Evolution, religion, schizophrenia and the schizotypal personality

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73 Responses to “Evolution, religion, schizophrenia and the schizotypal personality”

  1. Anonymous says:

    he said penis.

  2. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    ..Sapolsky leaves out that the heart of all religions are to lead a moral life together and to do onto others how I want to be done to me and I believe to create a better future together.

    All? No.

    In many cases, all the rules he is talking about come about long after that initial, moral and creative spark is lit by the founding revolutionary leader(s).

    [citation needed]

    Or: doubtful.

    I doubt any religion (except Scientology, which isn’t) has a specific starting point, least of all with a single individual. They all grow out of the ones that come before, and they all grew out of superstition and the need to explain the world.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I highly doubt the first religions were super moral, or even contained any particular amount of compassion for fellow humans. I’d guess it was about worshipping the sun (or keeping it in the sky, at least) and food, and all the rules came as a result of pleasing, or keeping, the sun.

    Either way, it’s moot. We can never know the details, beyond what we have learnt from the later (classical) religions.. and lots of those just don’t fit your description.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Irony: People who believe that homosexuality is a choice and not biological may themselves believe that not out of choice but out of biological disorder.

  4. Anonymous says:

    More Irony: #33 Schizophrenics rarely have children. I should know because I am the child of one.

    Men with mustaches rarely have children. I should know because I am the child of one.

  5. Daemon says:

    Somebody needs to turn his lectures into audio podcasts.

  6. Anonymous says:

    sapolsky is my hero

  7. Anonymous says:

    “…schizophrenia usually sets in around 18 years old.”

    If genetic, then no way to select against. Our ancestors bred much earlier than that. I wonder if data would point to a decline in schizophrenia in modern late-breeding cultures…

    #19: “Nor is schizophrenia completely genetic–it does not occur equally in identical twins, for example.”

    A ready source?— or should I begin a search? (Oh, for a touch of OCD.)

    I was trained as a cultural determinist and am reflexively suspicious of psychologists poking around historical anthropology; but all of the ologies are welcome to the shindigs, especially the neurobiologist Sapolsky—he’s great.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anyone watch

    Altered States (1980)

    ?

  9. Anonymous says:

    #56 LOL — I think 3rd graders may be swayed by this. BTW. I agree with most of the commentary (which is pattern fitting). I am open minded to ideas on understanding nature, and Sapolsky does an amazing job articulating his ideas.

    I may not be giving these ideas as much credit as they deserve. However, given our recent enlightenment and the our still overall narrow understanding I don’t see why these ideas can’t be continually debated. Unlike “global warming” where it is debate over. If you consider all cause-effect coming “ex nihilo” we would really be miraculous in being. My apologies if my comments offend the Professor or Stanford (Thank you providing this lecture).

  10. Anonymous says:

    So basically hes saying that threw schizophrenia or like symptoms a few with a particular characteristic found or find it beneficial to have in human culture and their genes were passed on.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Have you read decline of the west by Oswald Spengler? In this book he speaks of three world views (welantschuuangs)the Magian the Apollonian and the Faustian. The first of these(Magian)is the most primitive,it is a kind of collective schizophrenia and this is what Judaism and Xtianity are born out of especially the “fundie” varieties. This is what the powerful and wealthy want us to become, fearful violent believing schizophrenic little children. Have any of you heard of the “Piso theory” of christianity? Have any of you ever heard of the “Schizophregenic mother” theory of schizophrenia? Mention this to anybody and you will be more despised than a holocaust denier. If youve read Fritz Springmeier’s books you will notice that what he terms the “mother of darkness” dovetails quite prettily indeed with the schizophregenic mother. . .St Aries signing out.

  12. TEKNA2007 says:

    s/Joel Sap/Robert Sap/ ?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Or is it schizotpal characteristics are a common in humans and these characteristics shape culture?

  14. Anonymous says:

    the origin of consciousness and the breakdown of the bicameral mind?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Given that one of the hallmark features of schizotypal disorder is “lack of social contact outside of first-degree relatives” this sounds either unlikely or incestuous.

