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The Madness of Adam and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity [Paperback]

D.F. Horrobin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2002
Using the theory of evolution, the first modern humans originated in Africa, and from there they migrated to Eurasia and Australasia. These humans carried with them the genetic basis of schizophrenia, the only major illness found to the same extent in all racial groups. This universal distribution shows that the disease must have been present before the races separated. Modern evidence shows that families where schizophrenia is present are also exceptionally creative in many different fields. In this book David Horrobin draws on his knowledge of medicine, of evolution, of psychiatry, of Africa and of nutrition to present the hypothesis that we are human because some of us are schizophrenic and because a "touch of schizophrenia" is associated with exceptional skills of many sorts with a creativity that defines humans and separates us from our nearest primate.


Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi Books; New edition edition (1 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055299930X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999304
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The central assertion of The Madness of Adam and Eve, a fine essay in evolutionary neurobiology from author and scientist David Horrobin, is that the terrible disease of schizophrenia is in some ways a concomitant to the uniqueness of man. Horrobin develops his sometimes daunting argument with finesse. In plain-spoken yet never condescending prose he begins by explaining how the first man-like hominids evolved from the ancient apes, how Homo Sapiens learned to walk tall, to speak proper, and to store fat in breasts and buttocks against the days of famine. The latter step might seem minor, but it is crucial to Horrobin's thesis. He believes that it is this special human "fattiness" that causes schizophrenia in our large, fat-hungry brains (which is, incidentally, why fat-rich Western societies experience more schizotypal illness than fat-poor Third World ones). The importance of all this, according to Horrobin, is that schizophrenia is both sister and father to the remarkable creativity of man; witness all the mad or near-mad geniuses there have been: Byron, Strindberg, Einstein, Joyce, Newton, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, for example. As might be gleaned from the above, this is not the easiest of books. The science is demanding, the argumentation often dense. But it is never less than absorbing, striking, and quite refreshingly clever.--Sean Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'The best service to readers probably is to recommend the book in the strongest possible terms.' -- Prof. Henry H Bauer, Journal of Scientific Exploration --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe this is worth reading, but who would? 7 July 2006
Format:Paperback
Quote from book - "To speak simultaneously fulfilling our need for oxygen we require very sophisticated brains for controlling our breathing and also for the complex sensory processes of hearing, understanding and remembering long strings of sound. None of the language theorists has provided mechanisms by which all these skills were simultaneously acquired"

This book has an unusual theme and that is, trying to link schizophrenia with the shaping of humanity, which after reading through its 296 pages, is quite a theory and merits looking at.

This is a very well researched book and contains a lot of information about anthropology, which can be a bore, if it's not a subject of interest to its reader. This book is layered with interesting facts obtained by scientists about the evolution of species, as it were and provides a good insight into the distant past of humans.

The way in which schizophrenia is linked with the evolution is poetic at times in its structure, and creates a very positive view on schizophrenia, with its little snippets of information, regarding the illness in some very important families it provides good reading material.

This book is not for everyone, anyone interested in anything to do with anthropology will find themselves at home, anyone who has schizophrenia or has a relative with this illness will find a nice perspective on schizophrenia. Not for everybody.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 3 Aug 2001
Format:Hardcover
A truly insightful and fascinating account of what it takes to make us human and how close that may be to what makes us mad. A clear well-written, well-rounded account - though occasionally repetitious. Despite that well worth its five stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad geniuses all? 25 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up 10 years ago from a woman selling ex-review copies for charity and twice it nearly went to the charity shop (if I've not read it by now...) but twice I read on the back "Horrobin recasts schzophrenia as the single most important factor in the victorious emergence of Homo sapiens" and decided to hang onto it. While I might require a definition of "victorious", I had to read this book which might just answer my question of "where did we go wrong?" So I did, last month, and what a joy! Written by a scientist but one who can write in an engaging and passionate way, this book weaves human (hominid) development with diet, genetics and brain biochemistry. While it might not appeal to all, it is very readable (I'd even go so far as to say a page-turner - I really did get hooked!) and the sections on biochemistry are a must-read for anyone who eats. Sadly, David Horrobin died a few years ago. He lived near Edinburgh and boy do I wish I could have met him and asked him so many more questions on this fscinating topic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Sarah
Format:Hardcover
I read this book a couple of years ago. As an older sibling of someone with schizophrenia, I have read several books and articles on this subject. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt, as another reviewer has said, that it was written with a very positive and refreshing view of an illness which is so often portrayed negatively and with so little understanding within society and particularly the media. The parallels between creative ability and the thought processes of people with schizophrenia are fascinating along with the personal and familial links with schizophrenia amongst many of the great artists, writers and scientists in history. The book also covers the chemical and physiological aspects of the illness along with interesting research regarding evolutionary, social and environmental factors which may have contributed to the condition. Overall this is a sensitively written book which provides a positive and forward thinking perspective on schizophrenia and more importantly those people who live with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a personal insight in intriguing topics 17 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An intriguing and very personal book written as a memento of a scientist who died after this book was published. Although the content should not be taken literally, several proposed ideas have found sufficient evidence in tha last years. I remember that this book has been cited twice in SciAm considering lipids and memory.
For the lay person, insights in eugenics, the roots of all religions, development of psychiatry and short, open minded criticism of main fringe theories is worth reading. The main disadvantage is that these short, often unique essays are scattered through out the text, so reading is something like mining.
Do not expect that this is a manifesto of a new theory, it is more a diary of a critical thinker who took decades to define certain ideas about our origin, while trying to avoid the usual traps. The book gives much more questions than answers, so the second reading is highly recommended.
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