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on 7 July 2006
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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on 25 August 2011
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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on 31 December 2006
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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on 17 March 2014
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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on 3 August 2001
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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on 25 September 2009
This excellent examination of the origins of human madness as it relates to human creativity is fascinating. In essence, the author is suggesting that neuroses are basically psychoses less expressed, and that great human creativity requires a small "dosage". Was Mozart then an "8% manic-depressive paranoid schizophrenic", with elements of clinical compulsivity, obsessiveness, delusions, anxiety, paranoia, mania and depression? Brain chemistry is posited as the key to questions related to the degree to which mental illness is expressed, quite possibly including dementia.

An important book forming a counterpart to the more recent "10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution".
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on 28 December 2013
Excellent book. Clearly written. Very interesting theories. A scientist that can think outside the box. Whether the solutions he offers work or not is not really the point. It is food for I thought and psychiatrist and those working in mental health facilities should read it.
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on 21 May 2001
After reading this book, one can really understand the complexities and simplicities that the human being is capable or incapable of dealing with. Finally a book that clearly and in simple language tells everybody in a scientific way that "All is in the mind". If one can really streamline and manage their thought process the world would definitely be a much much better place to live in.
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on 30 December 2015
Deserves more attention. Readable, packed with in-depth accessible knowledge.
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on 14 July 2013
Clear guideline of how long it will take.
Good follow up.
Delivery within expected time line.
The book is in good enough order given that it is second hand and given the price.
I was pleased to get the book as it is out of print.
My good experience now makes me think that buying a book in this way is worthwhile.
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