Healthy Living

We’re All Schizophrenic Winos. “I don’t know how to feel — everything… | by Eric Scheske | Jan, 2024

“I don’t know how to feel — everything has to go through my brain.” The Anonymous Schizoid

William A. Ursprung, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jerry Seinfeld once said Americans will take as many prescription drugs as possible. “Doctor, figure out how much will kill me, then back it off a little.”

That’s unfortunate. We ought to figure out why the drug would kill us before taking any of it. By seeing death in the extreme, we glimpse harm in the moderate.

A similar dynamic works with mental illness. It casts bright relief on problematic traits that might otherwise go unnoticed. In the words of William James:

Insane conditions have this advantage, that they isolate special factors of the mental life, and enable us to inspect them unmasked by their more usual surroundings.

Most mental maladies, including schizophrenia and autism, result from right hemisphere damage (depression, btw, is a notable exception).

When the right hemisphere isn’t working correctly, the left hemisphere works independently.

The results range from the scary (the schizoid who needs to kill you because you’re part of the plot) to the comical (guys on the lower rungs of “the spectrum”), but they have this in common: a loss of reality.

Don Draper in Mad Men repeatedly emphasizes that advertising is about creating an experience and filling an emotional need.

In today’s world, Madison Avenue tries hard to convince consumers that its clients’ products are “authentic.”

Consumers, ad executives know, crave the “authentic.” Authenticity is the experience we’re starving for; it’s what we emotionally need.

If consumers think a product is authentic, they’ll buy it, just like a wino will buy a bottle if he thinks there’s alcohol in it.

But would a wino spend $5 on a bottle if he’s sitting on a crate of Boone’s Farm?

Probably not.


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