Mental Problems Gave Early Humans an Edge – life – 07 November 2011 – New Scientist

Mental problems gave early humans an edge – life – 07 November 2011 – New Scientist.

According to this very thoughtful piece published in the latest issue of New Scientist:

Many conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as developmental conditions like autism, are at least in part inherited from our parents. If they affect people’s chance of survival you would expect natural selection to have eliminated them, but instead they persist at high levels.
Some argue that these genes bring benefits – mental illness and genius have a long-standing link – but archaeologist Penny Spikins at the University of York, UK, goes further. She believes that mental illness and conditions such as autism persist at such high levels because in the past they were advantageous to humanity. “I think that part of the reason Homo sapiens were so successful is because they were willing to include people with different minds in their society – people with autism or schizophrenia, for example.”
The article’s author, Kate Revilious, ends by making the plea that Instead of ostracising people with maverick minds, we would do better to cherish them.  Well said!

One thought on “Mental Problems Gave Early Humans an Edge – life – 07 November 2011 – New Scientist

  1. Sounds like a very interesting hypothesis. I wish I had a registration with them in order to read the whole thing. However, I think that this in tandem with what Nassir Ghaemi talks about in terms of leadership and bipolar disorder, there might be some evidence to substantiate this idea that mental illness is beneficial to a community.

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