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The Madness of Adam and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity Hardcover – April 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

This radical, highly readable and absorbing narrative leads to a new understanding of human evolution.

100,000 years ago we became human, and technical, religious, artistic, military and criminal abilities emerged. The first modern humans migrated from Africa to Eurasia and Australasia, carrying with them the genetic basis of schizophrenia, the only major illness found to the same extent in all racial groups. Modern evidence shows that families where schizophrenia is present are also exceptionaly creative in many different fields. Albert Einstein and James Joyce each had a schizophrenic child. David Horrobin draws on his knowledge of evolution, medicine and psychiatry to generate a startling hypothesis: we are human because some of us are schizophrenic and because a "touch of schizophrenia" is associated with that creativity which defines us and separates us from our nearest primate relatives. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Horrobin has a doctorate in neuroscience. He specializes in developing new drugs for psychiatric and neurological disorders. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593046498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593046494
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By maximusone on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
David Horrobin argues that, as long ago as 3 million years ago, early man - homo erectus - lived close to and off water - rivers and lakes - and his diet contained a fair amount of fish as well as bone marrow from captured animals (who in turn lived off the water). This fish - and animals living off fish or other aquatic organisms - in turn contained so called fatty acids which allowed our human brains over time to become much more creative. Modern human brains consist to a large extent of fat. Hence also, why humans are so much "fatter" then our closest relatives, the chimps. The essential fatty acids in our diets enabled our existing brain cells to better communicate with each other. But a side effect of this evolution was the emergence of schizophrenia.

At some point around 150,000 years ago, someone must have been borne with a genetic mutation which we now call schizophrenia, although his or her behaviour was more what we now would call schizoid, i.e. light schizophrenia. Horrobin argues that throughout human history schizophrenics were often very gifted people, who were creative, held very strong dogmatic beliefs and had an ability to do whatever it took to get to the top. All qualities that made schizophrenics ideal candidates for dictators, priesthood and artists. As such, schizophrenics played a vital role in human evolution. One of the many fascinating facts described in Horrobin's book is that there is a strong correlation today between highly creative thinkers - say Nobel Prize winners - and schizophrenia.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Edith Swanek on December 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
To begin with, I purchased my copy from, the British arm, well over a year ago. Even being shipped from England to the U.S., it's still probably the best way for an American to buy this great book...
You may have heard various movie characters at various times say something along the lines of "We all go a little bit insane sometimes".
Horrobin shows pretty convincingly that "we ARE all a little bit insane at ALL times". In essence, the biochemical manifestations of serious mental illness, when LESS chemically severe, manifest themselves as creativity, imagination, audacity, fixation, obsession, compulsion, etc. A given person might in fact be "3% manic-depressive/bipolar", "2% schizoid", "4% paranoic", etc., and not only function well on a daily basis, but actually function as a great thinker, artist, inventor, or world leader.
Take the "quirks" of major leaders in World War II - from Hitler with his sheer terror at his own flatulence, Stalin drawing 1000 red pencil pictures of wolf heads ever day, De Gaulle regarding himself as "the male Joan of Arc", Patton thinking he had lived dozens of times previously, and Roosevelt allowing both his own and his wife's mistresses to live on the same floor, to Churchill greating world leaders in the buff. All "a little bit insane"? Not so very different from the rest of us, each with his or her own eccentricities...and all very, very human.
This book is both intellectually and socially important to the exact extent it forces us to look at humanity and its mental condition as a full range, rather than categories and "cut-off points".
Most highly recommended!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Diamond Dave on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although this is a fine book, many others have recently pointed out that autism spectrum conditions may also have contributed to the emergence of the modern human mind. It too is found in all racial groups to an equal degree. I was disappointed that autism's contribution to the emergence of the human mind was dismissed in less then one page, saying that autistic people have too narrow a focus to their obsessional interests to be of any use. As a person with an autism spectrum condition, Asperger Syndrome and a PhD student, I find this disappointing. I am not saying that the central thesis of the book is incorrect, but the additional contribution of autistic people was ignored. I believe it is likely that both conditions worked to create the human mind. I imagine autism brought mathematics, physics and engineering, affinity for physical systems and predictable logic whereas Schizophrenia brought us art, religion, randomness, lose association and novel creativity. You can see that both conditions could intertwine and contribute. The association with autism and schizophrenia appears genetic. Einstein, now considered to have had Asperger Syndrome, had a son who was Schizophrenic. Also note that autism was not distinguished from as schizophrenia until the 1970's and it's milder form, Asperger Syndrome, was not accepted as a valid diagnosis until the 1990's. To balance this book I would recommend Prof. Fitzgerald's book, Autism and Creativity: Is there a link between Autism in Men and exceptional ability.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fausto Labruto on September 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is an informative and stimulating reading about mental illness, its physiological basis and its role in the history of human development. I enjoyed reading this book. The information about how the brain works and the theory on how mental illness develops are well described. The text is not difficult to follow for the layman and not boring at all for the scientist. From accurate descriptions the author develops his and other people's theories on schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. I found his hypothesis very imaginative. Some of them are based on solid datas, others are most speculative and, quite frankly, become too far-fetched. Nevertheless they are stimulating because they have an interesting global and holistic view of the matters involved. By reading this book you will learn a lot about neuropathophysiology and anthropology and you will be amused by some very interesting theories which, if proven true, will very much change the common way of looking at mental illness and human history. I recommend this book to all readers interested in popular science and I must acknowledge an entertaining writing style and impeccable scientific approach to references and to critical thinking. The author has demonstrated to be both knowledgable and creative.
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