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The Rambling Soapbox

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The Imp of the Perverse

I am often tempted (dare I say, "haunted"?) by "the Imp of the Perverse".

Edgar Allen Poe wrote about "The Imp of the Perverse" in a short story of the same title in 1845. He described this little demon as the insane desire to jump off a cliff, just for the experience, albeit brief. The 1959 Twilight Zone episode, "Escape Clause" also highlights this facet of human nature, in a tale about a hypochondriac who makes a deal with the Devil for eternal life. The hypochondriac REALLY had the Imp of the Perverse whispering in his ear!

This imp is the one who whispers in your mind, trying to convince you to read that awful story on Facebook about abused animals, after which you feel just as bad as you knew you would, and wonder, "Why did I read that when I knew what would happen?"

Or when you watch that terrible TV show (and you knew it would terrible) out of sheer "perverse" curiosity, even though now the show is over you feel guilty about the time you wasted and the garbage you filled your brain with.

The Imp of the Perverse is that anti-rational, purely emotional craving for a thrill that defies reason, logic, and common sense, like the time I jumped into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan just because it was there. He just might be the reason curiosity killed the cat, and why people ride roller coasters.

Have you had any encounters with "The Imp of the Perverse" recently?

Read The Imp of the Perverse online

Learn more about the short story on Wiki: