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

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