Mathematics, Schizophrenia and the Shifting Sands of Madness

I was having a discussion with someone recently who was telling me about a friend of theirs who is a mathematician. This friend, she bragged, saw numbers in everything. Where we saw walls and colors and felt heat or heard trumpets, her friend saw numbers and formulas and complex calculations that described those experiential phenomena. She was so enamored of her friend’s ability to see mathematics in everything that I soon realized her adoration was almost messianic in nature.

Not so very long ago when humans conceived that their reality was populated by spirits and gods – those who heard voices or saw things nobody else did – were thought of as prophets or shaman or some other holy role. Today we call those people schizophrenic or bipolar and pump them full of enough chemicals to keep their visions at bay. Meanwhile people who see numbers that the rest of us do not, or geometry or other empirical modeling tools within nature itself, these folks are called geniuses. They are the new holy folk.

It seems to me that so far as madness goes, that the only difference between a mathematician and a schizophrenic is when and where they were born. In another time somebody who saw numbers and calculations everywhere would have been considered obsessive compulsive and quite likely considered to be hallucinating and dangerous to themselves and others.

In fact mathematicians would already call some people who do this differently than they do, numerologists, wackos. It is not seeing the significance in numbers or their relationships which gives mathematicians a messianic reputation in modern society, but in using the visions of numbers to validate the status quo worldview.

Here and now that worldview is materialism, and mathematics exist mostly just to model material reality. The glory of the mathematician is in their seemingly mystical connection to a deeper level of the reality modern people believe in. Mathematicians validate the perfectly normal and are hailed as visionaries for it.

When once spirits and gods were the reality belief of choice, those who heard voices or saw apparitions were holy for the same reason – a seemingly mystical connection to a deeper level of that model of reality.

The difference between madness and genius lies not in the individuals that possess them, but in what we believe reality to be. And those who validate the current consensus belief about reality through the highest form of strangeness allowed by those beliefs are considered holy or genius or whatever is preferable at the time.

If someday human beings come to believe that the universe is a complex song comprised of melodies and harmonies then they will probably also believe that anyone who constantly gets songs stuck in their head is some sort of holy genius. Perfect pitch might even make you a god.

Lesson: If you wanna be a messiah tomorrow you should start practicing madness today.



9 thoughts on “Mathematics, Schizophrenia and the Shifting Sands of Madness

  1. Think of my work as ideas to consider. As filters to try on. I am not interested in your arguments. Compulsive combativeness is the absolute worst part of the internet. If you don’t like what I write, do not read it.


  2. If a person is in touch with reality, then obviously you see it all. Things such as quantum mechanics then become obvious to you since you can see that reality has both an inside and an outside, and that the laws are different when comparing the two. Depending which side is governing an event, you will get a different outcome. Hence you end up with strange things such as particle/wave duality, or what appears on the inside to be instantaneous action at a distance, or the strange delayed quantum erasure effect, etc.

    Now, if you are in touch with reality, and thus you are in touch with both sides of it, then get ready to fasten your seat belts. The inside is always confined to the present time or real-time, but the outside is not. Get ready to be messed with and made to look like a complete nutcase in front of the world.


  3. People have all different ways of looking at the universe. Nobody thinks or acts exactly alike. Having one standard of “sanity” or “normality” could be distorting the truth. Powerful people in institutions like the state have tended to view people as being “crazy” because they didn’t agree with these self-serving bureaucrats definitions or views of “reality”(or, to be more accurate, what these very same self-serving bureaucrats wanted them to believe and not what was really true). Psychiatry doesn’t really help anyone, and it is more a tool used by fascists to force people to conform to their fascist ways. Psychiatry damages people with psychiatric drugs and other “treatments” to make them more easily controlled.


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