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When you write about fear, the most obvious research is inside your own skull.

I’ve long been fascinated by ethical questions of counseling, psychiatry, and any pharmaceutical attempts to shape and “improve” human behavior. But maybe “fascination” is too weak a word. Combined with the growing influence of government, it’s an easy leap to see how treatments designed for our own good can be manipulated toward a different goal.

When I began researching post-traumatic stress disorder a few years back, I discovered the President’s Council on Bioethics (name has since changed, in typical government fashion). The council had debated such issues and, while arriving at no single conclusion, it pointed out the slippery slope of changing people’s minds.

What if we had a drug that helped people forget trauma? That would relieve thousands of soldiers who suffer lingering effects from combat missions. It could help car accident victims, and victims of rape, and perhaps those plagued by memories of childhood abuse.

But bad memories are also useful. If we didn’t remember that touching a hot stove eye burned our fingers, we might soon have charred black stumps on the ends of our arms.

And what about losing “good memories” in order to take away “bad memories”? What is our past but the sum of memories?

All those issues are hairy enough, but then suppose it is outside agencies making those decisions? Trusting a medical professional is risky enough, but what if that is extended to a pharmaceutical company’s best interest? What if the best interest is a profit motive? What if it’s a larger effort by a government or ideological movement?

That scares me to death. So I rolled that paranoia into the thriller LIQUID FEAR, where survivors of a secret clinical trial testing a fear-response drug discover the experiment never ended. The sequel, CHRONIC FEAR, explores the meaning of identity and personal responsibility, as well as the spiritual aspects of identity.


Scott Nicholson is the international bestselling author of more than 20 books, including THE RED CHURCH, SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD, and DISINTEGRATION. He’s also written six screenplays, three children’s books, and 70 short stories. LIQUID FEAR and CHRONIC FEAR are published by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint. The third book, SECRET FEAR, will appear in 2012.

To learn more about Scott, please visit his website.

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