Currently beliefs regarding the chain of events which lead to an individual being diagnosed with schizophrenia are based on family, twin, and adoption studies which suggest that both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the development of this condition. Other theories focus on the cognitive faculties of affected individuals but they are usually written from the point of view of investigators who are mentally normal, so that they tend to lack a truly accurate representational paradigm. None, for example, allow that telepathy is even within the realm of possibility, much less that it is such a common feature of the human perceptual experience given the incidence of schizophrenia in the general population. In this, and the following chapters, I will endeavour to present a cognitive theory which corrects this deficit. I may not be able to speak for all of those who suffer from the delirium of schizophrenia, but I can at least evaluate my own experience in a rhetorical context which is reasonably formal.
I will refrain from discussing some theoretical approaches because they are less useful to me. Others I will discuss elsewhere, such as the view that somehow relations within the family are responsible, or that substance abuse has led to a lasting biochemical disturbance within the brain. While this may be so in my case, I believe that a comparison between the cognitive approach, and the conflict between genetic and environmental explanations, will incorporate the essential features of how I describe my experience. They may be two aspects of the same thing, but they differ in several ways, not least in terms of their methodology, so I will begin by briefly comparing these theoretical approaches.
The family, twin, and adoption studies involve a statistical analysis of survey data collected after an affected individual has been identified. These surveys investigate the incidence of disease in relatives of the individual in question, and show that first degree relatives are more likely to be affected than more distant relatives, or those selected from the population at random. While the family studies indicate the heritability of schizophrenia, the twin and adoption studies allow investigators to distinguish between genetic and environmental factors. Identical twins provide a means of evaluating the magnitude of these factors by comparing twins who were adopted into different families, with those who grew up in the same family. Either both were affected, or only one was. If only one identical twin was affected then the family environments in which they each grew up must have been involved in the production of this outcome, either to encourage one of the pair to behave normally, or to persuade the other to resort to devious thinking. As it happens, the literature suggests that the rates are very similar. About half the twins who grew up in different families were both affected, indicating the involvement of a genetic factor. In the other half of the sample only one presented with the condition which indicates that environmental factors were involved, and this division was also observed in the case of identical twins who grew up in the same family. The theoretical implications of these studies suggest that a combination of both environmental and genetic factors is involved in the production of this outcome.
In the past there was some conflict between those who believed that genes were responsible for the development of this condition, and those who believed that adapting to a stressful environment was. But today, because these studies implicate both factors, most people accept that an interaction between a person's genes and his environment, best accounts for the coordination of his deviant behaviour. Yet, in spite of such positive findings, the explanation for schizophrenia remains somewhat lacking because similar surveys of healthy people would undoubtedly implicate these factors in the aetiology of say business success, or musical talent. The question remains as to why some become schizophrenic and others not, when a genetic predisposition is present in both cases as the twin studies suggest. My personal view is that schizophrenia represents an alternative means of negotiating the relationship between self and other, so implicating an interaction between the affected individual's genetic endowment, and his environment, is not an issue I'm likely to object to. I am, however, more inclined to believe that an affected individual has chosen this path; that he or she is not a helpless victim as some would have us believe. It is a mistake, in my view, to doubt that the affected individual has been a willing participant in the development of this condition.
While the cognitive approach is better equipped to deal with the context in which choices are made in life, it would nevertheless be a mistake to discard the correspondence between the genetic and environmental explanations. The twin studies represent solid facts which add substantially to the empirical framework of physical science, and it would seem from our discussion of the regression of abstractions, that a synthesis of all three positions is possible anyway. If matter is organised according to organic themes which recur throughout the scales of existence, then both the molecular scale of genes and the external environment in which we socialise, are implicated in a dialogue which transcends the scale of our existence, and in which we are all unavoidably involved. The synthesis of differing views only requires the addition of a creative and discriminating ego who may renegotiate the relationship between self and other, and remodel the presentation of ideal by performing all sorts of emblematic behaviours.
