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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Trials of Life

I just read this on David Byrne's web journal.

Artists and Schizophrenia

Read in The Guardian that geneticists now see links between crazy artists and just plain crazies. Geneticists have long been puzzled why schizophrenia (bi-polar disorder) hasn’t been eliminated by natural selection. Acute sufferers have trouble functioning, so their chances of producing offspring are low — so why has the percentage of people with this disorder remained more or less consistent (1%)? If they don't reproduce they should dwindle and eventually disappear — with the occasional random mutation occurring now and then.
It seems it was those crazy artists who are to blame. They think that the gene for creativity is one of a pair — and the other one, when present, produces full-blown schizophrenia. It’s been long recognized that schizophrenics are — when functional — creative, inventive, and imaginative. So now scientists think that schizophrenics share this “creative gene” with arty creative types, but sadly, the crazies got the other gene, too.
So here’s where the 1% comes from. Creative types, so scientists claim, have active sex lives — and often produce a fair number of kids, legitimate or not. And I guess all it takes is for both of the parents to possess halves of the creative/schizo gene pair for the offspring to be prone to the disorder. Hence the continued existence of the disorder in the species. If one accepts that wild arty creativity is important for the species as a whole, then the evolutionary reasoning is clear — except why must we have the unfortunate side effect of a percentage of crazies just to have the needed arties?
Maybe it’s like Asperger’s, a matter of degree. A little bit autistic or schizo and you are extraordinarily focused in the former case, or possess surprising insights in the latter. But if it goes too far and you’ve got a full dose you’re dysfunctional in both cases. But both are needed for society and our species, so the percentage of loonies and autistic rockers is the price we pay.


Oscar Grillo said...

I'd love to hear what's the opinion about politicians like Bush, Blair or Howard as well!

Elliot said...

Scientists long ago isolated the "politician" gene, Oscar.
It's the same gene that causes certain animals to shun the daylight.
The same genetic quirk that makes living in the slime pleasing for frogs and eels but not anyone else.
It's something well beyond a mental illness...

AndyMurray said...

Thats it!!! I knew i was need to question anymore!!!....

off to play with my collection of heads!

and draw pwetty pwictures!! yay

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