    • Anonymous says:

      Considering that the prevailing views towards schizophrenia in the modern era are less accepting than in the past (the general public tends to shun schizophrenics and view them as mentally unbalanced, rather than believing that they have divine or magical insight), sufferers insular habits are much more likely to be a modern symptom. Therefore the current symptomology of the disorder is not really germane to the discussion.

  16. Exploto says:

    For anyone who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia (like me), or has been through the mental health system at all for that matter, http://www.mindfreedom.org – MindFreedom International: Win Mental Health Human Rights

  17. Heteromeles says:

    One thing that’s apparently missing from Sapolsky’s discussion is that shamans can be useful to a society. After all, the primary functions of shamans were as healers and problem solvers. This is a great role for an outsider, especially one who understands himself well enough to overcome his own shortcomings and function in society. Supposedly, in some groups, the most valued shamans were those who had overcome the greatest health problems to become high functioning members of society.

    Even in our modern society, there are a lot of people in the health industry who got their start in this way.

    Still I think that this only explains how such outsiders remain part of society. After all, outsiders are always a minority. How about the majority, many of whom are very religious?

    As for religious behavior, that’s may be a different thing. I’m not strongly religious, and I don’t have kids. However, I’ve noticed that other people who are more strongly Christian (Catholic or not) often have large families, and I assume that’s true for other large religions. Given the believers’ differential reproductive success over people like me, I don’t think one needs to invoke any special genetics to explain the success of religion. All that’s needed is for scientists to realize that “be fruitful and multiply” is good evolutionary advice if you’re willing to believe in and practice it.

  18. Bob Rossney says:

    Joel Spolsky. Robert Sapolsky. Also, he’s a neurobiologist, not an anthropologist. But you’ve got the part about him being amazingly interesting right.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, Dr. Sapolsky’s BA degree is in biological anthropology (of course, his later, more advanced degrees are not in the same subject but he uses this often as a foundation for his inquiries), and he wears many hats: anthropologist, sociobiologist, neurobiologist, and lastly, primatologist. :) *Awesome lecture!*

  19. wolfiesma says:

    A very close friend in college began to hear auditory hallucinations and lose the ability to know what was real and what wasn’t. Interestingly, she researched shamanism in great detail as part of her efforts to rebuild her mental health and integrate her experiences. Not an easy task.

    The metaphor for shamanism that stuck with me, from my own limited perusal of the literature was that of the fisherman who could dip into the underwater (subconscious/universal mind) and come back above water. They could sort of go between two worlds.

    Loved the lecture. How cool is it that we can sit here and watch a professor at Stanford give a talk from the comfort of our geographically disparate regions. Yay technology.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Assuming that Sapolsky is on to something, the one huge question left unanswered is why Shaman’s gain a position of importance in any society. Why is society organized around their activities? Why do people listen to what they have to say? Perhaps it is that the Shaman gives a fuller, more compelling and more colorful expression to an only slightly more latent tendency toward magical or meta-magical thinking that most of us share.

    So yeah, we can see the Shaman’s place in society, but why does magical thinking have such a purchase in human modes of thinking in the first place?

    That seems to me to be the riches vein of all. Why are we not evolved to be far more rational than we are? What advantages, if any, are there in magical modes of thinking?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the video! Enjoyed it a lot. However, Sapolsky’s link from shamanism to western christianism vía schizotypals is a little bit far fetched … mainly because shamanism operates very differently from the organized religions of bigger sedimentary civilizations than the smaller scale human organizations where shamans have operated (typically successfully through centuries). He’s missing a lot here, don’t know what a Foucault would say about it.

    Also, assuming that a committee better designs myths is haphazard at best…we’ve also had schizotypals and schizophrenics all around…think John Nash, Princeton! And pretty influential a nut he was…so it’s been ok but there are some gaps on Sapolsky’s narrative that unsettles me.

  22. FoetusNail says:

    Very interesting, will we hear the next lecture?

    Additionally, what are the links between not just religiosity, but spirituality and mental disability or personality disorders?

    I attend a UU congregation, but do not consider myself religious, though I do experience spiritual moments. How do these evolutionary traits apply to relatively spiritual people, who do not believe in the supernatural or hold common superstitious beliefs?

    I tend to separate religion and, for lack of a better word, spiritual, while many are religious and/or superstitious, in my opinion, few are spiritual.