If you think that I'm harping on with all this talk about the regression of abstractions, then you've probably underestimated the schizophrenic fascination with the relativity of spatial and temporal perceptions. Space and time are senses which are more subtle than you give them credit for. While you may confidently feel that space and time have some kind of immutability about them, you actually consent to reinforce this view with the people you encounter in the course of your daily life. You ignore the view that space and time are senses which may be of an entirely personal nature. It never occurs to you that you may look at them in a different way because of your compulsion to conform with the wisdom of conventional thinking. But if you are naturally inclined towards a fundamental expression of dissent, then a personally liberating apprehension of these senses may establish the basis for an interesting alternative.
If I may relate some anecdotal evidence let me say that once upon a time, very early in my childhood, I had a perfectly transcendental view of time and space, and that later these memories inspired much of my deviant behaviour. In fact, it was a comparison between these memories and my situation as a 22 year old that first motivated me to follow the path which eventually led to my diagnosis with schizophrenia. I broke up with a girl, had a good long look at the misery in the world, and felt I'd like to try something completely different. I had been reading Castaneda's 'Journey to Ixtlan', which offered the hope of learning how to reacquire the dreaming skills I remember possessing as a very young child. Apart from attempting to console myself with the happiness I remembered from this time, I thought that dreaming skills would be real handy one day, when it came to my final confrontation with Death.
I couldn't tell you whether my early childhood sense of time and space represented a genetic abnormality, or whether my mother was somehow able to draw my attention to the timeless nature of my perception. I also couldn't tell you the extent to which these factors were involved in my ability to remember the experience as an adult. I'm inclined to believe that each and every one of us is able to recall such experiences, if only we were exposed to the appropriate perceptual stimuli. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you told me that you were beginning to remember fragments of your own early childhood experience, as you read these pages, because for me it was just a matter of possessing the logical key which unlocked the secreted memories. I could go on about the delightful symmetry between birth and death, and how the sort of mental imagery with which we represent them is at least similar, if otherwise incongruous in some respects. But that would be like skipping ahead of the story. I will return to this discussion shortly, but for now let me continue with my discussion of psychiatric theories.
While the debate between genetic and environmental explanations is all very interesting, it only obliquely addresses the mental behaviour of those who suffer from what is, after all, a mental illness. The two theoretical positions are firstly, that environmental stresses figure largely in an affected individual's thinking, and secondly, that genetically acquired resources are used in the course of problem solving. But schizophrenia is a little more complicated than such simple explanations imply. As it happens the cognitive approach has little to say about the cause of schizophrenia, dealing mostly with the therapeutic rehabilitation of affected individuals. But it does at least enable a discussion of the sort of thinking which is characteristic of this disease, and research has focused on such mental phenomena as perception, problem solving, and the representation of knowledge by individuals who present with this condition.
According to therapists of this sort schizophrenics suffer from a distorted perception of the world and themselves, and are characterised by having a very disorganised manner of thinking. If you detect a note of sarcasm in this suggestion then don't laugh too soon, because to tell you the truth I was a raving lunatic once upon a time. You couldn't make sense of most of what I had to say, and I'm sure you won't have any difficulty believing it. So, much as I would like to persuade you to adopt my point of view, I won't deny that what they say about schizophrenia represents a fair assessment of the matter. You venture into a labyrinth when you change your relationship with time and space. You could be anywhere if you just stopped and thought about it for a moment, and as for those who do stop everything for a moment, well, no wonder they get a little confused. Schizophrenia consists of a very personal representation of an affected individual's place in this world. There is rarely someone physically present to guide him or her through the labyrinth of perceptual possibilities, and solitude is not only a personal preference for many of these individuals but a matter of fundamental practicality when it comes to the cultivation of deviant perceptions.
And in case you're thinking that a psychiatrist could help out in this regard it is worth noting just whose interests they serve. There's no denying that schizophrenia is a very debilitating illness, and that the community is justified in having grave concerns for the welfare of affected individuals. But by the same token it is also true that the community has little interest in understanding what it is that motivates a schizophrenic to assume such a deviant point of view. The schizophrenic point of view is invalid as far as the community is concerned, and psychiatric theory tends to reflect this attitude. Psychiatric theory therefore represents a fairly shallow endeavour to make affected individuals more manageable in society, without giving any credence to the view of those who are characteristically in conflict with the group whose values they have chosen to renounce. According to this view psychiatric theory may be seen to serve the interests of the group rather than those of the affected individuals. Psychiatrists will be very careful not to make concessions to the views of their schizophrenic patients for fear of lending them validity, and for fear of compromising the moral authority on which they will ultimately rely.
