Re: virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and

Mark Hornberger (
Sat, 05 Apr 1997 14:32:51 -0600

At 11:19 AM 4/5/97 -0800, you wrote:
>On Fri, 4 Apr 1997, Mark Hornberger wrote:
>> >That's a good question. Why do we pity schizophrenics? I don't pity
>> >there condition as much as the way we, as a society, treat them because of
>> >that condition. I pity the fact that we have forced them into "their own
>> >little world" by not creating a niche in ours for them in which they can
>> thrive.
>> I think schizophrenia is largely a medical problem, one of chemical
>> imbalance or whatnot, rather than just a coping response to a hostile
>> world. Even for those whose withdrawal is just a response to a world they
>> don't feel comfortable in, I would say that having a 'thin skin' is also
>> something of a personality problem. There are a great number of
>> basketcases walking around out there, and I don't think we can blame all,
>> or even most, of them on society.
>Then why don't we find schizophrenics in "traditional" societies? The
>definitions for a schizophrenic are very loose (by medical standards) and
>largely based on the way the person interacts with society. I could
>define an illness based on peoples inability to walk up stairs,
>Stairophrenia. I would find a reasonable group of people that fell into
>that category, the disabled. I would discover through research that they
>all shared certain physiological traits (inability to support their own
>weight, lack of lower-body motor skills, etc.). An could declare:

Many non-traditional (whatever that means) societies lack schizoprenics and
others with mental illness simply because they euthanize them, not because
they're more enlightened and user-friendly. Also, we do classify a broader
spectrum of behavior as 'mentally ill,' which perhaps we shouldn't. I
agree with much of what Dr Thomas Szasz says on that particular issue,
though I realize he's something of a dark horse. For example, we classify
both illicit drug users and anyone who is suicidal as 'mentally ill' people
who need our help, and to hell with what *they* want; and that's a
philosophical problem that seriously needs to be looked at, IMHO.

But notice that I didn't attribute schizophrenia to a personal problem, but
a chemical imbalance. It is the over-sensitive people, the thin-skinned
basketcases that I think have the problem that lies with their own
personalities. We see these people all the time, and while they don't
qualify as mentally ill (depending on my mood, LOL) neither do I think they
adjust to reality all that well. I wasn't referring here to the drooling
catatonic who can't even feed themselves. Serious schizophrnia and
similarly debilitating mental illnesses have for the most part been traced
to chemical imbalances. Perhaps in time the same will apply to the more
innocuous cases I'm referring to, but that's somewhat more subtle, isn't it?

I guess that's where the Prozac question comes into play - you have a large
number of people who weren't really ill to begin with, who just needed a
little, I don't know, adjustment. Strange how we prosecute and persecute
those who use marijuana or whatever for much the same reason, but people
take Prozac or Xanax in droves and it's okay. But I'm drifting to another