  23. Exploto says:

    I’m a junior and a genetics major at UW Madison who was diagnosed with schizophrenia several years ago. I just wanted to say that the best two things I can think of that you can do for someone diagnosed with schizophrenia is to not give up on them, and to give them power over their own lives.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The Rice Krispy Treat thing provides an explanation on why my mother used to continue to trim my bangs until they were too short and quite ridiculous looking.

  25. Anonymous says:

    What was that about a code?

  26. Pickled Whispers says:

    Thanks for posting this – I enjoyed it a great deal.

    Coming from a background in paleolithic archaeology, I’m particularly suspicious of biological explanations for human behaviour; Rigidly deterministic models tend to be too simplistic and their predictions are almost impossible to test for genetically, let alone using historical or archaeological data.

    It’s fascinating to look at some of the issues I deal with from the perspective of a neurobiologist. Food for thought indeed.

    Incidentally, I’m glad he mentioned Xenocide; It was on my mind as I was watching. That book did a pretty good job of exploring the potential relationship between OCD and ritual behaviour (religious or otherwise).

    Also, I love the superstitious pigeon experiment – made me chuckle.

  27. Anonymous says:

    One irony of this lecture: He speaks about the study showing that family members of schizophrenics make “looser associations” than average people. This whole lecture is a loose association. He takes many unrelated ideas and tries to weave them together.

  28. Ghede says:

    I am absolutely speechless. This is definitely food for though. I’m going to need to re-watch this and process this for days before I get through all the implications. I wonder if it would be any easier if I were actually enrolled in the course? Would I be eased into this topic, or would the lectures pile on, one after the other, until the queue is full and I go vegetative for a few years?

  29. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    How cool is it that we can sit here and watch a professor at Stanford give a talk from the comfort of our geographically disparate regions. Yay technology.

    Exactly! I made great use of MIT’s online lecture series when studying for my computer science class. Yay technology! :)

  30. Matt says:

    Good talk. You have to be very careful though when you assume that 50% belief in something like UFO’s is evidence of widespread irrationality. If someone sees strange things moving in strange ways in the skies (which many have in person, and many more in video) and the official explanations, if they exist at all, are highly implausible, then the *rational* response to that is to be at least UFO agnostic, if not a believer. Taken even further, given an official governmental (especially military) explanation for some controversial event, the rational person would be highly skeptical, the irrational would trust (or have faith) that it’s true.

  31. Takuan says:

    trust your instinct for kindness over your cerebral need for pattern.

  32. Raian says:

    I think one of the fallacies of this argument is that not all genetic traits have a hidden benefit, or have a purpose for being… and also the cause for schizophrenia is not fully known.

    For the sake of this argument– let’s say that schizophrenia is genetic… schizophrenia usually sets in around 18 years old– which leaves lots of time for the genes to be passed on to someone else. Another possibility is that schizophrenia is carried by people, but doesn’t appear unless combined with another carrier’s dna.

    Also to say that the shamans of the past were a bunch of schizophrenics is fairly ridiculous, but totally impossible to prove or disprove.

    One thing he totally misses is that schizophrenics do not follow social norms/mores– and that would push them to the periphery, especially in a traditional society. How, for example, would hunters and gatherers deal with catatonic schizophrenia… They would probably have to abandon the person in order to survive.

    Most likely, schizophrenia is caused by toxoplasmosis.

    He also fails to take into account that people lie sometimes… that doesn’t mean they are schizotypal.

  33. johnphantom says:

    As someone who is diagnosed as bi-polar with schizo-affective disorder, Joel is absolutely correct that it is genetic.

    A couple of my cousins on my mother’s side (out of 26) have schizophrenia, along with at least one of my uncles. My grandfather definitely displays the mild form of schizophrenia, believing he speaks to God and displays isolationism along the lines of “movie projector operator.” He taught himself engineering and ran equipment at a major power plant in MA during the night, until he retired. He is a very fervent Christian.

    I do have some mild OCD tendencies – it is mostly displayed in things like programming and writing. I do see writing as similar to programming computers. I see writing as an attempt to program peoples minds.

