“Stimuli pertaining to death can be regarded as a subset of the larger set of stimuli that elicit avoidance or distress responses.”
(R. Kastenbaum & R. Aisenberg, The Psychology of Death, p42)
The sight of me with my knife,
the touch of the knife,
can be regarded as members
of a subset of the set that includes
the sight of me with my whip
which elicits avoidance
or the touch of the whip
which elicits distress responses.
my effective use of the knife
must still be regarded as a member
of a unique set that includes all killers
painless or painful
and elicits no response at all.
Research with a view to establishing
a means of resolving this anomaly,
analogous to testing a prisoner’s reactions
to being in an empty cage,
is urgently needed.