Monday, May 16, 2011

The Madness of Adam and Eve

I had never heard of The Madness of Adam and Eve, by David Horrobin, until today.

Horrobin was inducted into the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame in 2005. In its tribute to David Horrobin, writes: Throughout his travels in East Africa and work in Kenya, he developed the kernel of thought about fatty acids, schizophrenia and its role in evolution. He later elaborated this idea in his 2001 book, The Madness of Adam and Eve, which was short-listed in 2002 for the Aventis Science Book of the Year. Abram Hoffer wrote: "This is a remarkable book. I agree with his interpretation that schizophrenia is an evolutionary advantage and that its genes are slowly moving into the general population."

The book can be ordered on Amazon, but the price is a staggering $122 for a used copy! However, there are two good Amazon reviews that I have reprinted here.

Humanity and "Insanity", December 19, 2002

By Edith Swanek (Anaheim, Ca) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: The Madness of Adam and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity (Hardcover)

To begin with, I purchased my copy from, the British arm, well over a year ago. Even being shipped from England to the U.S., it's still probably the best way for an American to buy this great book...

You may have heard various movie characters at various times say something along the lines of "We all go a little bit insane sometimes".

Horrobin shows pretty convincingly that "we ARE all a little bit insane at ALL times". In essence, the biochemical manifestations of serious mental illness, when LESS chemically severe, manifest themselves as creativity, imagination, audacity, fixation, obsession, compulsion, etc. A given person might in fact be "3% manic-depressive/bipolar", "2% schizoid", "4% paranoic", etc., and not only function well on a daily basis, but actually function as a great thinker, artist, inventor, or world leader.

Take the "quirks" of major leaders in World War II - from Hitler with his sheer terror at his own flatulence, Stalin drawing 1000 red pencil pictures of wolf heads ever day, De Gaulle regarding himself as "the male Joan of Arc", Patton thinking he had lived dozens of times previously, and Roosevelt allowing both his own and his wife's mistresses to live on the same floor, to Churchill greating world leaders in the buff. All "a little bit insane"? Not so very different from the rest of us, each with his or her own eccentricities...and all very, very human.

This book is both intellectually and socially important to the exact extent it forces us to look at humanity and its mental condition as a full range, rather than categories and "cut-off points".

Most highly recommended!

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars For ever changes the way you look at the mentally ill, October 31, 2004

By maximusone "maximusone" (Brussels) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: The Madness of Adam and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity (Hardcover)

David Horrobin argues that, as long ago as 3 million years ago, early man - homo erectus - lived close to and off water - rivers and lakes - and his diet contained a fair amount of fish as well as bone marrow from captured animals (who in turn lived off the water). This fish - and animals living off fish or other aquatic organisms - in turn contained so called fatty acids which allowed our human brains over time to become much more creative. Modern human brains consist to a large extent of fat. Hence also, why humans are so much "fatter" then our closest relatives, the chimps. The essential fatty acids in our diets enabled our existing brain cells to better communicate with each other. But a side effect of this evolution was the emergence of schizophrenia.

At some point around 150,000 years ago, someone must have been borne with a genetic mutation which we now call schizophrenia, although his or her behaviour was more what we now would call schizoid, i.e. light schizophrenia. Horrobin argues that throughout human history schizophrenics were often very gifted people, who were creative, held very strong dogmatic beliefs and had an ability to do whatever it took to get to the top. All qualities that made schizophrenics ideal candidates for dictators, priesthood and artists. As such, schizophrenics played a vital role in human evolution. One of the many fascinating facts described in Horrobin's book is that there is a strong correlation today between highly creative thinkers - say Nobel Prize winners - and schizophrenia. For many highly gifted people, there is a close relative suffering from schizophrenia

Unfortunately, first the agricultural revolution, with its move away from a diet containing abundant fish oil, and our modern diets, full of saturated fats, the wrong fats for our brains, have turned a condition which had possibly more positive than negative effects into one where the patient is often a danger to himself and others (often the mother).

This book has some amazing implications, such as, the world is not black and white, with 99% being normal and 1% completely abnormal, but many of us are a little abnormal (and few may be "completely normal" ?), or, that mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, manic depression or even dyslexia are all related and people affected by them are paying the evolutionary price for the creative brains of other, normal people, to the extent that there is a strong correlation between such illnesses even within families and the existence of highly gifted family members.

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