    I had my first major break in May of 2001. I had the full range of schizophrenic halucinations, but because I now religiously take my medications, I usually only suffer from auditory hallucinations. The doctors, at the county, told my mother that I was the “worst case we have ever seen” and that I would probably not make it back.

    I do not believe in any religion. I do believe in God, since my first break in 2001. I was an atheist, and very unhappy with life. Now, with one medication (Zyprexa) I am at the happiest, yet most lonely, time of my life.

    As far as OCD and programming, I once programmed 4200+ lines of code in C++ that was a device driver for a Truevision Targa+ 64, mainly working in binary (some hex and deci) in one twenty hour sitting, many years before I became schizo.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Some people commenting here are trying to say that there is no relationship at all between western religion and shamans because they are different religions etc.

    These people are failing to realize that the relationship is the way these people THINK and ACT. Not what the subject matter is necessarily.

    Simply put. If you believe in little green men, God, hear voices, believe in things that are abnormal. You are schizotypal. Harsh.. But true.

  35. pinteresque says:

    It’s worth noting that Sapolsky is a frequent contributor to WNYC’s RadioLab, one of the most entertaining and innovatively produced shows on the radio these days.

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/

  36. ICEverfrost says:

    #27 makes a very good point. Why have we not evolved into more rational creatures? What advantages to we gain in being facinated by and accepting what is not rational?

  37. Anonymous says:

    RAIAN, he says Shamans were likely of the schizotipal personality (partial expression) not that they were shizophrenic (full expression)

  38. failix says:

    @Jhonphantom:

    “I do believe in God, since my first break in 2001. I was an atheist, and very unhappy with life. Now, with one medication (Zyprexa) I am at the happiest, yet most lonely, time of my life.”

    Thanks for the insight. Just out of interest, do you think your belief in God is motivated by the fact that you feel happier by believing, or do you think your theism is only a side-effect of your Schizophrenia, and that your happiness is entirely due to your medication (or both)?

    @Heteromeles:

    “One thing that’s apparently missing from Sapolsky’s discussion is that shamans can be useful to a society.”

    No, not anymore.

    “How about the majority, many of whom are very religious?”

    Watch the entire video, he talks about all this.

    Given the believers’ differential reproductive success over people like me, I don’t think one needs to invoke any special genetics to explain the success of religion

    He’s not talking specifically about religions, but about metamagical thinking, which is a neurological pattern observed within certain individuals, regardless of traditions, beliefs or culture. What then flows out of it are religions, spirituality, which evolve differently in different cultures. It’s irrelevant to the point whether believers have a higher birth rate or not since the question isn’t why religions spread, but why they exist in the first place, and why some people are more likely to believe or not.

  39. Axx says:

    @ #28

    um…did you watch the vid?

  40. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Also to say that the shamans of the past were a bunch of schizophrenics is fairly ridiculous, but totally impossible to prove or disprove.

    He didn’t say that, at all. He posed the similarity between the rituals and schizotypal behaviour, and wondered if the rituals themselves were based on, or influenced by, orginal schizotypal behaviours.

    One thing he totally misses is that schizophrenics do not follow social norms/mores– and that would push them to the periphery, especially in a traditional society.

    That was central to his description of both schizotypal and people with ocd. He discussed people becoming reclusive and people forced, by their condition, to miss important events. Seems to be exactly what you are now saying.

    Did we watch the same lecture?

  41. thegiantsnail says:

    Not an argument against, but perhaps there could certainly be a bad gene without bad gene environments.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Sapolsky is most intelligent person alive, he is just amazing, I could listen to him for 12 hours straight no breaks :) is the creepy? Where can i find more lectures/dvds with him?

  43. Anonymous says:

    An Evolutionary Biologist speaking of God as rooted in the anthropomorphic evolutionary process? From Stanford?? WOW!

  44. Anonymous says:

    I think people with temporal lobe epilepsy have played bigger role in the history of religion than Schizotypal people. A lot of prophets in bible and Koran had symptoms of epilepsy.

    People suffering from temporal lope epilepsy often suffer from hyperkinesia (they write a lot), hallucinations (burning bush) and sometimes feel the presence of God during a seizure (seizures can affect the god part of brain).

