Indiviiduals constantly receive messages from their groups.

First and foremost, as stated above, the diagnosis of Schizophrenia is made when the patient reports that their thoughts are perceived as deriving from an external source.  As well as the emotional turmoil created by this strangest of experiences, I came to the conclusion that the other dramatic symptom associated with Schizophrenia, hearing voices, was also a response to the primary phenomenon of feedback reverberation in the thinking process.  I came to understand that the hearing of voices is the result of the intensity of the “incoming” thoughts somehow crudely enlisting the vocal language apparatus to produce this phenomenon.  I considered that these auditory hallucinations were secondary because they were so rudimentary in their content in relation to the elaborate prolixity of the pathological thoughts experienced in Schizophrenia.

A classic presentation is a young person presenting with the conviction that the metal braces on his or her teeth are picking up radio waves that are transmitting the thoughts.  That kind of symptom is pathognomonic of Schizophrenia, meaning that there is virtually no other illness that could produce it (with the exception of some exceedingly rare neurological conditions.)  Another virtually pathognomonic symptom of Schizophrenia is that these received thoughts jump around in a seemingly illogically way but that make utter sense to the patient and probably does possess psychological meaning.   In the psychoanalytic era, gurus abounded in the art of translating the psychotic productions of Schizophrenia, and their interpretations made sense to me.  It was called “primary process” thinking. 

It was in the context of these thoughts about Schizophrenia that first led me into thinking seriously that a unique kind of group selection had occurred in human evolution.  I began to consider that normal thinking involved communication with the belief systems in which we are all embedded.  These systems do not exist as logical trains of thought, but consist of firm emotional attachments to certain values in the strictly social realms in which we all live.  Psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his book, The Righteous Mind (2012) points out the differences between Republicans and Democrats involve differing emphasis that each place in six belief categories: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating (which are strong liberal beliefs) loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation (strong conservative beliefs.) 

It is these beliefs that comprise the “rules” which liberals and conservatives follow with passionate obedience.  These beliefs are motivated by emotion which is constantly being reinforced by others within your particular group.  In the thinking process, you are actually in constant communication with the various nested groups within which you exist (via watching cable news, for example.)  A creed from my own Alma mater comes to mind: “For God, Country, and Yale.”

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