The Journal of Pharmacological Botany
"The Mapping of Psychological Domains, Increased Psycholinguistic Sensitivity, and Logical Synesthesia: Studies of a Sample from the Amazonian Basin."
Timothy North, MD, PhD
It was Leonard Rifkin's essay "Toward a Pharmacological Theory of Metaphor" that first provided the rigorous psychopharmacological theory that formed the basis of our study. We were interested in defining more specifically how Dr. Leary's "domain shift" takes place. Not satisfied with his theory that metaphoric coherence rests in a balance between socially-constructed prototypes and a personal mapping developed "organically" through an accumulation of relevant personal experience, we hoped to conduct a study with other distinctions in mind.
Our experimental group consisted of one orangutan and five undergraduate students, hand-chosen for their varying cultural, academic, and personal backgrounds. The students and orangutan were kept ignorant of one another's existence. All were misled as to the nature of the study, and were told that it was conducted by the office of career placement to assess the mindset of the undergraduate demographic.
Subjects were injected with a 2 mg sample of the tincture under examination, and were left in a white room for an hour. The human subjects were interviewed by a psychiatric examiner - the same individual for all subjects. The interview consisted of questions irrelevant to the investigation (provided to obscure the true subject area under investigation) mixed with questions designed to appear irrelevant, but which were actually \designed to elicit revealing conclusions.
A portion of one of the interviews is reprinted below:
Q: What's your major.
A: I haven't declared a major yet. I'm looking at graphic design.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the nature of time?
A: Time? Time is money.
Q: Interesting. Did you come from a large family?
A: No. I was an only child raised by a single mother.
Q: How would you describe "love"?
A: Love is an economic transaction, basically, a contract.
Other suspects interviewed by the same examiner revealed an astonishingly similar set of responses. It became clear that more research would be necessary in order to draw a conclusion.
First, the same set of subjects were tested again, in an almost identical fashion, by a different examiner. This round of interviewed reveals a striking anomaly: the same subjects responded to the same questions, when asked by a different examiner, in different ways. But, as with the first round of experiments, the subjects all answered very abstract, open questions, with answers very similar to one another.
A sample excerpt follows:
Q: So, how would you describe "time"?
A: Time is flowing like a river. To the sea.
While it is hard to draw any strong conclusions from this round of experiments, evidence suggests that the influence of the sample caused the subjects to respond with a greater sensitivity to the metaphoric-conceptual system of the interviewer. The first interviewer, when interviewed herself, was revealed to be an assiduous workaholic and investor, who had accumulated substantial savings, working several jobs on top of her research assistantship.
The second interviewer was revealed to be a nature-lover and fatalist. This individual, it was learned, had very little interest in financial well-being.
It is possible, based on this, to postulate the existence of a sort of anti-suggestible state - a suggestive state - causing an immediate and highly nuanced sense of the cultural, personal, and ethical metaphor system buried in the language of another person. Unfortunately, our experimental sample was exhausted by this initial research, and more of the substance was not forthcoming as expected. Continued study will have to conducted when more of the substance can be obtained.