  45. bazzargh says:

    Um, wasn’t the connection between Tay-Sachs and tuberculosis rejected as a hypothesis, 25 years ago?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7246543
    (I know, this is incidental to the main thrust of his argument)

    It was an interesting talk, but I went in expecting evidence to be presented rather than anecdote. Not a criticism – it seems that the intent of this course is to introduce students to the idea that there may biological explanations for social issues, so he emphasised drawing connections rather than testing these theories.

  46. Anonymous says:

    @ 27

    For the same reason scientists are given a position of importance in our current society.

    @ 23

    It’s great that you’re thinking about this and sharing your opinion. However, if you watched the full lecture, or have done any reading about Shamans, then you know that anthropologists first noted that Shamas were healed healers. In other words, it’s well documented that Shamans were traditionally individuals with mental health issues that they have been able to “conquer.”

    So, despite the fact that you “disagree” that people with mental health issues could become revered Shamans, history tells us otherwise.

  47. Anonymous says:

    He is an anthropologist who never heard of the Winnebago Indians?
    He has some interesting, though not original, points. But you can’t broad brush whole groups–even “religious” or “schizophrenic.” Or even people who see UFOs–trained airline pilots, jet fighter pilots, astronauts? Please.
    Also, genes don’t just turn off and on. Nor is schizophrenia completely genetic–it does not occur equally in identical twins, for example.
    So the environment plays an enormous role–therefore, it’s no wonder that there may be a genuine schizophrenic in a family plus “milder” versions, depending on the personality and how each reacted to the environment.
    I know it’s a college lecture, but it seems rather simplistic and uncritical.

  48. Anonymous says:

    #33, Your thought re: the rarity of schizophrenics having children makes zero sense.
    I am the second child of a schizophrenic. I personally know 5 people who are the children of schizophrenics. I am sure I know more who have just not disclosed this information. I’m thinking it’s not so rare for schizophrenics to have children?

  49. Anonymous says:

    thank you for posting this. this talk was powerful and meaningful to me. Thanks!

  50. FoetusNail says:

    Ark, “Did we watch the same lecture?”

    Yes, but did everyone hear the same thing?

    This is where the “half-crazy” thing comes into the picture.

  51. Sister Chromatid says:

    Religions seem to be quite good at encouraging it’s members to “go forth and multiply”– making new vectors to indoctrinate with religious memes from birth. I think one only need to look at harem societies and polygamous clans to see how this type of mental “aberration” enhances the “reproductive fitness” of those carrying the genes coding for it.

    Some genes survive because they are good at creating organisms that care for others that contain said genes, reproduce those genes, and kill off competitors who lack such genes. The same goes for memes.

    I think Sapolsky covered this pretty well. Something that’s maladaptive in large concentration can be just what a population needs to thrive in smaller concentrations and/or specific environments.

    I understand why religions, myths, legends, and other superstitious thinking evolves. I also understand why there is unlikely to be any real truths there.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting! What thought-provoking fun on a lazy Saturday morning. I’ll spend the rest of the weekend ruminating over this.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I do enjoy Sapolsky’s writings and ideas. But it should be noted that he is a neurobiologist, not an anthropologist. (Cory could you please correct?) Also, psychology and schizophrenia are outside his area of expertise. I do not have time to watch the lecture at the moment, but based on the comments here, he seems to be falling into many of the mistaken ideas about schizophrenia that many people do. Our society has a tendency to romanticize this illness, because we understand it so little. Because schizophrenic delusions are often supernatural or religion-based, we assume that they have something to d with supernatural or religious ideation in general. Because the illness is so common and so baffling, we assume there must be a reason it is here. And because the psychosis symptoms are so dramatic, we assume that hallucinations and psychosis are the only symptoms of the disorder. Schizotypal personality disorder is not really like a “mild” case of schizophrenia. STPD is schizophrenia that is complicated by mood symptoms. It is no less disabling than schizophrenia.

    The truth is that the delusions of a schizophrenic bear almost no resemblance to religious beliefs of a normal person. If you talk to someone with these delusions, you will find that they are extremely arbitrary and illogical. Sapolsky is an atheist, and many atheists assume that all religious beliefs are illogical. It’s too bad that this prejudice has not permitted him to look closer. Second, the most disabling symptoms of schizophrenia are not the psychosis, but the negative symptoms–the lethargy, apathy, antisocial behavior, lack of affect, lack of empathy, inability to have real relationships. Even the mildest case of schizophrenia is going to absolutely destroy this individual’s opportunity for mating, never, ever enhance it. Schizophrenics rarely have children. I should know because I am the child of one.

