What are your feelings about "human engineering"-that is, changing person intelligence or personality by using science? Explain your opinion, providing reasons and examples from the story as well...

What are your feelings about "human engineering"-that is, changing person intelligence or personality by using science? Explain your opinion, providing reasons and examples from the story as well as your own ideas and experiences to support your answer.

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misstemple1261 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After reading Flowers for Algernon, I see the terrible  human impact of “personality engineering.” I see that Charlie suffered incredible emotional trauma after being manipulated by personality engineering. I see that he felt a lack of control over his own life due to the shifting effects of the experiment and came to rebel against the very scientists who thought they were his saviors. His escape from Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur illustrates this. I also infer that personality engineering is harmful not only to its subject, but to the subject’s family, friends, and loved ones. These people may be shocked and hurt by changes in the person they loved. Alice Kinnian’s character arc illustrates this. She originally supported Charlie’s operation but quickly became overwhelmed and confused by her friend’s new personality. Since Keyes so readily persuades me to sympathize with his main character, after only reading Flowers for Algernon, I might have a dim view of personality engineering.

However, as you answer this question, it’s important to separate science fiction from fact. We are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of years away from a scientific breakthrough that would mimic the exponential intellectual growth that redefined Charlie’s personality. There are government regulations, as well as self-imposed moral rules, that make it impossible for scientists to tinker with a person’s personality in the same way as Dr. Strauss and Dr. Neumor manipulate Charlie’s thoughts and behaviors. To delve deeper into this question, I would urge you to think of less extreme real-life examples that could be classified as “human engineering.” For example, a large percentage of the population takes medication to alleviate medical problems such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and many other ailments. I would tentatively classify these as “human engineering” through science. These medications change how people feel inside and present themselves to the world. Many people are incredibly grateful that these medications exist and would suffer intensely without them. In these situations, many commentators may argue that modifying a person’s personality through science is a moral action that decreases pain and improves an individual's quality of life. 

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Flowers for Algernon

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