Hywel Davies reviewed the book “The Madness of Adan and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity” by David Horrobin for The Voices Forum in about 2002
This book is an intelligent and courageous text that links mental “illness” and creativity in a radical, articulate and informed manner. Horrobin states that “schizophrenia” has helped the evolutionary ascent of humankind from ape to man in the past 100,000 years.
Dr. Horrobin lives in Scotland and is the current President of the Schizophrenia Association of Great Britain (SAGB). A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, he obtained the best medical degree of his year. He added a clinical medical degree and a doctorate in neuroscience. He was a Fellow of Magdalen College, where he taught medicine. His academic career took him to St. Mary’s Hospital in London, to Nairobi where he helped to found the new medical school, to Newcastle and to Montreal. In 1970 Dr. Horrobin became an Adviser to SAGB. Thus began a lifetime of interest in “schizophrenia” which, combined with a fascination for Africa and human origins, led to the generation of concepts discussed in this innovative text.
Horrobin states that about 100,000 years ago we became human. We became human because some of us are different. A species of clever ape, which had evolved slowly over a period of three million years, abruptly became something different. Technical, spiritual, religious, artistic, musical, political, military and criminal abilities emerged and exploded. Ape became Human.
We are human because some of us are “schizophrenic”. In other words, some of us have an “abnormal” access to an altered state of consciousness which both enchants and petrifies the person experiencing it. “A touch of schizophrenia” is associated with exceptional creative skills, both good and evil. In the footsteps of that extraordinary creativity (a creativity that defines us and separates us from our nearest primate relatives), the human world of art, literature, music, sculpture and faith moves shockingly but brilliantly onward.
According to Horrobin, the early cave painters of Spain and France (30,000 years ago), Sir Isaac Newton, James Joyce, Albert Einstein and Kafka all possessed “a touch of schizophrenia”. Out of their crippled “lunacy” a new kind of evolutionary ascent of humankind was born. –
There appears to be a link between “schizophrenia” and genius. For Horrobin, it is no coincidence that Albert Einstein had a son labelled by psychiatry as “schizophrenic”, as was James Joyce’s daughter and Carl Jung’s mother.
At times, unfortunately, people with schizophrenia can be verbally and/or physically violent. However, nutritional treatment can significantly reduce violence amongst prisoners in prisons (page 225 of the book). And multivitamin capsules containing a mixture of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids from evening primrose oil and fish oil can help the severely “mentally ill”, (pages 216 to 218).
This book deserves to be read.
The book was published by Bantam Press in 2001, 275pp, ISBN 0593 046498, £18.99.
Hywel Davies is Chair of Hearing Voices Network, Cymru.