Friday, November 14, 2008

Study could change the way science thinks about mental illness

Bernard Crespi, an evolutionary biologist at SFU, has developed a theory - with the help of Christopher Badcock, a sociologist at the London School of Economics - that suggests a "genetic tug of war" could be behind mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia

.... At the other end of the spectrum, people with schizophrenia are often hyper-developed in sociality, Crespi said.

Their sense of self can be hyper-developed into megalomania, language is hyper-developed into hearing voices, and rather than feeling isolated, people with schizophrenia often feel as if they're being watched or plotted against.

Crespi says the theory could have significant implications for various therapies for mental disorders. He suggests it makes sense to encourage behaviours that are found at the opposite end of the spectrum. So, in people with autism, it would make sense to nurture and strengthen their social behaviours. And the opposite might be true for people with schizophrenia.
"If you have somebody who's schizophrenic . . . by these ideas, what they've got is kind of an overdevelopment of their social brain, if you will. And you basically want to encourage them to be less mentalistic, less over-interpreting with regard to sociality," he said.

"You essentially want them to become relatively more autistic in the way they think about the world."

Vancouver Sun, 14 Novmber 2008

Full article here

A Book of Silence, By Sara Maitland

"... Her marriage "disintegrated" in the late 1980s. She "ran out of steam" as a writer. She went through "a phase of extremely vivid and florid 'voice hearing', or auditory hallucinations". She converted to Roman Catholicism. She moved out of the vicarage in the East End, bought a cottage in a tiny village in Northamptonshire, tested solitary life on Skye, moved to a house on a high moor near Durham, and finally to a remote moorland dwelling in Galloway, the landscape of her childhood.

For her, silence and solitude are "inextricably intertwined... I am a deeply socialised person; when I am with other people I find it nearly impossible not to be aware of them, and that awareness breaks up the silence." The greater the quiet, the more God can fill it. God is synonymous with silence. "

Review of "A Book of Silence", By Sara Maitland, Independent, 14 November 2008

Full article here