How do we approach the dark side of humanity? The uncanny, the realm of alienation,
horror and the sense of disconnection are aspects of human experience that we find troubling.
While this range of experience is, in many ways, aversive, it is also often associated with a
sense of fascination. While fact is often said to be “stranger than fiction”, in this talk the
subject will be approached initially through the lens of the “double life” with reference to the
fictional work of Robert Louis Stevenson, “The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. In a
clip from the 1930s version, true to Stevenson’s story, Mr Hyde is portrayed as a character
with immature characteristics and dangerous propensities reflecting the notion of a hidden,
beast-like self. A contrasting version is shown in a clip from the 21 st century BBC production
“Jekyll”. The ‘real life’ situation of double lives is illustrated with reference to the institution
of the church and the modern phenomenon of ‘coming out’ in relation to matters once
considered taboo. These are seen to reflect a valuing of self and authenticity over the
maintenance of social convention.