… doesn’t mean they are not after you.

At the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer commented on a very interesting paper on psychotic delusions over time.

A Ljubljana psychiatric hospital had patient records all the way from 1881. Researchers randomly picked ten records from every ten year period and classified delusions according to modern standards.

Results show delusions of mind control increased with the introduction of radio in the 1920s and TV in the 1950s. It’s the famous orwellian tube controlling your mind.

Also, the 1960s saw an increase in persecutory delusions. This is usually attributed to industrialization and urbanization leading to a “cultural pressure” on individuals. However, it’s also noted that this increase matches the period of adoption of Communism in Yuguslavia. Other studies have shown this repressive period marked an increase in persecutory phenomena even among healthy individuals.

From the paper:

A very interesting finding was a significant increase in outside influence and control delusions with technical themes following the spread of radio and television in Slovenia.[…]
Both of these new technical devices, which served as a means to powerfully and quickly disseminate information, apparently became appropriate for ‘serving’ as a means of influence and control in the eyes of schizophrenia patients.

As Lehrer puts it, “mental illness is an emulsion of biology and culture”. Although schizophrenia is a biological condition with partially known neurological traits, its symptons will be influenced by the world around the patient, or at least by as it is seen by the patient.

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