Of Drugs and Happiness
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Angel's Soul
Angel's Return
Of Drugs and Happiness




(Or back to School, Wesley)


What happened to Angel when Rebecca slipped him the “happy pill” in “Eternity”?  The explanation given by Wesley was that he experienced a degree of happiness that was sufficient to lift his soul but as it was artificial happiness the removal of his soul was only temporary.  It would return as soon as the drug induced euphoria wore off.  This makes no sense.  I have given a shorthand account of my analysis of what happened in the review of “Eternity”.  Here is a rather fuller account.

 1.  The curse was intended to punish the demon Angelus for killing the gypsy girl and others by making it cohabit the body with a human soul which would feel remorse for the demon's crimes.  The human soul would feel guilt for those crimes and plague the conscience free demon with its thoughts.

2.  If, as I do, you accept that the human soul is a conscious entity quite separate from the demon then, after restoration,  it and the demon must struggle for control of the actions of human body.  It does not automatically follow from the curse that the human soul must be in charge.  It would suit the Gypsies' purpose just as well if the demon continued killing but was just made to feel more guilty each time he did so.

3.  When the soul was in a state of "true happiness" it was unable to fulfil that purpose, the curse simply collapsed and the soul was removed.

4.  The curse, however, was metaphysical in nature.   A drug-induced state of euphoria (I much prefer that word to "bliss") does not equate, from a metaphysical point of view, to "true happiness".  There is therefore no problem in principle with the proposition that such a state will not result in the collapse of the curse.  However, if the drug did not produce a state of true happiness then it should not have affected the operation of the curse.  Angel’s soul should have remained within the body.

5.   On the alternate, if the soul was removed then the curse would, by definition, have been broken and that removal would have to have been permanent.

6.  But let us assume that the soul did not leave the body.  What effect might a drug have had on it?  A state of drug-induced euphoria will reduce if not actually destroy the will of the soul to continue in control of the body.  It seems to me that the following is, therefore, the crucial issue.  What effect would the drug have on the demon which after all shares the same central nervous system as the human soul?  Surely if it allowed the demon to take control of Angel's body the drug would have to have a different effect on the it to the effect it had on the human soul.  I think that such a difference may well arise from the effect that the drug has on inhibitions.  I looked this up in my Encyclopedia so I take no credit for what I reproduce here but I find it very interesting.


 in psychology, conscious or unconscious constraint or curtailment of a process or behavior, especially of impulses or desires. Inhibition serves necessary social functions, abating or preventing certain impulses from being acted on (e.g., the desire to hit someone in the heat of anger)

Psychoanalytic theory views inhibition as a largely unconscious mechanism that mediates between the superego (the conscience) and the id (primitive desires).

An extreme lack of inhibition may be antisocial and a symptom of certain mental disorders, particularly behavior disorders, sociopathic personality disorders, and schizophrenic disorders.

The ingestion of alcohol and certain drugs, particularly sedative-tranquilizers (e.g., chlordiazepoxide and diazepam), hypnotics (e.g., flurazepam), and certain narcotics, may reduce inhibitions. The effects will vary from person to person."

7.  The desire of the soul to restrain the demon from killing is a form of inhibition and would be reduced by the effect of the drug.  The destructive impulses of the demon would, however, be a manifestation of an extreme lack of inhibition.  A tranquilizer may, therefore, have no effect at all on those impulses, thus allowing the demon to gain the upper hand in the struggle for control of the body.

8.  This is what I think happened.  Textually it seems to me that it was made pretty clear that the demon did indeed return.  "I'm free. You freed me."  "Call me Angelus" etc.  More importantly, however, I do not think that a mere suppression of the normal inhibitions in a human soul could be responsible for the behavior we saw here.  That was deeply sociopathic.  Unlike GD2 Angel's actions were not derived from the physical nature of the vampire but from, for want of a better word, its personality and that must mean the demon or human soul, either individually or in combination.  Unless you attribute that behavior to the demon it seems to me you are then forced to conclude that the source of the sociopathic behavior was the human soul.  Quite frankly I doubt that any drug could be responsible for the sort of change we saw: a malevolent enjoyment of fear and the thought of causing pain and death.  That seems to me to be of a quite different order and nature to the sort of dark emotions that normal humans would be prey to.  It is, however, entirely characteristic of the soulless demon Angelus.


Added Sunday, September 17th 2000