Saturday, August 04, 2007

Here I come to save the day!

Schizophrenia is the most awesome of all severe mental diseases. That is to say it is awe-inspiring and powerful and mis- understood. There is no other comparable disease.

They say that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of crazy people, the schizophrenic is a god.

This is why scientists at Johns Hopkins have decided that other species can benefit from this most holy of brain-crippling diseases. In the past, one might reasonably imagine that schizophrenic people might have been elevated in society. It might have been a desirable characteristic in a shaman or chief or medicine man. The schizophrenic sees things that others don't. He hears things that others don't. He pushes aside the Veil of Maya and makes connections that we only see in our dreams.

I myself have witnessed a schizophrenic acquaintance of mine treated as a shaman type by a hippie chick. She followed him around for hours and hung on his every uttered word. Look at Twelve Monkeys. Pitt's character was a lucid schizo who gathered a following.

"But," you say--O ever astute reader--"Doctor! Schizos are just crazy people! They paranoid, delusional, and insane! They imagine things!" And I say to you, my friends, the schizo is often paranoid and delusional and they are most certainly insane, but no one is so...immaculately insane. Get my drift? It's such a perfect disease. The schizo doesn't necessarily see himself as insane. He has lost his ability to separate the incoming stimuli from the outside world and the world that exists solely in his head. The one becomes transposed over the other creating a mesh, a sort of synthetic world in which miraculous things can happen.

Of course, there's sort of an inverse relationship between a schizo's lucidity and insanity. The more lucid, the less crazy (the less inspirational, but perhaps more charismatic). The less lucid, the more insightful, the less charismatic. A balance must be struck.

I don't know if you've ever heard of Louis Wain. A fascinating figure. An artist who drew nothing but cats. He was famed for his anthropomorphic cat drawings, and also for having "suffered" from late-onset schizophrenia. Here is an interesting progression.

This sort of shows his descent into madness. Bear in mind, this guy only painted pictures of cats. He goes from only vaguely intriguing and perhaps whimsical image of a feline, to.....

oh, kinda weird....

that's pretty.....


Holy fucking psycho-crazy shit, Batman!

It's really quite remarkable. I mean, Wain is the only artist I can think of that actually manages to capture even the slightest hint of what it's like to experience LSD intoxication. This page has higher-res versions of the images, along with biographical info that you might find interesting.

Anyway, what this all goes to show, is that we don't really know anything about schizophrenia or its effects on people. It is clear that some of what the mind sees when inflicted with this disease is akin to what many a hippie experiences when consuming psychedelic drugs. We all know that the shamans of yesteryear (and maybe some still today?) used them for ritualistic purposes. Tribes in Mesoamerica believed that psilocybin mushrooms allowed one to contact the divine.

Perhaps it is more utilitarian...more...useful, to temporarily induce the kind of insanity that schizophrenia is famed for, but that doesn't mean that these scientists aren't trying to create some sort of mouse god-speaker that will lead its people on towards a greater and brighter future for all of mousekind. Maybe, the tree of knowledge is just a mental illness away!

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