You may have assumed while reading these pages that telling you about my experience has been a simple matter, that my story unfolds easily, and that one thing leads to another until eventually I arrive at my conclusion. Well, this may be so, but only because writing is a medium in which I am always able to control my relationship with you. It is another matter entirely to speak of these things in the context of casual conversation with people who don't necessarily know me very well. I'm sure you will appreciate the difficulty I would have trying to explain these things to a psychiatrist in his consulting rooms, on the basis of assumptions about our relationship which give me very little credibility to begin with. I learned early in my psychiatric career not to mention the things I feel confident about sharing with you here.
It may also have occurred to you that there's nothing wrong with my thinking. I may have some strange ideas, but the psychotic thinking characteristic of schizophrenia has been filed off the mental track I'm inclined to follow through continuous and habitual use. Yet in spite of my apparent rehabilitation, psychiatrists, along with most of humanity no doubt, really don't want to know about the sometimes disturbing ideas I'm presenting to you here. As far as they are concerned invalidity is the natural place for both myself and the fundamentally grotesque vision of existence I'm peddling. You won't need to tax your imagination to conceive of how much it threatens them, but add to this the possibly telepathic nature of my experience, and I for one won't be surprised if some of them go to a lot of trouble to discredit me.
In spite of the obvious coherence of what I have to say here, a lot of people will want to refute the existence of telepathic beings because they threaten to transform human relations in ways which are likely to be unpredictable. Basically, humans hate the idea of someone being able to 'read their mind' because it compromises their privacy, it means that they have to shield their thoughts in some way, and I know how difficult this can be from some excruciating personal experience. When I first began to realise the sensitivity of my perception I remember trying to shield it from contact with other people's thoughts, but of course there are no muscles in the brain so this endeavour proved to be ultimately futile. I've also seen others do likewise, I believe that few people are in possession of a reliable 'poker face', and I've seen on several occasions how mentally vulnerable some people are. There can be no doubt about the nature of their inner conflict, because the body language is unmistakable.
So, how do I go about proving to you that we are all fundamentally telepathic? Let me start by throwing you in at the deep end with the discussion of a little physics. I believe that a rudimentary grasp of James Clerk Maxwell's treatment of electricity and magnetism, will set the scene nicely. Physics provides us with a very powerful tool which may be used to explain our experience of the world, and our understanding of the universe leaped forward when Maxwell made note of four simple equations during the nineteenth century.
Maxwell's equations summarise in four elegantly simple mathematical statements an aspect of nature so pervasive as to trumpet with significance from the tiniest of atoms to the vastness of planets, stars and galaxies. They summarise the relationship between electricity and magnetism, and since their publication more than a century ago, have lead to the flourishing of modern science and technology.
The first two equations establish the geometry of electricity and magnetism, stating simply that, while an electric charge may exist in isolation, magnetic poles occur only in pairs, surrounded by the flowering of their characteristic field lines. You will no doubt be aware that atoms are composed of electric charges. Positively charged protons are located close to the centre of atoms, and negatively charged electrons orbit the protons at a distance of about a tenth of a nanometre. This has a bearing on our discussion because the next two equations make the more interesting claims that while a rotating electric field will induce magnetism, a changing magnetic field will in turn produce electricity. An interesting consequence of this is the ability to differentiate a wave equation. In the simple case of an atom of hydrogen, for example, as the electron moves through its orbit it is located on opposite sides of the atom alternately, so that the fields oscillate in space, and radiant energy is produced. Maxwell's equations thus lead directly to our modern view of electromagnetic radiation.
