Writer Priscilla Long struggles with her sister’s death, related to schizophrenia:
It’s related to genetics, we know that. If you have an identical twin with schizophrenia, your chances of getting it are 40 to 65 percent. If you have a parent, brother, or sister with it, your chances are 10 percent. This compares with about one percent of the world population that suffers from the illness. One percent, though, is not a small number; in the United States it amounts to about three million people. The most severely afflicted find it difficult to get up, get dressed, eat, go to work, come home. They barely function. Susanne, once intelligent and competent, graceful and well appointed, could no longer keep a job or even take a bath. So why didn’t natural selection, over thousands of years, cause the genetic propensity for this extreme disability to die out?
The genetically inherited disease sickle cell anemia persists because it provides protection against malaria. Could there be an analogous relationship between schizophrenia and imagination?
If imagination is put on a continuum from high to low, people afflicted with schizophrenia are on the high end. Their imaginations fire up to the point of hallucination. Creative persons who are less crazy also imagine what is not there, but they create art or social revolution or a dinner party. (People with schizophrenia can also be quite creative before the disease takes its toll. Susanne loved to draw, paint, and make batiks.)
Imagination, suggests Princeton molecular biologist Lee M. Silver, is related to the brain’s “noise” (random firings of neurons, or nerve cells), thus generating more associations. Brain scans of people with schizophrenia and their unafflicted family members show mega-amounts of random noise. Brain scans of control subjects (no schizophrenia in the family) do not.
How to say with sufficient compassion what must be said?:
It is terrible to lose a family member to schizophrenia and suicide. But Darwin’s followers’ claims are a glaring neon sign, attracting attention to itself, not genuine insight.
“Natural selection” is a spook; it could not cause Priscilla’s sister’s affliction to die out. There is no lab-designed series of tests life throws at any life form to cause “the fittest” to survive.
It would have been better for Priscilla Long never to have learned that “natural selection” operated as some kind of powerful force to guarantee better survival skills.
The fact that such a belief is taxpayer-funded by law does not make it less of an illusion.
Sadly for listening to Lee Silver’s theories on the subject, most highly creative people do not suffer from schizophrenia. I have lived most of my life in groups of creative people where the affliction was largely unknown. Schizophrenics who are highly creative will stand out, of course; other won’t. Some people are found dead somewhere and no one is on hand to give a clear account of why.
If there are “answers,” we can surely find them but we ought to begin by diminishing the mere noise.
First, life is an experience to be lived, not a problem to be solved. Along those lines, Long offers an insight of far more value than is commonly accorded:
Now, though, following our national deinstitutionalization policy, carried out without the community support that was supposed to go with it, our mental health care system has disintegrated. According to the devastating picture drawn by Torrey in American Psychosis, at least 20 percent of prison inmates and about a third of homeless people are severely mentally ill. Our system of non-care is, by the way, ultra-expensive.
Coulda called that one. Any time we default to a theory instead of wise and compassionate human action in real time, life becomes ultra expensive and complex. – O’Leary for News
See also: What to do with our education in human evolution? Stuff it!
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