    Lastly, a negative trait needs no evolutionary benefit to justify its existence. Population genetics predicts the persistence of many traits that are unamibiguously disadvantageous.

    It would be very surprising if even 1/1000 individuals with schizophrenia were able to survive and function unmedicated in a premodern society. It’s possible that some of them fulfilled a role of shaman. Much more likely most of them were killed or died alone because of their fear of being around other humans.

  54. FoetusNail says:

    Belief has been bred into our genes. Many societies/religions have expelled or killed non-believers, heretics, and apostates. At the very least the non-believers have been careful to keep their lack of belief to themselves. For members of the three Semitic religions, freedom of religion ends at the front door.

  55. johnphantom says:

    @failix

    johnphantom: “I do believe in God, since my first break in 2001. I was an atheist, and very unhappy with life. Now, with one medication (Zyprexa) I am at the happiest, yet most lonely, time of my life.”

    failix: “Thanks for the insight. Just out of interest, do you think your belief in God is motivated by the fact that you feel happier by believing, or do you think your theism is only a side-effect of your Schizophrenia, and that your happiness is entirely due to your medication (or both)?”

    It is complicated to explain. I had very severe hallucinations that directed me to believe in a higher power and a higher destiny. I read the Bible for the first time. It changed me. Do not get me wrong, I now do not believe the Bible is God’s word. It was just a very bizarre experience.

    I now want to be honest and make a difference for humanity. My medication helps greatly as it keeps me from becoming depressed or manic, and suppresses hallucinations.

    I will say that my greatest work was at the height of my severe break. The episode did open my mind and allow me to concentrate in a way I have never been able to do before, or since. This experience did break my mind – it took years for me to recover, and I still am not capable of what I was.

  56. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Indeed.

    I wonder how many watched until the very end, where he make clear his intent.

  57. Anonymous says:

    What about reality, who says that schizotypals aren’t right?! Maybe not everything is explainable.

    Deal with it. Things are sometimes just not logically explainable thatdoesnt mean it’s non logical or irrational. It is just not yet discovered.

    Take the áura’ phenomenon.. maybe there is a smaller electricity and people who are sensitive snense that it makes them wanna wash their hand to get rid of the (dirt) electricity/aura/

  58. KimmyBZ says:

    Fascinating lecture, but Sapolsky leaves out that the heart of all religions are to lead a moral life together and to do onto others how I want to be done to me and I believe to create a better future together. In many cases, all the rules he is talking about come about long after that initial, moral and creative spark is lit by the founding revolutionary leader(s).

    Rules are actually the easy way out and has nothing to do with living an extraordinary and revolutionary life here and now.

  59. Takuan says:

    “the heart of all religions are to lead a moral life together and to do onto others how I want to be done to me ”

    Really? How about some Meso-American human sacrifice then?

  60. Raian says:

    “Also to say that the shamans of the past were a bunch of schizophrenics is fairly ridiculous, but totally impossible to prove or disprove.”

    He didn’t say that, at all. He posed the similarity between the rituals and schizotypal behaviour, and wondered if the rituals themselves were based on, or influenced by, orginal schizotypal behaviours.

    I understand his point, and he may very well be right. But you have to make a lot of assumptions… there are examples of shamans in many societies across the world, many of these societies did not have contact with the outside world or each other– so you’d have to assume there were many people with schizoid personalities that gravitated towards the profession of shamanism and set the standard for their specific tribe or community, and that they were accepted in that profession…

    “One thing he totally misses is that schizophrenics do not follow social norms/mores– and that would push them to the periphery, especially in a traditional society.”

    That was central to his description of both schizotypal and people with ocd. He discussed people becoming reclusive and people forced, by their condition, to miss important events. Seems to be exactly what you are now saying.

    If I have it correctly, the lecturer makes a point that a schizotypal person would be exalted, as having some connection to deeper knowledge… and perhaps that is true… but I believe it would be more likely the schizotypal person would be ostracized, or left for dead.

