August 27, 2005

"Schizophrenia is the price that homo sapiens pay for language."

Here's the theory:
People with these [pychoses] may hear their inner thoughts as external voices, or believe thoughts have been inserted in their head, suggesting the normal divisions do not exist.

The reason for this, he says, is that their brains do not have the bias, or asymmetry, seen in healthy people.

Brain asymmetry means that areas control certain things, so the left-hand side controls language.

He said: "Asymmetry appears to be less pronounced in people with psychoses."...

Professor Crow suggests there is an "asymmetry gene" on the sex chromosomes, that gives human brains the capacity for language.

He suggests that variation in an "asymmetry gene" in one of these areas could be the factor which determines if someone is going to develop schizophrenia.

It's this brain asymmetry that allowed human beings to develop language, supposedly, and some weakness in the asymmetry that is at the root of schizophrenia. So says Crow anyway.

Why does he locate this "asymmetry gene" on the sex chromosomes? Hmmm.... look out, Professor Crow! Don't forget to say that whatever tendency you find in women is better! Don't be saying we're closer to crazy.

11 comments:

miklos rosza said...

The schizophrenics I've known (or met) have proven themselves very difficult people to be around.

However, free-associating, "Schizophrenia" by Sonic Youth is a good song on one of their two good albums. I've recently rediscovered Sonic Youth, something which I'm well aware is a minority taste.

Elizabeth said...

Read Octavia Butler's short story "Speech Sounds" for a take on this. It's set in Los Angeles after something--a virus, or a biological weapons attack, perhaps--has tampered with our speech centers. It's interesting how she takes on the issue of gender, and left-handedness. She doesn't have a didactic message; she just the idea for the story while riding the bus once, when a fight broke out between two men who jostled one another moving through the aisle.

Steel Turman said...

The good Professor need not now. You said it for him Ann.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...
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Yevgeny Vilensky said...

By the way, did anyone else notice that the picture and caption that comes with the linked article make no sense. The caption says, "Early humans developed a taste for seafood" and there is a picture of what look like Africans in the desert. Please please please explain this to me! What does sea food have to do with schizophrenia? What do Africans have to do with early humans? And what sea food is there in the desert? Please explain.

irish guard said...

My brother was a schizophrenic and as Miklos said, he was very difficult to be around. We sought answers as to why he developed the illness and never learned anything meaningful.

He was very bright (magna cum laude at Notre Dame, MD degree blah...blah..blah), but also could be very scary at times. Approximately 25% of schizophrenics refuse to take their meds, claim they don't need it or it makes them logi. Well, he probably worked at 60 - 70 different jobs during his life (died three years ago at age 57) and just couldn't make much sense of his life. As a young boy and teen, he was my idol and then it hit him, making him into the difficult person he became for the rest of his life. Such a shame. I fear for my own sons, that there is no hereditary link, but science has not ruled it out. Nor have they ruled it in. Even though he was sick for most of his life and tough to talk to, I miss him.

The article seemed a bit thin on details and wasn't exactly hailed by medical or psychiatric science as some earth shattering new discovery.

SippicanCottage said...
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Matt Brown said...

Sippicancottage: That poem is built on a misunderstanding of schizophrenia and its confusion with dissociative identiy (formerly known as multiple personality) disorder.
The main symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, or disorganized behavior. Both delusions and hallucinations are referred to as psychotic symptoms. A person with dissociative identity disorder has two or more distinct identities, each with its own sensing abilties and ways of relating to the self and the environment. Though they may be bizarre, the personalities aren't usually psychotic.

SippicanCottage said...
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Matt Brown said...
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Matt Brown said...

Sippican: The priest and rabbi walked into the bar, but the minister certainly did not - he's a tee-totaller.

I typed this really slow. Does that help?

That poem only aids in increasing misinformation about mental illness in general and schizophrenia in particular.