Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Evolutionary Benefit to Manic Depression

Or, There Must Be Some Useful Reason for this Shit!

The last time I was at the psychiatrist's, I was rambling again and had somehow got away from the subject matter in hand, which was something to do with "have you been having 'dark thoughts'" and had started wondering out loud about manic depression being an evolutionary driver in the emergence of prehistoric human consciousness. I started to list my reasons: the intense visual experiences help to isolate thing from background*, help form the abstract notion of "thing" as opposed to "whole", which all piles in with language development, etc, and of course we all know that this condition does predispose us to 'talk' and use language in new combinatory ways on occasion, and of course language development probably went hand in hand with the development of higher conscious processes - in fact I said, thumping my knee - in fact I'm just more conscious probably than the norm - yes! (I said, warming to my theme), etc... etc... etc...

She shook her head sadly, and moved on to the next question.

* Apparently this practice of isolating the important from the unimportant is called salience, and interestingly, increased dopamine is supposed to assist it.

Edit: if I can be bothered, I might pick some obvious holes in this argument.

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