Thoughts on A Beautiful Mind

grok grok at
Fri Apr 5 21:50:17 MST 2002

On Fri, 2002-04-05 at 15:42, Carrol Cox wrote:

> Sam Pawlett wrote:
> >
> > Gary MacLennan wrote:
> >  But ,in the end, if you believe in mystical
> > experience, what is the difference between that and psychosis? I bet many of the
> > old shamans and religious figures of non-Western culture would today be
> > diagnosed as "psychotic".
> >
> Sam, Gary _knows_ those who suffer from schizophrenia -- and "psychotic"
> is a SYMTOM, not the name of an illness one may be diagnosed with.
> Psychotic symptoms may also be suffered by those suffering from either
> bipolar or unipolar disorder or several other mental illnesses. AND THEY
> ARE NOT FUN. Do you know what those voices are most apt to say? They
> will continually tell the person how worthless he/she is. That is why
> there are such high suicide rates among sufferers form schizophrenia.

Not that I would know (who does?)... but it's always been my opinion
that 'organic' illnesses such as schizophrenia could as well have been
'mediated' completely differently in pre-imperial societies (and even
later); and that the 'seer'/shaman could have lived on a completely
supportive environment -- which IMO would have affected the expression
of the psychosis (and why not?) This would be a situation completely
opposite to the stigmatization of all 'weirdness' in our own lockstep
society -- tho I can see the possibility that some individuals might
become just too scary to fulfill even the shaman role. It's all a guess

Unless there is proof contradicting this possibility, why shouldn't a
shaman's 'voices' be channelled into a direction which the village finds
'useful', even if the experience was still possibly essentially
'negative' -- i.e. become a dealing with the evil spirits which
incessantly torment the whole people?

> Some years ago a  young man suffering from schizophrenia showed up at
> our Depressive and Manic Depressive Support Group meeting. He needed a
> place to spend the night, as his father had just kicked him out for
> losing his job. And the Emergency Room would only take in the moneyless
> if they were threatening to commit suicide or harm someone. A mystic
> experience? No. Sheer misery. Not the ER's fault. They didn't have the
> facilities. As I told Marta about a year ago, the main thing most of my
> schizophrenic acquaintances needed was a decent income. One such
> acquaintance hasn't called me since I 'loaned' him $84 to pay for a
> prescription: he hadn't turned in a form or something and that led to
> various problems, resolvable only by having the cash to pay.
> Mental Illness is almost _always_ felt as a PAIN that will not be
> ignored. There is something almost obscene in presentations of the
> mentally ill as having a "mystic experience" or being happily loopy or
> other stereotypes.
> Carrolo

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