Of Two Minds
Only a small fraction of our thoughts are willfully formed and pursued. This intended mentation issues from willmind.
In contrast, unbidden thoughts regularly rise to attention, indicating that the mind is largely managed by an agency independent of volition. This is nattermind, which is often a nuisance, as it readily distracts with fantasies, doubt, and distress: a deceiver by its nagging worries and schemes.
Nattermind makes the average mind wander away at least a 1/3rd of the day. The frequent distraction often lowers mood.
“Although the room seems quiet, it is full of disruptions – ones that come from within. Noisy trains of thought are hard to ignore.” ~ Indian economist Sendhil Mullainathan & American behavioral scientist Eldar Shafir
Nattermind’s incessancy is troubling for 95% of the population. Most people are discomforted in sitting idle, letting their own minds prey upon them.
We lack a comfort in just being alone with our thoughts. We’re constantly looking to the external world for some sort of entertainment. ~ American psychologist Malia Mason
Nattermind and willmind point out the manifold nature of the mind as receiver, deceiver, and deliverer. The mind is the energetic engine of life: the interpreter of inputs and the fabricator of the world; the constructor of concepts, beliefs, hopes, and fears; and the tool of all crafts.
Nattermind is not just a nuisance. This cognitive busybody is essential in acting as the gatekeeper of what comes to mind: determining which subconscious stream should surface to awareness.
In the ocean of mentation, nattermind manages the flow of currents. Willmind is but a small craft of volition sailing on the boundless subconscious sea.
In sum: nattermind is, by and large, the mind. Willmind is but a narrow peephole into a labyrinth.
“These are people who are on the extreme end of human experience, who are part of a continuum and not a separate category.” ~ American psychiatrist William Carpenter
Schizophrenia is a severe illness characterized by mistaking nattermind’s fictions for actuality and acting out on them. Common symptoms include confusion, false beliefs, hearing voices (that others do not), reduced sociality and diminished emotional expression.
“Schizophrenia is a modern development. Early hominids did not have this disorder.” ~ American psychiatrist John Krystal
Schizophrenia typically comes on gradually, beginning in young adulthood, and becomes a chronic condition, albeit with acute episodes. Schizophrenics often grapple with other mental health problems.
(Prior to schizophrenia ever manifesting, children who later suffer the affliction often exhibit flatter emotional states – less joy or distress – and fewer coordinated movements. These early signs may show in children as young as 5 years.)
Notwithstanding vast environmental and socioeconomic differences among societies, ~1% of the world’s population suffer schizophrenia, all around the world.
The root of schizophrenia remains unclear to researchers, as the disorder seems to reflect both heritable inclinations and environmental factors. Despite extensive study, geneticists have been unable to zero in on causality, finding individual genes only modestly correlated to the disorder.
“Schizophrenia is so highly, radically polygenic that there may well be nothing to find, just a general, unspecifiable genetic background.” ~ American geneticist Eric Turkheimer
(Polygenic means that a plethora of genes are involved.)
Environmental stressors seem to play a decisive hand in schizophrenia developing. Risk factors range from urban living or being an immigrant to experiencing abuses that include poverty, emotional torment, and sexual predation.
“Rates of schizophrenia are influenced by social or cultural context.” ~ Swedish psychologist Elizabeth Cantor-Graae
“We need a stronger focus on changing the environment so we can prevent schizophrenia. We need to give children better childhoods and better chances to avoid extreme stress.” ~ Norwegian psychologist Roar Fosse
Though ever-present to those who suffer from schizophrenia, the malady has no physical cause, and no chemical cure – a stressed and frenzied nattermind has rudely seized control.