Kate Ravilious wrote a piece about the idea that ‘homo sapiens rose to dominance over other hominins because of a greater tolerance for psychiatric conditions that produce unorthodox ways of thinking...’ In the editorial accompanying that issue (2837 November 2011) the editor put forward a case for the benefits to modern society of being more accept- ing of mental illness (Gosh, really?). There followed a critique of DSM, and the idea that the ‘bewildering array of conditions’ could be replaced by a similar framework of ‘dimensions’. – scores for traits along continuous scales. ‘That would reinforce the view that these is no clear dividing line between mental health and illness.’
‘Will discarding the concepts of ‘normal’ and ‘mad’ lead humanity to new heights, mirroring the advances that might have stemmed from earlier tolerance of unusual thinking? Perhaps not. But it should definitely promote a clearer and more compassionate view of the misfit minds among us. That must be a good thing.’ This editorial was actually truly revolutionary –and extraordinary coming from a science viewpoint.
Read Kate Ravilious’ article in New Scientist 2837 – usually available in public libraries.