Imp of the Perverse

Sentence I liked from a book I’m currently reading, The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman:

Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story of the same name, calls it ‘the imp of the perverse’: that nameless but distinct urge one sometimes experiences, when walking along a precipitous cliff edge, or climbing to the observation deck of a tall building, to throw oneself off – not from any suicidal motivation, but precisely because it would be so calamitous to do so.

I hadn’t heard of the “imp of the perverse,” but I remember my relief when I learned it was normal to have this “nameless but distinct urge” and not a secret personal pathology.

3 thoughts on “Imp of the Perverse

  1. I like it! I’ll try to work this phrase into conversation with Amy, making sure to point my index finger up into the air at just the right moment.

    Perhaps a nameless but distinct urge explains why I stayed up to watch tennis until 6:30am last night, er, this morning.

  2. Pingback: Jeremy reads The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman | Beckie and Jeremy Take on the World!

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