If you picture the atom so that its orbital plane is parallel to your line of sight, then the electron traces a line back and forth from one side of the proton to the other. This description of the behaviour of an electron is fairly crude, but even so, a hydrogen atom behaves like an electric dipole antenna, positive at one end and negative at the other, with a reversal of polarity half way through each cycle of oscillation. Atoms and groups of atoms emit radiation quite naturally, but what about the production of radiation on a more familiar scale? If you held a small length of fence wire between your thumb and forefinger, and rotated a bar magnet, end over end, in the vicinity of the stub of wire, then the wire would emit a signal in time with the rotation of the magnet. The rotation of the magnet propels electrons from one end of the wire to the other, over and over, and the oscillating electric field produces an electromagnetic signal. In the case of the antenna attached to your citizen band radio, or the tower which transmits your favourite radio station, the propulsion of electrons is produced electronically, but the result is the same, radio waves are transmitted in every direction.
When the electric field of the antenna oscillates in this way it is not likely to be the only oscillation the field is experiencing. In fact, the field is oscillating at countless different wavelengths and frequencies at the same time because the antenna resonates according to signals from numerous other sources. In the case of your reception of television, for example, the antenna is receiving all those channels simultaneously. When you tune in to a particular channel the tuner simply samples a narrow band within the range of resonance, and ignores resonance from the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radiation therefore behaves in a way which is not unlike the sort of waves you have seen on the surface of water.
Electrons flow through metals much like ripples on a pond so that, in the case of your CB radio, even when your microphone button is not pressed and no signal is being sent, the antenna resonates with the electromagnetic flux in its vicinity. It 'reflects' this noise, and thus becomes a source of radiation itself. When you press the button to send a message the antenna doesn't suddenly burst with radiant energy, because it radiates continuously anyway. Instead the pattern of oscillation which characterises your voice is made to conform with the requirements of the signal processor, and a new ripple is cast on the surface of the pond.
Antennas of this sort are usually made of metal because metals are good conductors of electricity, but this doesn't mean that other materials, such as water, are not particularly good at conducting electricity, and couldn't be used as an alternative. The problem with water is the one of getting it to stand up straight like a metal antenna, rather than the one of getting it to conduct an oscillating electric field. As it happens animal bodies are composed of nearly 60 percent water, so they are slightly less receptive than metals when it comes to the resonance of electromagnetic energy. But this is not to say that they don't absorb and emit it at various wavelengths and frequencies. It may surprise you to learn that there is quite a lot of electricity in animal bodies. Both muscle and nerve fibres are thought of as electrical tissues, and when mineral salts are dissolved in the blood they ionize to produce charged particles called electrolytes. There is also quite a lot of iron in the blood, about 4 grams in normal adults, which is enough to make a small bar magnet about a half a cubic centimetre by volume. So, much as you would like to deny the possibility, our bodies are steeped in electromagnetic energy and telepathic relations between animals are very likely, because wherever there is an interaction between electricity and magnetism, radiation of this sort is both transmitted and received. The question really is one of how people can convince themselves that telepathy is not possible, when at odd times throughout their lives it is not unusual for them to experience a profound mental intimacy with people who may be complete strangers.
As for the question of how people can deny the existence of this faculty, let me say that a long time ago, before language became such a formal implement of social relations, I believe that humans were as telepathic as anyone. At this time human relations were so well coordinated that they were able to dominate the grassy savannah, so they must have had a means of relating the complex differentiation of roles to each other. In the absence of a formal language they must have been able to relate to each other in terms which we would regard as telepathic. But, as their relations became even more complex, their representation required greater precision, and so the formality of spoken words began to replace the mental representations which they were previously accustomed to. Before long humans were so dependent on the convenience of spoken language that their previous means of communication was forgotten, and with the rise of the culture of individualism telepathy became such a threat to their privacy that it was discredited entirely. Today this faculty is so threatening to many human beings, and so long forgotten by them, that it is now regarded, not as a natural attribute of all living things, but as the definitive symptom of a serious mental disease.
I won't deny that I represent a fairly provocative point of view with regard to this matter, and I won't be surprised if a lot of you have difficulty accepting it. Fortunately there exists a fairly objective proof of its validity which has been known to investigators for many years, although not as a proof of telepathy. When I read about this experiment the first thing I thought of was its bearing on the case for telepathic relations between animals, but in your case you will probably require just a little credence in order to arrive at my conclusion. I refer to inferences which can be drawn from the surprisingly successful attempts some people have had teaching chimpanzees and dolphins the sign language which was developed to help the deaf communicate with others in possession of this language.
