The Schizophrenic Brain
Before I get to the topic at hand, I want to say a few things about what many psychiatrists and psychologists consider a condition "unique" to our
industrial age: schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a severe psychological disorder which distorts natural perception of reality. Although most people
associate "hearing voices" with schizophrenia, the cardinal symptom of schizophrenia is a distorted perspective of objective reality, not hearing
voices. Schizophrenia could be described as a profound disconnect, or dissociation, of self from the world of lived experience. fMRI scans, as well as
EEG and study of brain lesions, show that schizophrenics have highly left lateralized brains. This makes a lot of sense, since the left hemisphere has
more dopaminergic pathways, while the right hemisphere has more noradrenaline pathways: psychiatrists help control schizophrenic symptoms by blocking
dopamine reception in the brain.
The schizophrenic is highly removed from his own experience of the world vis a vis his body. His chief "referent" in functioning is some abstract
idea, which becomes abstracted upon, and made "conscious"; schizophrenics are conscious of processes that are normally unconscious i.e. usually
handled by the right hemisphere: again, another cogent explanation for the over lateralization in the left hemisphere of the schizophrenic brain.
Schizophrenics have a severe deficiency of processing information with regard to context. This is the consequence of losing "contact" with the body
(awareness of the body i.e proprioception, interoception is processed mostly in the right hemisphere). Schizophrenics typically prefer "impersonal"
models or views of things: it is quite common for them to see themselves as "machines" or to disown some part of their body and see it as "different"
or to have an "agenda" against the self. This is all a breakdown of holistic, contextual perspective. Instead of the mind being embodied, it is
floating about the body, perilously "broken" and fragmented. If you read the words of a schizophrenic, or hear them in speech, you will very quickly
notice the tell-tale signs of breakdown of contextual perspective: One clause will modulate the next clause which in turn will modulate the next
clause: there is no "contextual thread" holding it all together. The schizophrenic brain seems tied down to the syllogistic perspective where a = b =
c. It gets lost in the structure, losing awareness of how the individual elements relate in a functional and meaningful whole.
The Natural World vs. The Human World
The right brain and the left brain pick up the world in different ways. The right brain is more activated when looking at a natural scene with natural
forms. The left brain conversely is more activated when looking at a scene with rectilinear forms. This makes sense: the right brain is more emotive,
context dependent, bodily oriented, relational and personal; in contrast, the left brain is logical, linear, syllogistic, focused on particles,
categories, and "impersonal".
Lines do not exist in nature, but rather, everything is "circular", that is, is wavy and edgy. Even the "horizon" is not quite a line, but an arc. The
idea of a line is a human projection upon nature reflecting the compartmentalism of the left hemispheres need to control and manipulate its
environment. Human beings who interact with a "natural environment" with natural forms are more stimulated in their right brains, and thus, appear to
experience a deeper sense of context: wholeness, a spiritual connection of self with nature and other creatures: with what exists beyond the self in
terms of a "betweenness". In contrast, the lines and gridlike patterns that define our modern cities and towns produces a "disruptive" effect in how
we feel in our environments. The very fact that such forms aren't "real" - aren't actually found in nature - this discontinuity between self and
environment may in fact have a positive feedback effect in promoting agitation and frustration in people. It is well known that schizophrenia is more
common in cities than in rural areas: the dysregulated left brained "schizophrenic" mind sees its own state "reified" in the physical patterns of the
streets and buildings it walks upon, causing further agitation in perception.
Modelling Cities on Natural Forms
I think eventually sometime in our species future, it will become more apparent that the environments we interact with have a strong unconscious
effect in how we feel. Environments which reflect natural forms promote feelings of "connectedness" between self and the other, whereas environments
with unnatural forms, like modern and post-modern art, has a disturbing effect on the unconscious mind, and therefore, has a regulating effect in how
we interact with other people and with nature.
The human organism evolved in interaction with a natural environment, with natural forms. It was only a little over 2000 years ago that the Romans
created the modern "grid system" with it's bureaucratic geometry of lines and squares. For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings evolved WITH
nature. It was only when we thought that we could dominate nature - around the time of Socrates - that humankind lost awareness of the context of it's
evolutionary adaptedness; of course, such concepts at that time didn't exist, unlike today.
edit on 8-3-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason