardening. Prior to the transplant, he loathed all forms of housework with a vengeance.

Thankfully they go on to admit that "tens of thousands" of transplants have taken place so you would expect these events to come about by chance. Unfortunately they take this argument down the 'Arrogant Scientists in their Ivory Towers can't understand the human spirit' route:
If Professor Schwartz and his ilk are right, it would destroy one of the foundation stones of modern biology. But then again, modern biology has a guilty little secret: it has, as yet, no viable theory to explain how we store memories and how we produce consciousness.

In fact, scientists haven't even managed to define what exactly consciousness is, let alone managed to pin down where it comes from and where it is to be found within the body.

So maybe, just maybe, the poets, romantics and mystics throughout the ages were right: the heart really is the seat of our emotions and of our souls.

It's not a guilty secret you little shits, it's an exciting and huge area of theories and thoughts that's vibrant and alive and interesting and rigourous. Any scientist who's entered the field want to unlock the secrets of the mind. So stop it with that crap. Scientists aren't ashamed when they don't know the answer. That's what they go to work for. 

But what's really disappointing here is that (despite my initial flippant dismissal, that I stole of Lee and Herring ) this is a really interesting area. The Daily Mail could have written an interesting article about the psychological effects of a transplant. Walking around all day knowing you are being powered by a dead mans heart must effect you. It would deeply and significantly alter your life. As can be seen when a 69 year old man and the much younger widow find each other in the fall out.

It's a powerful, and appealing, belief that the transplanted heart bind them. And in many ways it did. But you demean both the science and crucially the human experience of the people involved when you propose it can all be explained with a fucking "soul transplant."

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

A young widow with 2 older husbands both died by the same method? Sounds like the plot of the film "Black Widow"

Lave said...

Ha, it's more likely than the heart memories at least. Talking of which, how come people with heart disease more forgetful. It's almost like the idea makes no sense!

Hairnet said...

heh, great post, made me laugh out loud!

Lave said...

Thanks!

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