Mental Illness

ZELDA & LUCIA are both schizophrenic. Medical authorities are still divided over the psycho-pathology of schizophrenia - (Well they would be, wouldn't they!) For a long time opposing camps had argued that it was either hereditary or a product of the psychological environment of the family, or any permutation of the two. Since the 60s a more humane view has held sway that much schizophrenia is not 'madness' in the traditional sense, but is explicable as a product of the mind attempting to resolve a vast algebraic equation - with emotions and conceptual factors replacing numbers.

Recent findings suggest that schizophrenia may derive from a minor (and as yet incompletely understood) childhood viral infection whose effect is to misconnect the neural circuitry of the brain synapses - the millions of bio-connectors inter-linking the mind's memory-processing areas. If so, it would be analogous to the spiro-cocheal infection which is now believed to have affected Van Gogh's mental equilibrium and inspired his characteristic curvilinear patterns.

The qualities which, in a psychotic person, we call schizophrenia are essentially similar to those which an actor, or any performer, accesses in adopting a character or public persona which differs from hir own. These qualities closely relate to occasional depressive conditions that are almost endogenous to creative artists, the religious, and healers. Genetic research amongst the Amish community in the USA has established a clear hereditary link between manic depression and creativity.

I am convinced that much non-psychotic mental ill health, such as depression, is the result of an individual's developing awareness of the inadequacy of western linear-linguistic thought to express the polymorphous experience of non-rational consciousness of which Art & Religion are the manifestation. And derives almost wholly a person's individual psychic process, beginning with a painful awareness of hir inability to conform to 'rational' norms within society - by which the individual may be trapt despite profoundly disagreeing with them. The anguish being directly proportional to the individual's inability to release hirself from the sterile hypotheses of inherited dogma.

The conclusion must be that there is an important collective aspect to mental stability.

Much has been written about dis-functional families, in which one member -usually a child, and often the youngest- develops aberrant behaviour as a psychological response the emotional dynamics of the family as a unit. This provides at least one explanation for aspects of Lucia Joyce's schizophrenia. But I believe the same process is operative in Society as a whole.

To us nowadays it may seem incredible that, as in The Rite of Spring, an individual would voluntarily accept death in order, as it was supposed, to safeguard the existence of all. Not only is there every evidence that this was widespread in primitive societies, there is also evidence that selection honoured the whole family.

The key task facing advance-thinkers must be to re-fashion our concept of 'normality' to include the non-rational, in the same way physicists are being obliged to invent new concepts to embrace the ideas of a multi-dimensional universe. Until our culture evolves a world-view that includes a credible integration of the higher faculties of the mind (and the world's system concedes that the two-dimensional yardstick of money is an inadequate measure for a three /four /five-dimensional emotional world) we shall continue to exacerbate the problems of those who are struggling to that higher awareness of which the great thinkers speak.

It seems an inescapable conclusion that even in our complex multi-lateral society there is some extra-sensory quality which operates upon each of us in the same way.

As a composer I am conscious of having direct access thru music to the (non-verbal) emotions of an audience. I have come to believe that music (and indeed any art worthy the name) is putting people back in touch with the intensity of their pre-verbal emotional experience. And this is certainly what I seek to do in The Watcher in the Rain.

The striking thing about babies is the intensity of their emotions. They are never 'a little' hungry: they are invariably ravenous. They are never 'a little' happy: they are invariably bubbling with it. They are never 'a little' sad: they are terminally desolate. They are never in 'a little' pain: they are invariably on the point of death. And all this, its entire emotional world, the baby must focus into that cry.

Memories of the primal immediacy of non-verbal communication are what the successful artist stimulates within hir particular discipline. And these memories, bypassing overdeveloped Consciousness, are of infinite moment in exercising those supra-normal faculties for which everyday life has no use.

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