Monday, December 8, 2008

What is Desensitization?

A couple weeks ago, I reviewed the popular teen novel Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, and in it I mentioned the problem of desensitization. But what exactly is that?

As the word itself indicates, it means to lose sensitivity—that is, you can no longer tell apart two very different, even opposite, things.

Remember the science experiment with apples and potatoes? In that project, someone was blindfolded and their nose plugged. Then you gave him slices of potato and apple. If the done right, the person could not tell them apart.

The same thing can happen in fiction.

However, unlike the apple-potato experiment, true desensitization is usually a gradual process, occurring over several books or movies. (Although as Twilight showed, you can progress rapidly if properly handled.) And since the five stages of desensitization happen slowly, the reader is often unaware of the problem.

But the result can be devastating. By the time you reach the fifth stage, you are not only calling good evil and evil good, but like a drug, you crave more and more of the very thing hurting you.

And that is what desensitization is.

1 comment:

Brandon Barr said...

Preach it sister!

I think being a Christian in our culture is a continual precess of reclaiming a right sensitization towards all numbers of things. We are raised to accept so many things that were not acceptable in generations past.

I find the most devastating desensitization occurs subtly, as you've already suggested. It flies in under our radars, and then WHAM...the Evil disguised as good cements in our psyche's