As it happens it was a chimpanzee named Washoe who was the first animal ever to learn a human language. She was born in Africa and brought to America as an infant in 1965, and was taught to sign in order to communicate her needs to her adopted human family. By the age of four she had learned more than 130 signs, and she continued to learn signs well into her adulthood. Not only could she repeat what she had been taught, but she could also make up new words by combining signs, such as the water - bird combination she signed when she first encountered a swan. Her capacity for creative abstraction is thus not a matter you can seriously dispute. In Washoe's case, however, she was taught to sign by instructors who remained silent while signing, so she never learned to associate spoken words with the signs which she was learning. But in a similar experiment involving a female gorilla named Koko, the English words were spoken while the signs were being demonstrated, which resulted in Koko being able to recognise some 2000 English words during the course of this experiment. This suggests that primates are able to mentally represent their environment, and their relationship to it, in some detail, and with this complexity it is reasonable to assume that they internally discuss such things as tirelessly as we do. It is also worth noting in Washoe's case that communicating with others in her family group was so natural to her, that she spontaneously taught her adopted son, Loulis, the signs which had allowed her to communicate so effectively with humans.
My point is that if these primates are able to correspond so elaborately with humans who are only distantly related to them, then correspondence with members of their own kind must be even more elaborate, because their motivation is so much more acute. Now, I'm not suggesting that their representation of the world is particularly technical by our standards, but I do believe that they possess a comprehensive world view, which is much more elaborate than their wild caterwauling suggests. You could ask yourself how intricate your beliefs would be if you had upwards of a couple of thousand categories to play with. I'm sure you will agree that because primates are fundamentally social beings such an elaborate representation of themselves would be shared within the group. So, in the absence of a recognisable language, I am able to implicate the conduct of some kind of telepathic discussion between them. I believe that their description of the world incorporates a great deal of subtlety which is nowhere evident in their outward social behaviour, but which is perfectly accommodated by the sort of mental representation that a telepathic faculty would allow.
While you may have doubts about my ability to win you over to this view, you can't deny that the inference is quite clear. Animals can't exist without harbouring intentions towards the others they encounter, and it is in their best interests to be able to read the intentions of others as quickly as can be. But for those of you who remain undecided there is evidence from an experiment involving dolphins which allows me to draw conclusions on the basis of an inference which is even stronger. During the 1980s Louis Herman studied the ability of dolphins to learn and respond to a vocabulary of hand signals which represented features of their environment such as the Frisbee, ball, and basket they played with, and the actions they performed such as jumping and diving. These dolphins were so adept at interpreting abstractions that they responded to hand signals displayed on a television screen, but it was the coordination of behaviour between dolphins acting in tandem that really mystified this observer.
These dolphins were trained to respond to hand signals by rewarding them when they performed the correct behaviour, and in this case the two behaviours of interest to Herman were creative spontaneity, and the coordinated behaviour of two dolphins acting in tandem. The hand signals were thus 'tandem create', and when the two dolphins trained to respond in this way saw these signals they would confer with each other, but without so much as a peep they would agree on some spontaneous behaviour, and perform it. Herman actually said that this behaviour was a complete mystery to him, but he was, of course, in no position to claim that the dolphins were in possession of telepathic powers. I only get away with such a preposterous suggestion myself because I am afflicted with schizophrenia, and have a reputation for hearing voices, so that my claim to have telepathic powers is hardly surprising. Anyone else making this claim is subject to ridicule because it seems that so few people have this ability, and most people are actually horrified by the prospect anyway.
I am going to give you a rest now because I'll bet you're feeling exhausted by this discussion. I haven't finished with this subject yet, but I know how much of a blow it is for some of you to hear me argue in this way. Give yourself a minute to gather up your thoughts, and when you feel like going on with this discussion I will relate some personal experience I acquired while herding cows for a farmer several years ago.