On shows created by Joss Whedon

"Stripping" River Tam's Amygdala

Could the Alliance Create a Psychic?

By Bradley J. Daniels

WARNING: This chapter is about Firefly and Serenity. It’s also
about brains, and a field of psychology known as clinical
neuropsychology, which specializes in knowing about brains,
what they do, and how damage to them affects a person’s behavior. But,
first and foremost, this is a chapter about Firefly and Serenity, which
means it’s written by, and for, viewers of the Firefly ’verse. As such, it
would not be complete without humor (or, at least, what I hope passes
for humor), frequent references to the show itself, and the occasional
Chinese word or phrase. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea and
you wish to skip this chapter and move on to the next one, I won’t be
hurt. I just wanted you to know what kind of ride you were in for with
me for the next, say, three thousand words or so. Dong ma? All right,
let’s get started.

Based on a thorough scientific (and, in all honesty, recreational)
examination of both the television series Firefly and its accompanying
major motion picture, Serenity, River’s psychic abilities appear prominently in nearly half of the fourteen episodes of the television show, and
also play a central role in the motion picture. Some notable examples of
her psychic abilities portrayed throughout the show included her ability

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