Spiderhead: Are Your Feelings Real?

“Can I Get You Something For How You’re Feeling?”

Official Spiderhead poster

Imagine a world where all of your emotions can be regulated in perfect harmony, with not a single consequence for the number of times one avoids sadness or depression.

That is what Steve Abnesti, the scientist who used felons as his test subjects wanted to achieve by creating and testing drugs that could control the emotions of an individual to near perfection.

Spiderhead is a film revolving around the themes of guilt and remorse and how one should overcome these seemingly impossible challenges the regular person may have to face at one point in their life. However, it has a much bigger question if one chooses to ignore the story it puts across: Are your feelings real?

Consciousness: Mind or Heart?

Scientist standing behind a glass panel splattered with blood

There is always the debate of whether the decisions we make are mostly driven by the mind or the heart. Obviously, we know that it is the culmination of factors revolving around how we think about the situation and about how feel about it as well.

To be put in such a conundrum of what rules over what in the case of which one is the leading factor behind consciousness, we already have a clear winner.

Consciousness is mostly driven by the mind as we can already replicate a small percentage of human behavior into modern artificial intelligence.

However, the case we see in the movie is that the heart would always win in decision-making if the brain is flooded with chemicals that would make thinking feel like a fuzzy experience.

Jeff, who so confidently brought his friend and girlfriend to their deaths due to his drunk driving, made that decision under the influence of alcohol.

Therefore proving that it is only a matter of clarity to make a decision based on thought versus feeling, making the possibility of a human being controlled just by pure emotion a much more possible scenario than imagined.

Chemicals run your emotions

Chemical levels of a test subject

Hormones are the chemicals that reside inside a body that determines the way a person feels. So of course, the movie takes the absolute scientific round by having the changes take place on a hormonal level while keeping a track of heart rates and body temperatures.

Therefore, another conclusion is quickly deduced that a person's base-level emotions can be easily manipulated with a single button.

Therefore, it begs the question of whether what we are feeling right now is a fabrication cleverly designed to make us think we control how we feel about things or whether are we responsible for feeling anger, love, and sadness about what we observe and react to. This brings us to our next question.

Is choice an illusion?

Scientist looking at an island from inside a helicopter

Majority of the time, choices have always been an illusion. Usually due to self-preservation or consideration of another, we build that invisible wall that will not let us choose option B even if it is available to us.

For example, the scene where Mr. Abnesti puts Jeff and Heather in the same room to test out a reaction that seemed impossible to gain... Until the use of chemicals came into the picture. Jeff and Heather both get a good shot of "Luvactin", which is supposed to be a drug to activate lust in a person. Suddenly, two individuals who had no clue about the other were more than ready to get intimate with each other.

Thus, choice is an illusion to the realistic and the pessimistic. However, we still have the optimism on the table to give its side of this discussion.

Memories, psychological and physical

A man and woman holding each other's hands

Perhaps this is all being looked at a lense that does not need to be used. What about the memories? Both physical and psychological. That is the reason we construct the invisible walls that limit our choices.

Some learn not to make the wrong decision through books, some through observation, and some learn it the hard way either by experiencing some harsh accident or consequence that will be engraved in their memory in the form of regret or PTSD.

Therefore from the optimist's point of view, feelings may be influenced, choices may be barricaded, but consciousness has the power to break any of them as long as it is strong enough to do so.  

Your Name: Everyone Needs A Mitsuha In Their Life
“There’s no way we could meet. But one thing is certain. If we see each other, we’ll know. That you were the one who was inside me. That I was the one who was inside you.” – Mitsuha Miyamizu