    I flat out think that the correlation he is trying to make is invalid– and what he is witnessing instead are “themes” or undercurrents present in the human psyche– which is amplified, or brought to the surface in a schizophrenia/schizotypal person.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on people! Watch the whole lecture before commenting. All the people only partially watching or not watching the lecture are doing everyone a disservice when they provide opinions and “insights.” Most of the comments posted critiquing his ideas can be explained by watching the lecture.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Awesome lecture by Dr. Sapolsky, thank you!

    I’ve known people in the situations he describes and it really rings true. I learned a lot.

  63. evilgalblues says:

    count me as a child of a schizo! Actually quite a line of them. My mom, both her mom and dad(according to the loony bin records “of psychotic proportions”), my mom’s grandmother, my mom’s father’s mother…

    I guess I should thank my lucky stars my mom married a “normal” so I don’t have it full blown.

  64. bshock says:

    Dammit, as a mild obsessive-compulsive, now I want to hear “next Wednesday’s” lecture also.

  65. FoetusNail says:

    Spirituality and religion in epilepsy.
    Devinsky O, Lai G.

    Department of Neurology, NYU School of Medicine, New York University, NYU Epilepsy Center, 403 E 34 St., New York, NY 10016 USA. od4@nyu.edu

    Abstract

    Revered in some cultures but persecuted by most others, epilepsy patients have, throughout history, been linked with the divine, demonic, and supernatural. Clinical observations during the past 150 years support an association between religious experiences during (ictal), after (postictal), and in between (interictal) seizures. In addition, epileptic seizures may increase, alter, or decrease religious experience especially in a small group of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Literature surveys have revealed that between .4% and 3.1% of partial epilepsy patients had ictal religious experiences; higher frequencies are found in systematic questionnaires versus spontaneous patient reports. Religious premonitory symptoms or auras were reported by 3.9% of epilepsy patients. Among patients with ictal religious experiences, there is a predominance of patients with right TLE. Postictal and interictal religious experiences occur most often in TLE patients with bilateral seizure foci. Postictal religious experiences occurred in 1.3% of all epilepsy patients and 2.2% of TLE patients. Many of the epilepsy-related religious conversion experiences occurred postictally. Interictal religiosity is more controversial with less consensus among studies. Patients with postictal psychosis may also experience interictal hyper-religiosity, supporting a “pathological” increase in interictal religiosity in some patients. Although psychologic and social factors such as stigma may contribute to religious experiences with epilepsy, a neurologic mechanism most likely plays a large role. The limbic system is also often suggested as the critical site of religious experience due to the association with temporal lobe epilepsy and the emotional nature of the experiences. Neocortical areas also may be involved, suggested by the presence of visual and auditory hallucinations, complex ideation during many religious experiences, and the large expanse of temporal neocortex. In contrast to the role of the temporal lobe in evoking religious experiences, alterations in frontal functions may contribute to increased religious interests as a personality trait. The two main forms of religious experience, the ongoing belief pattern and set of convictions (the religion of the everyday man) versus the ecstatic religious experience, may be predominantly localized to the frontal and temporal regions, respectively, of the right hemisphere.

  66. Anonymous says:

    It’s so easy a caveman can do it.

  67. millions says:

    If this video is half as interesting as his lectures on human and primate sexuality, I’m sure to be thinking about it for months.

  68. FoetusNail says:

    Which came first, panic or religion?

  69. Anonymous says:

    By Ken Bonnell: I had a “stepson” whose dignosis was “schizophrenic sffective disorder.” He was subject to delusions and mild hallucinations, and was under medications. To cope with him his mother and I found help with a mental health group, the name of which I cannot remember right now. Right now he is living with an aunt in Oregon. I have no information about his present condition.

  70. Anonymous says:

    I do think schizophrenia an other severe personality disorders have just to do with evolution of speech.You’ll ask why,then lemme tell the reason of it.Thanks to language(speech),there exist words.Thanks to words,there exist thoughts.Since thought disorder could exist only thanks to the existence of thought self,and madness is the thought disorder,we should blame evolution of speech(words==thoughts==language ..).For my part, madness is just a devolution of this evolution.If you agree or do not agree with me,plz write it.
    Regards

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